- Scott Barboza, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- It was the perfect time for a milestone.
As Bridgewater-Raynham captain and forward Anthony Hardy slid the puck from the blue line toward the open Coyle-Cassidy net, the Trojans could finally breathe a sigh of relief. While tallying his 21st goal of the season and his second of the night, Hardy not only netted an empty-net goal capping off B-R’s 3-1 win Wednesday at the Bridgewater Ice Arena, it also tied the program record for goals in a season.
The Trojans advance to face Marshfield in the championship game of the South of Boston Shootout, giving Hardy one more chance to break the record. But he was simply happy to come away with a win.
“They’re a huge rival,” Hardy said. “When we see them on the schedule, we want to go out and get it.”
Neither team could find the back of the net in a tightly checked first period. However, B-R (13-4-1) got things started quickly in the second period, when 48 seconds in Pat McNamara’s blast from the blue line found its way through a crowd and past Warriors netminder Seth Lavigne (25 saves).
C-C (9-8-2) countered less than two minutes later with Nick Cambria burying a wrister assisted by Mike Jessman and Ryan Jones.
The momentum shifted back once again in the Trojans’ favor as Hardy scored his first of the game with assists from Ted Buckley and Adam McGrath.
“Buckley hit it out front and the goalie wasn’t in position,” Hardy said, “it came out to me and I just shot it.”
The Warriors comeback fell short in the third period, partially because they spent a good portion of the period short-handed. C-C had three successful penalty kills in the period, but the Warriors were unable to beat Trojans goaltender Craig Pantano, who finished with 18 saves.
“We’ve got to get a rabbit’s foot in our pocket at some point,” Warriors head coach Dave Borges said. “We’re getting shots to the net, but not getting them through. We’re having a difficult time finishing.
“We need to get those mucking goals. We need more plumbers out there.”
CONNORS IS MR. 100 FOR MARSHFIELD
Hardy wasn’t the only player setting records during the second day of the Shootout.
No. 21 Marsfield advanced to the championship game, beating 17th-ranked Xaverian, 4-2, thanks to a hat trick from senior forward Ryan Connors. While posting a four-point game, Connors also eclipsed the 100-point plateau for his high school career — although he was unaware of the milestone.
“Coach [Dan Connolly] came in, gave me the puck and said it was my hundredth,” Connors said.
Despite having no prior knowledge that he was on the cusp of the century mark, Connors left his imprint on the game.
Marshfield (13-3-5) went to the first intermission with a 1-0 lead Connors’ on first goal of the game.
The Hawks (9-8-2) tied the game, 1-1, on Joe Bina’s second-period goal. The puck deflected of a Rams defender’s skate into the net with assists from Ryan Hall and Ricky Smith.
Chris Perry restored Marshfield’s lead 6:46 into the second period on a goal assisted by Connors and Matt Entwhistle. The Hawks returned serve to tie the game once more, 2-2, on Billy Hildebrand’s tally.
Then, it was time again for Connors to take the center stage. He potted the game-winner 5:17 into the third period, gathering a loose rebound in the slot and burying into the open net. Matt Burchill and Chris Perry each picked up their second assists of the game on the play.
Connors completed the hat trick, netting an empty-netter with 30 seconds remaining.
“The last time, they tied us with a minute and 35 seconds left,” Connors said, “so it felt good to beat them.”
Rams head coach Dan Connolly found more to like in Connors’ play.
“He’s really starting to find the back of the net for us, which is good,” Connolly said. “He’s a good offensive player He’s got great speed and he showed that tonight on our second goal.”
PANTHERS READY TO POUNCE
Late-season tournaments, like the South of Boston, provide teams a final tune-up before postseason play.
If Franklin’s play during the Shootout has been any indication, they could be a very tough out in Division 2 South come March. The Panthers challenged Xaverian in a physical battle before falling, 2-1, to the Hawks on Monday. They followed up that performance with a 3-2 win over Old Colony League champion Barnstable (12-3-4).
“It’s our third year coming down here and it’s because of the competition,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said.
There are still a couple things Spillane would like to see the Panthers (13-4-2) tighten up in their final regular-season tilt against Oliver Ames on Thursday.
“We had a little let down tonight and I think both teams were a little bit off their games,” Spillane added. “We were just lucky to get a couple bounces and come out with the win.”
The meeting will be the third time the Hockomock League rivals have met.
Oliver Ames (8-8-4) punched their ticket to the Division 2 South tournament with a 4-3 win over St. Peter Marian in the early action on Wednesday.
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- It was the perfect time for a milestone.As Bridgewater-Raynham captain and forward Anthony Hardy slid the puck from the blue line toward the open Coyle-Cassidy net, the Trojans could finally breathe a sigh of relief.