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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Two familiar foes faced off on Monday afternoon at Canton Ice House as the Dover-Sherborn and Westwood High School boys varsity hockey teams met for their first and only regular season meeting of 2017-2018. Behind a fantastic penalty kill and 22 saves by freshman goaltender Aidan Britt, the Raiders (1-0) began their season with a 2-1 victory over the Wolverines (0-1-1).
Midway through the first period, freshman forward Tommy Higgins netted his first varsity goal and gave DS an early 1-0 edge.
Just after the goal by Higgins, Westwood was awarded two straight power plays that overlapped for 40 seconds, which included a five-minute major to DS’s Max Arnone for hitting from behind. DS killed off the five-on-three portion of the Westwood power play thanks to a pair of massive saves by Britt as well as the toughness of Higgins, who blocked consecutive shots and had to be assisted off the ice by teammates towards the end of the period. However, Westwood finally broke through 2:22 into the second period while still on the power play that carried over from period one, as Conor Donahue fired home a wrist shot from the point that found its way through traffic and passed the left pad of Britt, tying the game at one.
It took just a little over a minute for the Raiders to respond, however, as with 11:14 to play in the period, junior forward Henry Kenney smacked home the rebound of a shot from the point by Johnny Goudreault to reclaim the lead for DS at 2-1.
Following the goal by Kenney, Westwood turned up the heat and began cycling the puck effectively behind the DS net. The constant pressure and puck control forced the Raider defensemen to battle in the corners and take risks. Unfortunately, with those battles and risks came more penalties. Midway through the period, Max Arnone was assessed his second hitting-from-behind penalty of the game and was ejected, followed by another Raider heading off on a double-minor (four minutes) for checking from behind midway through the initial power play, setting up 2:30 of five-on-three time for Westwood.
On the ensuing two-man advantage, the Wolverines overloaded the front of the net with bodies and set up around the perimeter, teeing off on Britt with one-timers in search of the tying goal. The Raider penalty killers stepped up big, however, constantly clearing the puck out of their end and winning the races to loose pucks. Britt made a series of left pad saves on a net-mouth scramble in the late seconds of the power play before the puck was cleared out by senior captain Nick Marken to kill off the penalty.
With the conclusion of the penalty also came the end of period, as DS entered the third ahead at 2-1.
The third period saw DS begin to play a more disciplined game, and while Westwood still carried the majority of the scoring chances as they searched for the tying goal, the Raiders were no longer giving the Wolverines any personnel advantages with extended power play time.
With less than a minute to play, the Wolverines pulled goaltender and senior captain Justin Anderson for a six-on-five advantage. DS pinched into the shooting lanes and made block, after block, after block, before icing the puck out of their end with 15 seconds to play to set up an offensive zone draw for Westwood. The Wolverines won the ensuing faceoff, but Britt turned away a shot from the point that was tipped in front. The Raiders proceeded to tie the puck up along the boards to drown the remaining seconds on the clock and hung on for the 2-1 victory.
First-year head coach Tom Bourque credited his freshman net-minder and the two goal scorers for their performances following the win.
“Aidan (Britt) was solid in the cage,” said Bourque. “Couple of big goals by Higgins and Kenney, glad to get the win.”
DS will try and stick to their winning ways when they skate in the Dana Willard Christmas Tournament on December 16 out in Auburn, while Westwood will attempt to get into the win column when they travel to face Medway that same day.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.