BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. –- The last time Franklin won a state hockey championship was in 1983 and Chris Spillane was one of the team’s players.
Now, Spillane will have an opportunity to win a state title as a coach.
That scenario was a result of Franklin’s 5-2 victory Sunday over Plymouth South in the Division 2 South finals before a standing room only crowd of 2,200 at Gallo Arena.
“I guess you could say everything’s come full circle,” said Spillane, whose team was led by James Marchand’s two goals. “This is the fifth time [going to the South finals] since I’ve been coaching.
“We’ve had some real quality hockey teams. This team just has that intangible. They bond together. They formed friendships at the beginning of the season and it’s carried right through [to the end].”
Franklin (17-4-2) will get a crack at that state championship on March 20 when it faces Tewksbury at TD BankNorth Garden.
Besides Marchand’s hat trick, Spillane felt a major reason why his team prevailed was that it skated three lines while Plymouth South (15-7-1) only skated two.
“All three lines scored tonight,” Spillane said. “We don’t rely on one line. They skated two. We went into this game saying if they can skate two lines for three periods against our three, they deserve to win.
“We kept rolling three lines and tried to see if they could keep up with the pace we set. It was a factor in the third period. Our speed was there. They were tired. They weren’t winning the 50-50 battles like they were earlier in the game. That just comes down to our players focusing on what they need to do, working hard and winning the battles in our zone.”
Marchand scored his initial goal at 4:17 of the first when he unloaded a slap shot from the top of the left circle but Plymouth South (15-7-1) tied it 15 seconds into the middle period when John Leaman buried the rebound of an Andrew Tympanick shot.
Adam Hall then put Franklin ahead for good, at 1:36, with a snap shot from the left circle that beat Matt Peltier (13 saves) to the far right post.
“We’ve been preaching all year long after someone scores a goal the next biggest shift is the following one,” said Spillane “Either you get the momentum and keep it or you give it back. We did a good job of getting it back in our favor and continuing to do the simple things we did all game.”
Matt DiRosario gave Franklin a 3-1 lead at 6:40 of the second on a wrist shot from the left circle that eluded Bill Spillane (17 saves). But Plymouth South countered on a power play at 13:35 when Joey Colbert flipped in the rebound of a Gavin Yates shot.
Marchand gave Franklin some breathing room at 7:44 of the third when he converted a pass from Hall.
“I was fortunate to get it and it set the tone for the rest of the period,” said Marchand, who scored into an empty net with 14 seconds remaining. “The big thing about this team is we gave good chemistry. We all get along with each other. We all know how to play the game.”
Marchand almost was speechless when trying to discuss his emotions after Franklin’s most important win of the season.
“It’s the best feeling in the world … it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”