BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Notice to the remainder of Division 1: When Barnstable's first line is clicking, watch out.
No. 3 Milton found that out in the first period of Saturday's Div. 1 South quarterfinal with the Red Raiders when Mike McDonough and Donnie Brodd each scored two goals. Cody Pasic also added assists on all four goals as Barnstable held on for a 4-3 win.
“That first period was the best we’ve ever played and the best I’ve seen a high school play,” said Brodd. “I’ve known Cody since I was about six years old with baseball and hockey we know each other real well and we know where the other is so it works out real well.”
Donnie Brodd had the first two goals for No. 6 Barnstable at 7:35 and 9:06 of the first period, while McDonough had a power-play goal 27 seconds later and again at the 13:42 mark.
“We’ve got five or six kids that are very good and when they are on the ice they control the whole game, Barnstable coach Scott Nickerson said. “The last few games our first line has been dominate and five-on-five, they play exceptionally well.”
Despite four Barnstable goals in the first period, Milton got a boost from Jack Halloran right before the end of the period.
With 2.3 seconds left, Halloran went streaking down the left wing, and sent a wrister past Barnstable goaltender Kevin Huska inside the far post.
The Red Raiders offense sputtered in the second and third periods, mainly due to penalties. Barnstable outshot the Wildcats 15-6 in the opening stanza, but over the final 30 minutes, it was Milton that owned the advantage. Four Barnstable power plays gave the Wildcats a 16-11 shot advantage to end the game.
“I think penalties hurt us not in the fact we gave up power play goals but the fact it took away from our momentum,” Nickerson said. “On five-on-five, we dominated but when you have to kill three penalties in a row with you top guy killing penalties, it starts to slow things downs.”
On their fourth and final power play, the Wildcats’ special teams unit broke through. At 2:01 of the third period, Owen Bligh took a shot from right wing that Huska made the initial stop. The puck popped straight up into the air, landed behind Huska and crawled past the goal line to bring the Wildcats within one.
“I credit my senior and the captains for taking change and going down fighting and leaving everything on the ice,” Milton coach Paul Noonan said.
Milton got the first eight shots on net to open the third, but Huska rose to the occasion, keeping the Red Raiders on top. His two biggest saves came with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game when Connor Richard scooped the puck up behind the net and attempted the wraparound.
“I think [Huska] played well enough to win us a game but I think it was a team win,” said Nickerson. “But when needed to he made the saves.”
Onto the semifinals: With the win, the Red Raiders are two wins away from hauling in the Div. 1 South hardware and moving onto the T.D. Garden. They will match up with No. 7 Norwood, who knocked off No. 2 Archbishop Williams on Saturday night.
But whoever Barnstable is playing, Nickerson feels confident in his team that they can take on anyone.
“I honestly feel that we’ve had better teams in the past but I don’t think we’ve had teams playing as well as this team is right now or in a situation that is lined up as well to win a state tournament.”