- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURNE, Mass. – If the first two periods of Friday’s Division 1 South sectional first-round game between No. 6 seed Milton and No. 1 Marshfield were being judged as a boxing match, the two sides would have been awarded a period each in their favor. Marshfield owned the first, while the Wildcats bounced back with a thorough effort in the second.
The third period? Well, it was just wild.
After Milton scored three straight goals in the second to take a 3-2 lead to the second intermission, the teams traded salvos in the third before Marshfield responded with a string of three straight goals of its own to crack open an up-and-down 7-6 win at Gallo Ice Arena.
“It was balanced, we had a lot of guys that scored,” Rams head coach Dan Connolly said. “You want to see that in the tournament.”
Marshfield (10-9-4) was the aggressor in the first period, outshooting the Wildcats 8-2. Andrew Fithian put the Rams on the board at 3:49 with a goal from below the faceoff dots. Junior winger Chris Bertone would puck up his second assist of the period, setting up Matt Doyle’s wrist shot from the high slot.
The Rams’ extra jolt of energy to start the game might have been a result of an extended period of rest. Eight days had elapsed since they last played in the consolation game of the Cape Cod Hockey Showdown.
“They played great,” Connolly said of his team’s first-period effort. “Going through five straight days of practice with each other was starting to wear on them.”
The Wildcats’ chipped away at the Rams’ possession margin in the second period, with the aide of a 5-on-3 power play. Although Milton was unable to capitalize, Shane Kelley made it a one-goal game at the 4-minute mark of the second with an assist from Dylan McDougall. Kelley potted his second of the period less than four minutes later, stuffing home a rebound from the top of the crease at 7:52.
Milton (13-7-3) completed the climb back at 10:35, scoring its third unanswered goal of the period. Tommy Noonan shoveled a pass back to the point from along the half-wing boards to Colin Rooney for a half-slap that beat Grayson Owens stick side through a screen.
The Wildcats thought they’d added to their lead before the period was out with a puck in the net at the buzzer, but it was washed out by the official.
Marshfield tied the score in the third with a bit of puck luck on their side as a deflection off Jacob Maher’s skate blade tied the score, 3-3, at 2:52. Just 28 seconds later, Milton regained the lead with a Lloyd Hill wrist shot.
From there, the Rams kicked the throttle into another gear with a string of three goals roughly in the next six minutes. Nevan Connors tallied his team-leading 19th of the season at 3:47 before junior Isaiah Jackson netted his first of two straight goals, guiding a wrister through a screen at 6:13 for a 5-4 lead. Jackson then buried his second at 9:48 with a feed from Fithian (1 G, 2 A) from behind the net.
Milton countered with a power-play goal at 11:43 to slice the Rams’ lead down to a goal.
There would be no other comeback though as Bertone (1 G, 2 A) scored an empty-netter with 1:16 remaining. Although there were still some tense moments in a period where defense wasn’t a factor.
“Just try to hold on and do the simple things … make the smart play, get it deep, make them go 200 feet,” Connolly said of nursing the late lead. “They kept knocking pucks down and coming at us.”
Marshfield advances to face No. 3 seed Barnstable in a quarterfinal Sunday (8:15 p.m.) at Gallo.