Boys Hockey has a Mediocre Week; Playoff Hopes are Now in Question

Captain J.P Martignetti ’06 and linemate Chris Cahill ’06 led Andover with two goals apiece this week, while Joe Smith ’07 kicked in with four assists as PA faced a pair of tough competitors and came out with mixed results. The Big Blue hosted Governor Dummer Academy (9-9-1) for a Friday night game before the long weekend — a game in which PA had to come back from behind twice, but came away with the 4-3 win. Wednesday brought sixth-ranked Cushing (16-4-3) to Harrison Rink, where Andover started slowly, tied it up, but let the game go again, eventually losing 5-3 to a strong Purple Penguins team. Andover opened play with GDA strongly, taking only one penalty and outshooting the visitors by a 13-5 margin, but two breakaway GDA goals put Andover in a 2-0 bind going into the first intermission. With a bit of puck luck on its side, Andover refocused and came out firing in the second, and quickly its efforts turned into results, as a J.J. McGregor ’08 backhand goal and a Martignetti wrist shot went top shelf to tie the game after only two minutes passed in the period. With Andover on the penalty kill and the second period coming to a close, GDA landed a punch to the gut on a controversial goal with two minutes remaining, but Cahill would answer at 30 seconds left with a top shelf wrist snipe to tie it again and end the period. The home team’s hustle and work around the boards led to more opportunities in the third, and the Captain would score the eventual game-winner three minutes into the period, Martignetti raced from his own blue-line, one-on-one with the GDA defender, shielded the puck until faking the goalie, and went 5-hole for the tremendous individual effort, and his second goal of the game. PA kept GDA off the board to secure its fourteenth win of the season, earning a hard-fought battle as controversial goals on other occasions favoring GDA did not stop PA. A frightening collision that ended the night of Paul Scola ’06 did not slow down the Big Blue either. Scola was back in action for Wednesday as he and his teammates met Cushing for a battle of the fifth- and sixth-ranked teams in New England, and PA would again fall behind 2-0 through two periods of play. Cushing was especially deft at breaking up PA’s breakouts down the ice and keeping play in its offensive zone. “They had a much better transition game than we did tonight,” commented Andrew Cox ’08 on the play of his opponents. Then suddenly, just a half-minute into the third, Tom Dignard ’06 banged a rebound into the open half of the net to get the crowd and PA back into the game. The next shift brought the third line back onto the ice, and just 20 seconds after the first goal, Steve Bury ’08 broke into a two-on-one opportunity and snuck a wrister past Cushing’s goalie to tie the game up quickly. Matt Ward ’06 would continue to face pressure as Cushing scored twice more in the next eight minutes, increasing its lead back to two goals, before PA had much of a chance to build on its newfound momentum. Andover’s fight did not quit however, as Cahill would score with five minutes to go in the game with a power play goal, sliding the puck under the downed goalie in a scrum, with assists by Smith and Martignetti. Andover would pull Ward for the extra attacker with a minute remaining down 4-3, and kept the puck in for one good rush. An Andover forward brought the puck in from the boards and got off a shot that was blocked. Dignard’s second-effort almost found the net, but the Cushing’s goalie extended the glove before the goal line as he fell back to make the game-saving snatch. The Purple Penguins went on to score an empty-netter with four seconds left to cement the game, leaving Andover with yet another bad taste in its mouth after dropping a close contest to Cushing. Though coming back to make the game close, Andover could not overcome the deficit it created for itself in the first two periods. Andover goes into the final stretch with two away games this week, opening tonight at 6:15 versus Tabor Academy, a crucial game with playoff implications. On Wednesday, Andover will travel to 7-11-4 NMH, a streaking team fresh off a victory over Exeter. Currently, PA is in fourth place in the East playoff race, just barely ahead of Lawrence and rival Exeter.