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Thursday, February 28, 2013
NEPSAC: Thayer 4, St. Sebastian's 3 (OT)

By Scott Barboza



CANTON, Mass. -- Jonathan Sheedy swooped around the goal, arms raised in the air. A look of incredulousness was written on the senior captain’s face as he looked for his nearest teammate to hug.

With the figures “5:05” emblazoned on the scoreboard, Sheedy stopped time, delivering a 4-3 overtime win for Thayer Academy Wednesday at the Canton SpotsPlex.

Reflecting on his game-winner against St. Sebastian’s in the NEPSAC Martin/Earl Tournament quarterfinal tilt between ISL rivals, all Sheedy could think of is the last couple seasons and how far the Tigers have come.

“We’ve had two losing seasons in the last three years,” Sheedy said. “The fact that we were in the tournament this year, I was wicked happy for that. Now, we get to go to Salem, play in the semifinals Saturday. It’s just amazing.”

Thayer held a 3-0 lead in the second, despite the Arrows carrying play in the period. But Seb’s kept at it and finally solved Tigers netminder Bob McGovern (29 saves), scoring three unanswered goals, including two goals from senior forward James McLaughlin, to tie it in the third.

It was a familiar script.

“It was almost a mirror image of the other day, it was the same kind of game that we played on Saturday,” Tigers head coach Tony Amonte said of his team’s 3-1 win over the Arrows in last weekend’s Valicenti Cup game. “They won the second period, the only difference today was that they won the third.”

The Tigers jumped to a 2-0 lead at 14:19 of the second with freshman Ty Amonte tallying his second of the game on the set-up from Lincoln Griffin off a 2-on-1 break. Thayer struck again exactly one minute later on defenseman Jack Judge’s blast from the point.

However, the Arrows countered with an important goal just 17 seconds later with Tommy Kelley ripping off a one-timer on Corey Ronan’s feed.

“We needed to get one before the end of the period,” St. Seb’s head coach Sean McCann said. “We were fortunate to have a bang-bang play near the crease. It was a nice play by our guys and that helped us carry momentum into the third period.”

After being held scoreless on five previous power-play opportunities, the Arrows found the back of the net for the first time with the man-advantage to start the third. McLaughlin scored his first of two goals at 6:10 of the third. He then scored the equalizer with 7:31 remaining in regulation.

KEEP IT SIMPLE
After being outplayed for the bulk of two periods, Thayer brought its skating legs to the overtime session. Spurred on a by a key save by McGovern in the opening minute of overtime, the Tigers began getting pucks to the Arrows’ net with greater consistency.

It was all part of Amonte’s message to his team at the break: don’t make it too fancy.

“How many pretty goals do you see in an overtime?” the 16-season NHL veteran and Thayer alum said. “A la today, there’s no pretty goals in overtime at any level. So I told them to relax, go out there, play their game and just get pucks to the net.”

As the Tigers advance to play Avon Old Farms in Saturday’s tournament semifinal at the The Icecenter in Salem, N.H. (5:30 p.m.), they feel as though they’re playing with house money.

“This is all gravy,” Amonte said. “For us, we didn’t even expect to make the tournament, so we’ll give it our best and see what happens.”

AN IMPOSING FIGURE
In Thayer’s net, McGovern presents a conundrum for opposing players. That is, where exactly can you shoot?

The 6-foot, 3-inch, butterfly-style netminder affords snipers little space to shoot. And, with his sound positional play in the crease, seldom will you find the Tigers’ backstop out of place.

McGovern’s effort in the last two games against St. Seb’s even drew the praise of the opposing coach.

“He’s played really well this year,” McCann said. “We played them on Saturday and he was outstanding. He was so good today, so going down three-to-nothing, we were a little concerned about what we were going to be able to do.”