On Saturday afternoon at Asiaf Arena in Brockton, the Oliver Ames boys’ hockey team advanced to the semi-finals of the Division 2-South playoffs with a 3-1 victory over Martha’s Vineyard.
It may sound routine, but it was far from it.
With the game tied at one in the third period, junior Corey McLaughlin caused the huge Tigers’ crowd to erupt as his slap shot through a screen broke the deadlock and gave OA a deserved lead. It was a remarkable time for the defenseman’s first goal of the season.
The Tigers extended the lead with 3:36 remaining when Tyler Provost tapped in a power play goal and eased the nerves on the bench and in the bleachers.
Coach Jim Sullivan was very proud of the way his team battled to come away with the victory.
“That’s a tough team, they’re a physical team," he said. "We seem to be in their end the whole night, but we need the goal to go ahead.”
Despite OA getting off to an aggressive start to the game; it was the Vineyard that scored first. Colby Gouldrup’s shot through a screen snuck inside the post and found the back of the net.
In danger of letting their early momentum slip away the Tigers responded just a minute later when forward Derek Johnson finished a nice passing play to tie the game.
“My heart was pumping. It was almost in slow-motion, you could see it coming," Sullivan said. "It was nice to see them pick their shots.”
The Tigers would come out even more aggressive in the second period, and outshot the Islanders, 16-8, but couldn't find the go ahead score.
Johnson was robbed by Vineyard goalie Noah Kleinhenz on a wrap-around attempt and senior captain Ryan McGrath deflected a shot off the crossbar as the Tigers kept all the play in the Vinyarders' zone.
At the end of the second period, the Tigers were stunned when the Vineyard appeared to take the lead on a power play, but after a discussion between the officials, the goal was waved off, keeping the score tied at one. The fortunate call would lead to third period heroics for OA.
Sullivan talked after the game about the emotional roller coaster his team went through over the first two periods.
“We were able to keep it end their end quite a bit, get some good shots, just got to get one in- and it came. I’m happy with that.”
Freshman goalie Jimmy Tierney was solid once again (16 saves) for the Tigers who played with poise that belies his relative lack of experience with hockey at this level.
Sullivan had nothing but praise for his goalie.
“We wouldn’t be here without the goalie. We didn’t expect him to step up like this. We played in a tournament down in Sandwich and we had overtime and we had a shootout so we were well-prepared for today.”
The Tigers will continue their chase for the Division 2-South sectional title against Franklin, who defeated Plymouth South, 5-1. The date and location of that game is to be determined.