MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- At the start, it appeared Lincoln-Sudbury was poised to make it a long evening for Merrimack Valley/Dual County rival Tewksbury.
The Warriors scored twice in the opening minute and 12 seconds, making it look easy both times.
But someone forgot to remind L-S there was still 43:48 left to be played. During that time, the Warriors leveled out offensively and the Redmen turned up their play – enough so, to earn a 3-3 tie Wednesday night at New England Sports Center.
"Obviously we had a great start," L-S head coach Tom Pare said. "It goes to show you that if you don't play an entire 45 minutes it's not going to happen. Credit Tewksbury because they out-worked most of the second period and most of the third period. It's not a bad tie because Tewksbury is a good program that is well-coached. It's a team that we respect and we always seem to be battling them for the league title.
“We knew they were gunning for us because we beat them up at their place.”
The Redmen (10-2-2, 5-2-1), who lost to L-S, 3-1, on Jan. 15, returned to their form late in the opening period and maintained the rest of the way.
But it didn't start out that way. Eric Holden, off the opening face off, raced into Tewksbury's zone all alone and beat goaltender Kyle Paquette just 15 seconds in.
Perhaps a bit in shock over the early tally, the Redmen seemed a bit off-kilter. Less than a minute later, L-S stormed up ice on a odd-man rush. Myles Cohen drew the defense over to him and promptly delivered a cross-ice pass to Drew Baker. The sophomore forward, standing alone in front of Paquette, sent a shot just under the crossbar to give the Warriors a 2-0 advantage.
From there, however, Tewksbury started to work its patented in-your-face defensive style as they held the Warriors to just one more shot for the remainder of the period. At 6:44, after a few earlier attempts by the Redmen had just missed their mark, junior forward Colin Quinn, standing inside the blue line, rang a shot off the post and into the net, putting Tewksbury on the board.
"The first eight minutes for us were completely uncharacteristic," said Redmen head coach Derek Doherty. "In a big game like this it didn't seem like we were prepared. We were but we just didn't execute properly in those opening eight minutes. Early on we told our guys that they needed to play better defensively. Everyone is going forward and it left our goalie wide open. Kyle has done a great job for us in net all year long and plays very focused. But we cannot leave him out on an island by himself the way we did early on."
Following Quinn's marker, it appeared as though the Redmen had weathered the early onslaught and were now back to playing the style they are known for. Only 1:38 into the middle period, Tewksbury knotted things at 2-2. Jack Cash, a senior, broke free down along the right side and beat Derek Ashe (20 saves) with a hard wrist shot. But the Warriors (9-1-4, 7-1-1), whose offense was left vacant for nearly 14 minutes, found itself again. At 3:37 of the frame, Matt Jacobs gave L-S the lead back after grabbing a fat rebound in front and pushing it past Paquette (12 saves).
From that point moving forward, the Warriors were doing everything possible to shore up their defensive play and keep the Redmen from getting any quality looks at Ashe. For a while the strategy was working. Tewksbury had to scratch and claw to gain space inside the offensive zone. With less than five minutes to go in the period, the Warriors got careless with the puck inside their own zone. Tewksbury intercepted the puck which set up Quinn's second goal of the night, as he knocked home a rebound off of Ashe's chest following an initial shot by Ryan Petti.
"It would've been better had we won the game," said Quinn of his two goals and now has seven for the season. "I think we had a lot of chances on their goalie but just couldn't get the bounces. We hit a lot of posts and crossbars. We normally don't start well as a team and have to fight coming from behind. When we got behind tonight it was nothing really different for us. We just had to fight back like we normally do."
Tewksbury controlled much of the third period, by keeping the action inside the L-S end. The Warriors offense was struggling, helt do just one shot over the first 13 minutes in the frame. But they managed to initiate late flurry, putting three consecutive shots on Paquette within a span of 5 seconds. However, the junior netminder, who entered having posted three consecutive shutouts, was able to fend off the sudden offensive explosion and secure the tie.
"Our kids played well but we've got to learn to go for the jugular when it is there," Pare said. "It was one of those things where our kids got complacent after those first two goals. Needless to say we got woken up pretty quickly by them."