Matt Kinchla will be replaying the shot in his mind for a while and each time he’s going to ask himself the same question, “how did he make that save?”
The villain in the Falmouth High forward’s recollections will be Marshfield High goaltender Kyle Moran, whose glove stop midway through the second period of Saturday night’s game at the Hobomock Arena drew oohs and aahs from the crowd, and probably a fair share of cuss words on the Clippers’ bench.
Thanks to that stop, and several other worthy of his personal highlight reel, Moran helped the ninth-ranked Rams escape with a 1-1 draw against 20th-ranked Falmouth in a showdown for first place in the Atlantic Coast League.
Marshfield is now 5-1-1 overall, and 3-0-1 in the ACL. Falmouth has the same league record and is 6-1-2 for the campaign.
“It was a great save. He really bailed us out today, their goalie played great too, but Kyle was the story,” Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said.
Falmouth bench boss Buddy Ferreira said that the stop was the difference in the game.
“Their goalie made a huge, huge big-time save that otherwise we walk out of the building with a 2-1 win."
Moran’s robbery on Kinchla came with 8:14 to play in the second period, with the Clippers attacking on a power play and looking to double its slim lead. Defenseman Joe Meloni spied the forward sneaking down the right wing side all alone and rifled a backdoor pass that Kinchla swiped at for the near post. Moran (21 saves) lunged back to his left and snared the puck, which was behind him, out of the air to keep the game a 1-0 contest.
Moran made another great stop four minutes later, this time robbing Ben Taylor. The freshman forward attempted to finish off a 2-on-1 breakaway with Durham Ghelfi, but Moran got his left leg pad down in time to kick aside the snipe. He also stoned Storm Fotiu with 3:30 to play, again with the leg pads.
Falmouth keeper Cody Garcia (18 saves) also had a fantastic day in the other net for the Clippers. The sophomore stymied several quality chances by the Rams, including a big one on top scorer Mikey Carbone, who had a point in every game the Rams had played prior to this one, with 1:29 to play in the first period. Carbone broke alone toward the Falmouth net and attempted a cross-over move, but Garcia stopped the bid and then covered up as he was run over by Carbone. Garcia also had a sweet glove save on Chris Perry with 7:22 to play in the game, preserving the tie.
Each goaltender was also the recipient of an assist from his best friend, the pipe. Taylor popped one off the post with 54 seconds to play in the second period. Marshfield defenseman Joe Kiley rung the pipe with just over 7 minutes left in the third.
The only people in the building that were as busy as the keepers were the referees. From the outset it was apparent that the two squads were going to play with playoff-caliber ferocity, and the refs gave their whistles a workout because of it.
“It was a war, it was like watching the Vancouver-Bruins game today, it was the same type of thing,” Connolly said. “I don’t think there was much 5-on-5 in the second period, which took us out of our flow, and it probably took Buddy [Ferreira] and his team out there flow, too. We were getting lines together, and jumbling guys around.”
It was while killing one of four Falmouth power plays in the game that the Rams netted their lone goal of the night.
Connor McLean chased a dump-in behind the Clippers’ net, took on two Falmouth players and won the puck out of a scrum where he was able to center it to Perry in the slot for a quick snap shot that beat Garcia upstairs to knot things up at 1-1 with just 3 seconds left in the second stanza.
“Connor McLean won a battle, then won another battle and put it out front and then Chris Perry was right there to bang it in. It was opportunistic, but it was all the result of hard work of Perry and those boys,” Connolly said.
Perry’s goal was the lone mark against a Falmouth defense that owned the rest of the night. Marshfield clearly wanted to play an up-tempo style, but the Clippers never let them enjoy space in the open ice.
“Defensively we just bottled them up,” Ferreira said. “They tried to spring that forward out of the defensive end all night and our forwards were just right on them. They were physical with them, boy they laid some hits out there…big time hits.”
Falmouth upped the ante on the physical side of the game from the opening drop of the puck and it paid quick dividends. With a hit in the neutral zone Travis Howe jarred the puck away from Marshfield and led a quick 2-on-1 break from the red line. He fed it ahead for Cyrus Wickersham, who rifled a quick wrist shot past Moran for a 1-0 lead just 3:12 into the action.
Falmouth also nearly pulled off a last second miracle of its own at the end of the game. With less than a second to play Nicky Lineaweaver tipped a pass out of the corner by Justin Taylor upstairs on Moran. The keeper’s great night ended with one last Falmouth frustration as he was able to block the puck with his shoulder and cover it up with 0.2 seconds remaining on the game clock.
“They owned us in the first period, we were lucky to be down just 1-0,” Connolly said.
Ferreira admitted that his team’s biggest shortcoming is its lack of a big-time scorer, but the Clippers try to make up for that with hard work, which they certainly did against Marshfield. The coach left town quite satisfied with what he got from the maroon and white.
“Outside of 3 seconds, we walk out with a win. I’m not upset. That was a good performance, 3 lines, 4 defensemen and solid goaltending against a team that could be a Super-8 team,” Ferreira said. “We don’t have a lot of snipers. Could we win or come out with a tie against a team where we outplayed somebody but just couldn’t bury it? Tonight we showed that we could, and that’s a good sign.”
Connolly and his Rams were just happy to get out of the game without losing a share of first place in the league standings.
“They’re very good, so getting a point out of this was good. We were hoping to get two [points] in our home building, but we were lucky to get one, we were,” Connolly admitted. “So we take that out of the game, that we did earn a point. We did [dodge a bullet]. They out-played us, they definitely deserved the two (points) tonight, I thought. Our kids played hard, they got better as the game went on, but they dominated the first for sure.”