FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- The play seemed to happen in slow motion. Braintree senior forward Tom Mahoney was in one-on-one with Framingham goalie Al Lynch. He deked to his forehand and pulled the puck through the crease onto his backhand. Mahoney seemed to have the goal at his mercy, but out of nowhere Lynch flashed his glove across and caused the Flyers fans to jump out of their seats.
Despite Lynch’s best efforts, he could not prevent another goal.
Two minutes after the great save, Wamps defenseman James Flaherty slid down from the point into the slot and effectively ended the game with still three minutes on the clock. Flaherty had a goal and an assist to lead Braintree back into a tie for the Bay State Conference Carey Division lead, after a 2-0 win at Loring Arena.
“We thought we were a better team than we showed last time out; I thought we came out flat at home” Braintree head coach Dave Fasano said. “I was proud of the way our guys responded tonight. It was a complete team effort. [It’s a] quality win for our program at this time of the year.”
Framingham head coach Paul Spear was in awe of the save that Lynch (31 saves) made and his overall play to keep the team in the game.
“Both sides were cheering for him,” Spear added. “I don’t think that I’ve seen that in 14 years of coaching that the entire rink exploded for the play of one kid. That was pretty cool.”
Fasano was also effusive in his praise of Lynch, saying, “I consider him one of the top two or three goalies in the league maybe even on of the top two or three around. He made three or four saves that were game changers.”
The Wamps (12-3-1, 10-2-0) controlled the game from start to finish and outshot Framingham 33-17. It was similar to the way the first game was played although the outcome was very different from the Flyers 3-1 win at Zapustas Arena almost a month ago.
“We’re trying to win on goaltending and defense and taking our chances,” Spear said. “We just didn’t take our chances tonight. They did the same thing last time we played them, but we kept most of the shots to the outside and let Al [Lynch] see them.”
He added, “You play defensive and you tell your guys to take their chances and score.”
Braintree opened the scoring with 3:08 left in the second period. Flaherty fired a quick outlet to captain David Fasano Jr., who finished the breakaway for a short-handed goal that proved to be the game-winner. Even though the Wamps created most of the chances as long as it stayed a one-goal game, Fasano knew that the result was not assured.
He said, “It was huge. I thought we carried the play. I liked the way we cycled the puck well tonight. I thought our defensemen stepped up when they needed to.”
Framingham (10-6-0, 10-2-0) will take on Norwood in another tough league matchup on Monday afternoon as it tries to rebound from the end of its six-game win streak. Braintree will put its eight-game win streak (its last loss was to the Flyers) on the line Wednesday at Needham.
FRAMINGHAM COACH HONORED FOR 50 YEARS OF SERVICE
Framingham won a state title in 1961 and the next year Loring Arena was built. That was the same year that Robert “Bobby” Brown began his relationship with Framingham Youth Hockey. On Saturday night, at the rink he has called home for the past 50 years, Brown was honored by the Framingham hockey community before the high school’s game with Braintree.
Brown had been the JV coach at Framingham High for the past 10 years but was forced away from the bench two weeks into the season. He has been battling prostate cancer for the past year and, according to Flyers head coach Paul Spear, he did not have the energy to continue in what had already been announced as his last year.
“I already had the idea kicking around to do something special for him in his last year,” said Spear prior to the ceremony. “Figured it’s the least we could do.”
Members of the local youth teams, the Framingham JV, the varsity, the Framingham High girls’ team, and Braintree High were all hand to celebrate the legacy of Brown and his influence on the game. The stands at Loring Arena were packed with adoring fans that all had personal stories of how Brown had impacted them over the years.
Brown was clearly emotional about the outpouring of support and several times reached up to tap his heart and let the packed stands know that he was moved by the display.
At times the president of Framingham Youth Hockey, a board member, and a coach at various levels, Brown was brought into the high school program 10 years ago. When Spear took over the program in 2000, he asked Brown to join him but had to wait a few more years before the invitation was accepted. In 2003, Brown filled the opening at junior varsity.
Spear explained what Brown has meant to the Framingham hockey community. “He’s the embodiment of tradition. He’s what Framingham hockey is all about. It makes the players feel connected to something bigger than themselves and that’s what tradition in a hockey program is all about.”
He added, “He is the grandfather of Framingham Youth Hockey.”
Brown is also unbeaten as the head coach of the Flyers. He was given the chance to be the official head coach at a game near the end of last season against Medford. Framingham won the game for Brown and ensured that he would always have a 100 percent record in the top job.
His positive attitude, his respect for everyone he comes across, and the kindness that he displays to the players has endeared him to the Framingham hockey community. Of course, taking the team bus to McDonald’s after a game did not hurt either.
On Saturday night, the entire hockey community from the high school down to the youth level came together to celebrate the impact of the heart and soul of the sport in Framingham.