BOURNE, Mass. -- Xaverian certainly felt that justice was done when the dust settled at Gallo Ice Arena on Saturday afternoon as the 13th-seeded Hawks (9-7-5) scored a first-round MIAA state tournament win over fourth-seeded Duxbury (14-4-5).
Twice during the contest it appeared that Xaverian had scored a goal, only to have it disallowed. The Hawks thought they had scored an insurance marker at the end of the second period, only to have the officials rule that time had expired nanoseconds before the puck crossed the goal line. In overtime, Antonio Marini’s poke at his own rebound evaded Duxbury’s Chris Johnson and looked to be covered up in the net by a defenseman’s hand, and taken out.
Again the call didn’t go their way, and the game remained knotted at 1-1 and headed to a shootout after 57 minutes of hockey.
Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said that his team didn’t get down when the bounces did not go their way and that enduring that adversity paid off in the end. He implored the Hawks to remain focused, and work.
“We felt we had a couple of goals, but the referee explained to me that we didn’t, so we just kept going,” the coach said.
The shootout, like the game, was low-scoring and close. Of the nine skaters to take aim, only Eddie Pratt, of Xaverian, was able to sneak one by. Pratt, the first shooter for his team, temporarily lost the handle on his way to the net, but regained the handle and sniped one by Johnson to the stick side to put his team ahead.
Hawks goalie Matt Michals did the rest. After denying 27 of the 28 shots that Duxbury fired at him during the game, Michals stopped all five Duxbury penalty shooters. Each Dragon made bids to the stick side, low, but Michals flashed the right leg pad and kept all of them from getting past to move his team into the Division I south quarterfinals, where they will meet fifth-seeded Marshfield on Monday night at 7:30 in Bourne.
“Matty’s a junior, a two-year starter, he’s so focused,” Spinale said of his netminder. “He’s been great for us all year, he’s just a true competitor. They could have sent all 20 guys, but he was so dialed in. He wanted this win for these guys.
“His angles were good, he was attacking the puck and playing big.”
The lone mistake that Michals made in the game came in the third period. Xaverian scored early, and clung to that lead most of the way, but Duxbury’s Mike Doyle was able to collect the equalizer at 4:51 of the third as he camped on the far post and tipped home a shot from the right side by Nick Marrocco.
Duxbury, which owned the second period and parts of the third, was lifted by the Doyle score and thought that they were on their way at that point.
“It gave us a second life, we tried to keep things simple,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said. “We knew that the goalie was outstanding, so we thought our best chance was a rebound goal, or deflection, something like that to try to win it. They blocked a lot of shots, they kept us on the outside. I thought they did a nice job with their game plan.”
Xaverian’s lone goal during regulation proved that the difference between scoring and not scoring is often in the details, and it was a little thing that allowed the Hawks to grab the lead. Senior forward John Greeley came up with a failed clearing attempt by the Dragons on the left wing, collected it and spun to the net through the faceoff circle.
As Greeley’s skates split the faceoff dot, he gave a little cross-over deke, more a shrug than a move, but it was just enough to get Johnson to lean to his right a bit.
That move opened up the far post for Greeley, and he used it. The winger rifled one to the top, far corner, beating Johnson to the glove side at 6:41 of the first.
Johnson, and the entire Duxbury team, gave an effort that worthy of advancing into the quarters according to their coach. But, Blake said, at tournament time, it might come down to penalty shots, and that’s just the way that it goes.
“It is [a tough way to lose], but we know the rules and that’s what you sign up for,” Blake said. “I thought our guys left everything on the ice…I think they deserved a better fate, but the puck didn’t bounce our way.”
Going forward, things don’t get any easier for Xaverian. Next up for them is Atlantic Coast League champion Marshfield (17-6-0). The teams met way back in December, in a game where defense was hard to find. Xaverian won that night, 9-7. The Hawks hope for a similar outcome, but expect a much tighter hockey game this time around.
“I think Marshfield’s going to be a real good test. Both teams are playing well. I think it’s going to be a battle,” Spinale said.