STONEHAM — If Thursday evening’s MIAA North Division 3 tournament game pitting Shawsheen Tech against Swampscott proved one thing, it’s to never let up on an opponent.
After putting up a three-spot in the first period, including a pair of goals 8-seconds apart, Shawsheen took the foot off the gas in the second and allowed Big Blue to scratch their way back into the game.
No. 6-seeded Shawsheen would prevail, 5-3, and advance to face No. 3-seed Lynn in the quarterfinals (see related story) but Coach Chuck Baker admitted that his group nearly let one get away.
“I heard some chatter in the locker room between periods and I did have to reel them in a little bit,” he said. “We played a little sloppy in the second period.”
That letdown allowed Swampscott to amass a trio of goals in a 4-minute span and draw to within one. The difference, for Shawsheen, was freshman Dylan Timmons of Wilmington, who knocked home his second of the night midway through the second to fracture the Big Blue rally. The Timmons goal later proved to be the game-winner.
“I just played my hardest for the seniors tonight and to keep our momentum going,” said Timmons, who was second in scoring during the regular season with 9-goals and 7-assists, just behind Rams forward Nathan Silva of Tewksbury. “We had a rough second period but we came back in the third and won it.”
Timmons handed the large crowd of Shawsheen faithful, gathered in the stands at the Stoneham Arena, an early lead off a feed from Silva, who won the battle for the puck in the corner and dished it to his linemate.
Swampscott goalie Victor Kratnik yielded another, just 8-seconds later, when Brady McFadden walked in off the draw and found a seam to make it 2-0. With 3:52 remaining in the first, Owen Sullivan combined with Sean Murphy and McFadden to stretch the Rams advantage. To that juncture, Shawsheen had only 5 shots on net but 3 goals to show for it.
As is often the case, penalties played a role. Coming in, Swampscott owned a potent power play and the last thing Shawsheen wanted to do, was put men in the box. At the outset of the middle frame, the Rams were down two for 1:23 on back-to-back infractions, but survived.
Later in the period, however, Swampscott struck for a power goal from Casey Williamson to slice into the deficit. Timmons added his second of the night to renew the 3-goal lead but Big Blue beat Rams netminder Kam Neault for a pair, two minutes apart, to make it interesting.
“Swampscott plays in a tough conference and they had a great line with numbers two (Zach Elwell), three (Conor Donovan), and four (Drew Olivieri),” said Baker. “When we were down two guys, we got the kill but then we didn’t react the way I wanted after that.”
Trailing 4-3 into the third, Swampscott pulled out all the stops. Big Blue skaters leveled 10-shots on Neault who stonewalled the attack. Midway through the period, Murphy gave his club a little breathing room with an insurance goal off a rebound. Kratnik made the initial stop on a bid from DJ DeRose but failed to recover as Murphy wheeled and fired. Nick Farrell was also credited with a helper on the goal that made it 5-3.
Swampscott traded Kratnik for an extra attacker with 2:03 left in the game but never really mounted a threat.
“At the end of the day, our kids worked hard to earn this win,” said Baker, whose team improved to 9-8-3 with the tournament win. “That goal to go up 5-3 was huge. Now we move on to face Lynn. When we last faced them, we were dealing with internal player issues and they beat us up pretty good. They have some big time goal scorers so we’ll have to do the same thing we did today and try to shut them down.”