BOURNE -- With the hockey team up 1-0 late in the third – thanks to a goal from sophomore Justin Davidner with about five minutes left in the second period – the Tigers were smelling upset against fellow Hockomock League foe Franklin during the Division 2 South semifinals at Gallo Ice Arena.
But unlike Saturday’s , OA’s luck went the other way in its 2-1 loss to Franklin.
The No. 3 seeded Panthers advance to the Division 2 South Finals on Sunday against either Coyle-Cassidy or Plymouth South.
With 3:21 left in the period, Franklin tied the game at 1-1 when junior forward Adam Hall gathered the puck in front of the OA net and buried it past senior goalie Mackenzie Shalin.
Despite the loss, Shalin stopped 37 and gave his team a chance to steal the victory, much like he did against Canton.
“Mac has been great all year long,” said OA coach Dan Scott about his senior goalie. “You can’t fault him on both those shots. Those were two sniper shots from two good players who score goals for them.
“I couldn’t ask more from Mac. He made some clutch saves and he did a great job all year.”
Although OA was outshot by a wide margin (39-17), the Tigers limited the number of quality chances by Franklin.
But after Hall’s goal, one could sense, that Franklin would seemingly take the momentum right back, especially with the physicality between the two teams throughout the contest.
“They kept it coming and both teams didn’t shorten their bench and both teams ran three lines, which you have to do in a game like that. It was physical,” explained Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “We start to carry the play into their zone and it was just a matter of getting quality shots on net.”
“This game was definitely much more physical than the other three games we played in,” said Scott, who coached against Franklin for the fourth time this season. “I thought both sides gave it a little extra. It was a very physical game and very demanding.”
Moments later, senior forward James Marchand again gathered the puck in front of the OA net and beat Shalin for the game-winner with exactly a minute remaining in regulation.
“It was only a matter of time before we were going to break through,” said Spillane. “Once we got that first one, we just told our kids that we need to throw everything at the net and good things will happen. We needed to get in front of the net and that’s where we scored our two goals."
Despite the loss, the Tigers exceeded expectations and advanced this far for the first time in nearly 25 years.
With its recent success the past couple of seasons, OA will be looking for bigger and better things down the road.
“It’s been about 25 years since we’ve advanced to the third round of the state tournament,” Scott said. “The future is pretty bright here. We had a lot of sophomores on this team and we only graduate seven seniors. We have a lot of youngsters here and I thought it might have been a rebuilding year and I think it turned out to be a pretty great season.
“I’m proud of these guys. They’ve gave it everything they’ve got. That’s all I can ask for.”