Boys Hockey Falls to Exeter 4-1 in Disappointing Final Game; Lone Goal From Ty McDonald ’07 Cannot Deter Big Red Offense

Behind a trio of goals scored in a late third period flurry, Exeter put away Andover in New Hampshire on Saturday, outlasting the Big Blue in a hard-fought contest of will and wit by a 4-1 score. Postgraduate defenseman Ty McDonald ’07 blasted his ninth goal of the season for the lone tally, and Chase Potter ’09 kicked out 26 of 29 shots in the loss. The defeat to Exeter was only PA’s second in the last eight meetings with the Big Red, and marked an emotional final game for eleven PA Seniors. In the first period, the teams traded several moments of heart-pounding chances, but both goaltenders relieved their squads and fans with big play. For Andover, Bobby Farnham ’08 clanged one off the post on the power play, in what was the Blue’s best chance of the period. PA was first to break in the second period however, when one too many penalties took its toll. Exeter, on the power play moving left to right, buzzed a few hard shots wide of the net, but Tom Clayton took the shot that counted three minutes into the period. His saucer pass redirected off a player in the slot, and snuck through the legs of Potter, who was sliding to position himself on the pass. The goal broke the Lower goaltender’s streak of over 95 minutes without allowing an opponent to score. Clayton’s 18th tally of the year broke open the momentum for Exeter, and Andover seemed to play with some doubt or sense of urgency in its offensive game for the rest of the stanza. “Yeah, we started to press when we fell behind, and it really worked against us. We got out of our normal flow and it took a while for us to calm down,” said Captain Joe Smith ’07. With Exeter goalie Jon Lee stoning the Blue multiple times on nice chances, Potter stepped up big twice in the period, steering back a breakaway attempt to the glass to hold Andover to within one. But Andover struck a hard note though when Captain Smith was sent to the penalty box for five minutes to close the period. Like a conductor on an imaginary train, Smith’s shoulder check on Exeter’s Clayton was delivered with too much steam, and the Andover Senior was initially called for charging. However, with the hit, Clayton was knocked out and motionless on the ground, unaware of where he was, and would leave the game with a concussion, while Smith was assessed with a major penalty for contact with intent to injure. After the second intermission, Andover collected itself and settled down its offensive pace and flow. After Smith was freed from the box a couple minutes into the stanza, the Captain chipped the puck up the neutral zone to a free McDonald skating up the right boards. With the defender clogging the inside route but leaving room to roam, McDonald brought the puck into the offensive zone and settled the puck at the half-boards. With a monstrous wrist-shot, McDonald’s shot flew over the left shoulder of Lee and into the net. For the moment, all was right for the pack of Andover skaters pouncing on McDonald and the fans screaming in the stands. But Exeter found some luck only six minutes later, with time winding down and hope in the eyes of every fan present. In a rush into the PA offensive zone, Exeter pushed the puck deep near the left post of Potter, but was stopped by the defense and goaltender in the goal-crease. With the puck out of sight, it somehow crept under Potter’s outstretched legs and into the net, in a heart-wrenching sight for PA. In a hurry, Exeter’s Jon Dwyer added another goal on a wrist shot, placed over the blocker shoulder of Potter, that knocked the water bottle off the top of the net, and any hope PA had left in itself. Finally, in front the celebrating fans of Exeter, PEA finished off the game with an empty net goal. While this was a disappointing end to the season, it was not an end to a disappointing season.