BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. - Canton (15-4-4) had six different goal scorers in a dominating 7-1 victory over top seed Plymouth South (17-4-2) in the second Division 2 South semifinal on Thursday night at Gallo Arena in Bourne. Brian Hagan led the way with a pair of goals for the Bulldogs.
Canton stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on a 10-4 advantage in shots. Sophomore Bobby Mullaney got the scoring started 1:57 into the game. He took the puck right at Plymouth South goalie Dylan O’Connell before sliding his shot under the pad. With 6:22 remaining in the period, Hagan would get a very fortunate goal as his shot slipped out of O’Connell’s glove and trickled into the net.
“Bobby Mullaney set the tone for the game -- bringing that puck to the net and getting his shot off on his backhand that set the tone for the game,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We said that we need to attack the net and get the puck off the outside, off the perimeter, and get it towards the net and Bobby did that to a ‘T’.”
He added, “We knew this kid’s a good goalie so we tried to get shots from all different angles and get him moving. We buried our chances, which at the beginning of the season wasn’t happening.
Brendan Logan scored to make it 3-0 early in the second period, but the Panthers looked much stronger and started to create chances of their own.
With six minutes left in the second, Plymouth South had 57 seconds of two-man advantage and the chance to get back into the game, but Justin Slocum made several key saves and Hagan dropped back from his forward position to defenseman to help clear off the power play opportunity.
Three minutes later, Hagan made it 4-0 on assists from freshmen Jerry Harding and Jim Jenkins. Just 30 seconds later and leading scorer Matt Lazaro knocked in a rebound of a John Femia shot and Canton was cruising up 5-0 heading to the third.
“We thought we would get a quick one there and the kids just ran out of gas a little bit,” said Plymouth South coach Mike McCosh. “That hurt. We missed a couple of open nets and… [shrugs].”
Femia explained that the Bulldogs have put an emphasis on the five on three situation after a pair of late goals cost Canton points against Oliver Ames and Beverly early in the season.
He said, “We’ve been working on five on three because early in the year we struggled with them. OA, Beverly, games that we should’ve won but five on threes really killed us. We had two forwards out there -- Brian Hagan moved back to ‘D’ but he’s pretty good at defense.”
The Panthers got on the board early in the third period on a power play goal by Kevin Cowden. Plymouth South had a strong few minutes at the beginning of the third and McCosh was proud to see his team keep fighting even thought it was down by five goals.
“This team never gives up,” he asserted. “There’s a difference between getting beat and losing. This team has never lost a game this year -- they got beat four times. It was a great team to coach.”
With five minutes to play, the Panthers had another power play opportunity and McCosh went for broke by pulling O’Connell to get a sixth attacker on the ice. But, the move back fired when Femia collected the puck in front of his own net and fired it off the boards and out of the zone. The puck went the length of the ice and into the empty net. Goaltender Justin Slocum was credited with the assist.
“It was like laying in front and I knew they had no goalie,” said Femia. “I just kind of whipped around and sent it had no idea but when it hit the blue line I thought it might have a chance. That was probably the game right there.”
Harding would add the seventh Canton goal with three minutes to play.
The Bulldogs will return to the sectional final for the first time since their state championship season of 2010. Canton will face Medfield on Sunday afternoon at Gallo and Shuman is looking forward to the challenge.
He said, “They’re a great team. I said right from the get-go that they’d be there in the end and we just hope to be there with them. They have a ton of skill and we need to be ready. It’s going to be a good game.”