Boys Hockey in, then out, of Playoffs

After storming into the playoffs with a decisive 2-0 win over arch-rival Exeter, Andover proved to be no match for number one seed St. Paul’s, ending what was an impressive season on a down note. Saturday, Andover’s defense and goalie Glenn Stowell ’09 shut out Exeter and secured the team a spot in the playoffs. Neither team demonstrated any offensive flow early in the game, because the first period was riddled with penalties and injuries. At the end of the period, Andover lost forward Tucker Mullin ’08 to a shoulder injury after a hit from behind in the Exeter end, and Andover was forced to play on without one of its top offensive threats. The game headed into half-time tied at 0-0. The second period was more open, and both teams received several good scoring opportunities. At about the 8:00 mark in the second period, Captain Andrew Cox ’08 sent a pass to Bobby Farnham ’08, sending him on a breakaway. Farnham could not capitalize however, and missed the net wide left. Later in the period, Exeter received a great chance in the Andover end, but Stowell made a difficult glove save to keep the game tied at 0-0. Andover came out flying in the third period and was finally able to break the deadlock. At the 5:09 mark of the third period, Nick Craven ’09 scored his third and biggest goal of the season. After the Exeter goalie made several impressive saves, the puck squirted out to Craven in the slot. He buried it through a scrum in front to give Andover the first lead of the game. Andover defense stepped up and prevented Exeter from tying the game. At the 15:55 mark, Andover sealed the victory with a second goal. Farnham received a pass and skated down the left wing. After making a move a the blue-line, he sent a pass across to Brooks Dyroff ’09 who buried to shot in the upper left corner, giving Andover a 2-0 lead with just two minutes remaining. The Andover defense, behind an 18-save shutout by Stowell, held the lead, and Andover clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the East division of the New England playoffs. Andover’s Cinderella story came to an abrupt end Wednesday at St. Paul’s. After going 13-1-1 in its past 15 games, Andover was handed a 7-1 defeat by first seed St. Paul’s. St. Paul’s proved to be the clearly superior team, jumping out to a 6-0 lead. Andover was added a goal off of a scrum in front of the net to get on the scoreboard, but St. Paul’s added another to finish the game at 7-1. Despite the disappointing finish to the season, Andover’s future appears to be very bright. With a team composed of many underclassmen, Andover can only improve and should be very strong next year. Andover will lose forwards Cox, Farnham, J.J. McGregor ’08 and Steve Bury ’08, Tucker Mullin ’08, and John Burke ’08 to graduation. Defensively, Jack Walsh ’08 and Pat Keegan ’08 will graduate this year.