Following a Disappointing Flood-Marr Tournament and OT Loss To Choate, Boys Hockey Defeats Tilton 5-3 at Home

Andover’s struggles were put on hold Wednesday, as the Blue defeated Tilton 5-3 at home. The win improved PA’s record to 4-5, and was a strong effort following Saturday’s tough 3-2 overtime loss at Choate. Over winter break, PA participated in the 42nd Annual Flood-Marr tournament, which is arguably the most competitive holiday tournament in New England. Andover marched out with a 1-3 record and 7th place, with the only win coming against Kimball Union on the final day. In the first game of the weekend, the Blue drew the host and number two ranked Nobles & Greenough, and lost by a score of 2-1. The competition was tight however, and Andover outshot Nobles on the way to breaking up the opposing goalie’s three-game shutout streak. While the end of the game produced many close opportunities for the Blue, they could not put away the equalizer and left without a win, but knowing they could compete with the best. Later that night, PA challenged the number four ranked Westminster School, but inconsistency and inexperience at defense would come back to hurt the Blue. Following the 4-0 loss to Westminster, Andover followed up with another loss to defending prep champion Salisbury School, and left frustrated on the losing end of a 7-0 score. Saturday’s long bus ride to Choate certainly didn’t help Andover, as the Blue got out to a slow start in Connecticut. In front of a hostile crowd, Choate out shot PA 11-5 in the first period and opened a 1-0 lead on a shot that found its way past a screened Glenn Stowell ’09 in net. Things would take a change for the best in the second period however, as Andover kept the pressure in the offensive zone for the majority of the play. Though Choate’s shot-blocking efforts paid off on defense, Andover got on the board midway through the period when Farnham ’08 stole a puck at center ice. J.J. McGregor ’08 found his way to the front of the goalmouth, and passed to Andrew Cox ’08 for the open net goal. The teams traded goals in the third period, with Choate striking first, but Smith ’07 would answer for Andover, tying the game with 6 minutes to play on a feed from Stephanian ’07. In overtime, the play was back-and-forth, and after Andover missed a close opportunity of its own, Choate struck for the win on its counterattack with a minute left to play in OT. Andover got right to work against Tilton, as captain Joe Smith ’07 scored 2 goals in the opening stanza, one within the first 30 seconds, to break out to a 2-0 lead. Bobby Farnham ’08 tallied onto the lead in the 2nd, when his 2-on-1 dish to Wes Stephanian ’07 was initially stopped, but his second effort slid under the diving Tilton goalie for a 3-0 score. In the third, Tilton closed to within one goal, but PA killed the last effort to seal the win with an empty netter. Choate took 14 penalties in the game, but Andover was unable to make them pay with a power play goal. The movement on the power play was constrained to the perimeter, leaving the forwards down low struggling to get open. “We’ve been working on the power play every day, this must have been our first PP goal in six games,” said Ryan Young ’07 of Andover’s 4th goal against Tilton. “We’ve been trying to work in an overload formation, but then transition to an umbrella,” said captain Smith, who has changed his role to a left wing on the overload while walking up to man the point on the umbrella. The Andover penalty kill has been rock solid in the meantime though, and limited Tilton to very little pressure at all on the PP. Tomorrow evening brings archrival Exeter to the Ted, where the 7-5 but slumping Red will be looking to take the first of the two-game season series. Andover is 6-1 in its last seven meetings with Exeter, but last year’s season-ending loss at home is still burned in the minds of the Blue.