With the match deadlocked at 2-2 and two minutes remaining in Andover Boys Hockey’s game against Choate, Billy Stahley ’16 intercepted a Choate clearance and charged through yards of open ice, firing off a wrist shot before the Choate defender could engage. The shot deflected off the goalie to Tyler Levine ’16, who slammed a backhander through traffic for the game-winning goal on Saturday.
Choate piled on pressure in the last minute of the match, but Andover’s defense remained resolute, ending the game with a 3-2 win. Andover capitalized on its momentum with a thrilling 4-3 win against Tilton on Wednesday, extending its record to 6-6-1.
In the first period against Choate, both teams struggled to find the net and dominate possession of the puck. Post-Graduate goalie Matt Schoen ’16 worked tirelessly to prevent Choate’s attack with several crucial saves.
Early in the second period, Captain Payton Jancsy ’16 tossed Levine a deft pass, giving Andover its first goal. After a string of penalties, Choate preyed on Andover’s fatigued defense to bring the score to a tie. The teams remained locked at 1-1 for the rest of the second, but Stahley jammed in a rebound from Levine only 1:40 into the third.
Halfway through the third period, Choate tied the game at 2-2 on a shorthanded goal. A defensive battle ensued until Stahley and Levine broke the stalemate in the final minutes of the game. Choate pulled its goalie, but couldn’t get the puck past Schoen and the impenetrable Andover defense.
Working off each other’s strengths, Stahley and Levine scored both of Andover’s third-period goals.
Levine said, “[Stahley] came in and immediately started playing a really huge role. He’s a really big guy, he distributes the puck well and he’s very speedy. I like to play a fast game as well, and that lets us compliment each other nicely.”
By securing the win against Choate, Andover improved its undefeated record at home to 4-0-1.
Head Coach Paul Tortorella ’80 said, “We’re more rested when we’re playing at home, and we’re also energized by the crowd. When your friends are watching, maybe you’re a little more aware of the need to raise the competition level.”
Andover brought its heightened level of play to its game against Tilton on Wednesday, and walked away with a narrow 4-3 victory. With Tilton tripling Andover’s shot count, Schoen’s 49 saves were crucial for the victory.
Facing Tilton, Andover started slowly, conceding a goal in the first period and fielding a largely stagnant offense. Despite trailing 1-0 at the start of the second period, Andover found its stride when its rejuvenated offense piled on three goals.
Jancsy said, “The long bus ride up to Tilton is always a tough one. Sometimes it is difficult to get your legs going after sitting on a bus for more than an hour. Because of that, we started off a little slow. Halfway through the first, we were able to start buzzing and eventually able to create some offense, which carried on into the second.”
Tilton came roaring back in the third to assault Andover’s 3-1 lead. Caught off-guard, Andover gave up two goals to a Tilton offensive onslaught.
Jancsy said, “I think Tilton did a great job staying focused after going down two goals. They were a great team and definitely did not give up. We stuck to our game plan, but a few defensive breakdowns led to their two goals at the start of the third.”
With just three minutes left in the third, Andover began a dynamic offensive effort into Tilton territory. Jancsy led the charge and carried the puck before passing it off to Levine, who then found forward Jack Cusack ’18 with a crucial pass. With the defense unable to recover from Levine’s cross-ice pass, Cusack slotted away the puck into a wide-open net to secure Andover’s victory. Cusack scored two goals in the match, and Levine contributed three assists.
Looking forward, Andover will seek a fourth straight win against Phillips Exeter Academy on Saturday.