BROCKTON, Mass. - The game plan was simple for Mansfield: be as aggressive on the forecheck as they could.
They did that and it worked, forcing turnovers that led to goals in a 6-2 win over previously unbeaten No. 25 Oliver Ames.
The Hornets pressure paid off right away, dumping the puck down into the zone before junior Jared Collins fed senior Kyle Hurley on the doorstep for a one time goal that put Mansfield up 1-0, just 2:45 into the game. The period would end 1-0 in favor of Mansfield, which outshot the Tigers, 13-6.
"That was probably our best first period this year," said Mansfield coach Rick Anastos. "We followed it up with an even better second period I thought. It was an overall good effort on both team's part."
Mansfield's pressure paid off once again, this time while on the penalty kill. As their power play came to a close, they were whistled for a minor to put them on the kill. As Oliver Ames tried to bring the puck out of their own end, junior Adam Blackman came away with the steal and went in alone on goal and beat OA goalie Jimmy Tierney to make it 2-0 Mansfield with 9:03 left in the second period.
Less than a minute later, back at even strength, the Hornets continued to push the puck into the offensive third. Sophmore Billy Grant took possession of the puck on the edge of the face-off circle to the left of Tierney and fired a wrist shot that found the back of the net.
"As the game went on, we had some lapses," Oliver Ames head coach Mark Homer said. "When you play good teams, they are going to take advantage of that."
But as expected, Oliver Ames fought itself back into the game.
The Tigers started the final frame on a power play and took advantage 52 seconds in. Senior Colin Lozzi hooked up with classmate Matt Campanella, who fired an absolute snipe past Mansfield goalie Dan Moyer to make it 3-1.
The Tigers made things even more interesting six minutes later as junior defenseman Thomas McCormack sent the puck up along the boards and it was corralled by junior Tyler Provost. Provost faked around the defender before sending a perfect cross-ice pass to classmate Timmy Doherty. Doherty took control of the puck before firing in a shot from close range to make it 3-2 with 7:56 left.
"In the locker room between the second and third periods, we told them 'Look, it's 3-0, they are coming out full force,’” Homer said. “They aren't going to lie down and more than likely going to score, because they are a good team. When they do, that’s the time you need to not panic and just play your game.'
“When they scored that second goal, there was no panic on the bench and there was no let down either."
Just when it looked like Oliver Ames was going to be back in the game, Blackman proved why he's one of the best players in the Hockomock. After Oliver Ames was caught up in a delayed offside, Collins found Blackman in the slot and his wrist shot beat Tierney, scoring with just 2:47 remaining in the game.
"He's just good," Anastos added. "That's what we want from him."
Mansfield added to their lead with two goals in the final two minutes. Senior Ryan Burns intercepted a D-to-D pass in his own end and took it alone the distance before slotting it into the back of the net to make it 5-2. Collins capped the scoring with 1:15 left with a low shot that was able to find the back of the net.
"It wasn't any one thing that went wrong this us, I thought it was several issues," Homer added. "I can put it this way, our forwards didn't score enough goals, our defense let up too many goals, and our goalie didn't stop enough goals. There was no blame on any individual player."
Mansfield outshot Oliver Ames 41-24 in the game and Anastos knows that putting six past Tierney is no small feat.
"He's the best goalie in the league," Anastos said of Tierney. "We had 41 shots, I mean he's really good, there's not much else, he's just real good. We just wanted to shoot, shoot, shoot, and we excited it on the ice and he played outstanding. And I thought our goalie Dan Moyer played real well too."
Mansfield improves to 5-1-0 and will host Milford on Saturday at 5:20 p.m.
The Tigers dropped their first game of the season and are now 3-1-1. They'll be back in action when they take on North Attleborough, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., at the Foxboro Sports Center.