PROVIDENCE, R.I. – BC High coach John Flaherty was content to exit Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium with a point on Saturday afternoon and not wonder about what might have been.
As a means of explanation: The No. 2 Eagles and perennial Rhode Island power Hendricken played to a 2-2 tie which was the official result. But because Massachusetts schools don’t play overtime, Flaherty and Hawks coach Jim Creamer decided in advance that, if the game was tied after regulation, the teams would play a five-minute, sudden-death overtime in hopes that one team would emerge “victorious.”
Patrick Kramer’s second goal, at 3:43 of OT, enabled the Eagles (6-0-2) to prevail, 3-2.
“We’ll take the point,” Flaherty said. “Obviously, we wanted a better fate. But down 2-0 going into the third period against a very good team, to get two goals and a point especially when we killed as many penalties as we had to kill – especially a 5-on-3 – it was an uphill climb against a very good hockey team."
Since Massachusetts schools must win 50 percent of their games in order to qualify for their respective state tournaments, the Eagles now have 14 of the 20 points required to extend their season.
A case could be made that the Eagles preserved their chances of earning a point when they killed off a 5-on-3 penalty for 1:45 in the third period with the game tied 2-2. During that span, BC High limited the Hawks (8-0-2) to one shot on goal.
“The fact that we got out of there without giving up one was huge,” Flaherty said. “We had all the momentum going for us and then a couple of calls (holding on Alex Flynn and hitting from behind on Pat Riley) put us down 5-on-3. To be able to kill that and only give up one shot was a great job by the guys on the ice that we used to kill the penalty.
“We’ve done a pretty good job on the PK all year. But the two goals we have up today were power-play goals (each came off the stick of Jamie Armstrong). It just seemed like we were killing a lot of penalties today. We gave up two power-play goals but killed probably another four or five.”
The Eagles were 2-for-4 on the PK.
Hendricken scored its initial power-play goal at 13:25 of the first period when Armstrong, the son of former Providence Bruins coach and current St. Louis Blues scout Bill Armstrong, gunned home a slap shot from the left circle.
Then, at 6:10 of the second, Armstrong beat Brandon Payzant (16 saves) on a wrist shot from the slot.
The Eagles commenced their rally early in the third period when Ryan Shea beat Matt Kenneally (27 saves) with a slap shot from outside the top of the right circle at 2:15.
Kramer went to work shortly thereafter when he whipped home a shot from the right circle after a set-up by Kayser Raei at 3:35. He then ended the game in OT when he blasted home a slap shot from the high slot.
“[Kramer] was a major difference out there,” Flaherty said. “He scored a nice goal to get us even. And Ryan Shea had a real nice goal to get some momentum going our way.
“There isn’t an easy game on our schedule and we don’t schedule easy teams. We came down here in a tough environment and played a very good team. They worked hard in slowing us down. They didn’t give us lanes and didn’t allow us to get into a flow in the game.
He continued, “They scored two very nice power-play goals and we had to play catch-up. Again, down 2-0 after two periods with only 15 minutes of hockey to play, we’ll take a point.”
Conversely, Creamer realized his Hawks let one of New England’s top teams off the proverbial hook.
“We were in a good spot coming into the third,” he said. “But they’re a really good team – probably the best team we’re going to play all season. We made some poor choices coming into the third period.
“We let them off the hook a little bit and they stepped it up a little bit so credit to them. But it’s frustrating.”
That being said, Creamer also admitted it wasn’t all doom and gloom on a rainy afternoon.
“It was a positive day for us in general,” he said. “We certainly would have liked to have had the third period back. But we’ll learn from that and get better. Our compete level was outstanding. That’s the real thing I can take away is our compete level was top-notch. We certainly didn’t shy away."
One Hawk who definitely didn’t “shy away” was Kenneally who kept his team in contention especially during the second and third periods when BC High outshot Hendricken by a combined margin of 22-10.
“We got great goaltending today,” Creamer said. “He did a great job of making the first save and eliminating rebounds. That’s something he’s really worked on. It was really noticeable today. I thought he was outstanding.”