Hockey Beats Exeter

With a heartbreaking loss to Bridgton Academy still fresh in their memories, the Andover Boys Hockey team entered the week anxious to rally. And rally they did. Demolishing arch rival Phillips Academy Exeter 5-1 last Saturday night, and then battling it out in a single overtime 4-3 thriller with Saint Sebastians this past Wednesday, the Boys in Blue have improved their record to an impressive 9-2. Last Saturday night, in the bowels of the concrete icebox that is the Exeter athletic facility, the Big Blue and the Big Red took to the ice in an Andover/Exeter Winter 2004 preview. Now, perhaps it was the hundreds of red screaming fans, or the unfamiliarity with the Exeter ice, but whatever it was, the Andover team struggled early. Exeter capitalized on Andover’s sluggish start, scoring in the fourth minute of the period on a scrum in front of the net. Realizing that they now had a game to play and encouraged by a small contingent of Andover fans in attendance, the Boys in Blue rallied quickly. Towards the end of the fifth minute, Left Wing Kyle Kucharski ’05 was able to score off a rebound and tie the game at one. The period ended tied, and despite the equal score, the Exeter squad out shot the Andover team 14-4. PA came back strong, however, in the second period. The Boys in Blue took the lead when Stephen Rolecek ’05 capitalized off a Jed McDonald ’04 rebound to put Andover up 2-1. From there on out, the Big Blue controlled the game, out-shooting their Exie foes 20-12 in the second period. After a productive second period, the third period was simply more of the same: Andover domination. In the third minute of the period, Michael Foley ’04, on a break away on the left side of the ice, deked left, then backhanded it top shelf to give PA the 3-1 lead. Foley came right back to score another, when with a mere 5:52 left to play in the game Exeter pulled their goalie, and on another Foley break-away he found the back of the net to further increase Andover’s lead. Then to cap it off, as if a 4-1 lead was not enough, Kucharski broke away on an Exeter power play, deked out the goalie, and scored a shorthanded goal to end the game at an embarrassing 5-1. The St. Sebastians game proved to be a different challenge. With both teams ranked highly in the New England Prep League poll, this was a highly anticipated game that could hurt or help either team’s post-season hopes. After seventeen minutes of fairly even transitional play, in the dwindling seconds of the first period, McDonald passed to Rolecek from the blue line and the upper was able to finish to give the Boys in Blue a commanding first period lead. The second period proved to be significantly tougher, with St. Sebs controlling the puck. With Andover losing two players to penalties, St. Sebastians was handed a 5-3 power play situation and tied things up. Rolecek responded shortly after with a shorthanded goal, his second goal of the game, which sailed five-hole and reclaimed the PA lead. St. Sebs came right back, however, scoring two quick goals in the last five minutes of second period play, and upon entering the third period the Boys in Blue trailed by a goal. The third period was a nailbiter. After seven minutes of fairly even scoreless play, John Paul Martignetti ’06 took the puck coast to coast on a break away, deked right, then put it in to retie the game. After playing out the remaining eleven minutes of play in regulation time, with neither team able to find the back of the net, the game ran into sudden death overtime. The fans hushed silence, with 2:26 left in the first OT, Martignetti stole the puck from a Sebs forward backhanded it to Joe Smith ’07, who promptly put the shot top shelf to give Andover the lead and their ninth win. In both games team Captain and Goalie Cory Schneider ’04 was a force to be reckoned with, but especially so against St. Sebastians. Cory made glove saves, kick saves, and stick saves all game and kept his boys in blue in it until the very end.