Billerica takes OT thrillver over Chelmsford

BILLERICA, Mass, -- It seemed fitting that Billerica’s first postseason game would end the same way a number of their regular season games did — in a tie.

Mired in a battle with bitter rival Chelmsford in Wednesday’s Division 1 North first-round playoff game, the Indians had to overcome two separate two-goal deficits to break even with the Lions. There would be no tie this time for Billerica, however, as junior forward Arthur Raposa gave the Indians their first lead of the game, taking a 5-4 overtime win at a raucous Chelmsford Forum.

“We knew mistakes were going to be the difference in the game,” Indians head coach Mike Mastrullo said. “In the first period, right off the bat, we made some that were really simple, but poorly executed plays. And then we played another good period in the second, for 13 minutes, again.”

The No. 3 seed Indians (11-2-8) were quickly knocked off their stride as Chelmsford’s Slade Forni lifted the 14th-seeded Lions to an instant 1-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Chelmsford (9-10-2) jumped out to a two-goal with Cam Phillips’ tally in the final minute of the first.

Billerica drew even with two goals in the second period, only to see their hard work evaporate again in the final minute when the Lions struck twice more. The Indians went back to the drawing board again in the second intermission down two.

“We’ve been in that position before,” Billerica senior forward Ross Murphy said. “It’s not like we never had to come back. It was all on us. Coach even said, there was nothing they could do for us … We found whatever it was inside of us and we got it done. It was a great game and a great comeback.”

Despite outshooting the Lions by a 12-4 margin, the Indians struggled to sneak anything past Lions netminder Brad Alber (28 saves). However, Murphy lifted Billerica’s fading hopes with his second goal of the game, coming with 3:47 remaining in the third. The winger roofed a wrist shot inside the far-side post from an impossible angle along the left wing boards.

“We were trying to get everything to the net and I threw it at the net,” Murphy said. “I was falling down and I saw it go in the net. It was the greatest feeling in the world.”

For the second time in the game, the Indians erased a two-goal deficit with Jack Jenkins’ second goal of the game, coming with 1:08 to play. Jenkins banged home the rebound off of John Ripa’s shot to the elation of the “hometown” crowd.

Ripa also figured prominently in the game-winner, notching his second assist of the game while feeding Raposa.

“My linemate [Brandon] Kuzmich threw it back to [John] Ripa, who took the shot,” Raposa said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.

With that, half of the capacity crowd went home happy.

“It was a great game for fans, a horrible game for coaches,” Mastrullo said. “It was really exciting. It’s going to be hard to top that.”

Billerica faces Arlington Catholic in a quarterfinal at Chelmsford Forum on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.