Captain David Belluche ’14 set up at the point and sniped the top left corner, drawing a huge roar from the crowd and widening Andover Boys Hockey’s lead to 3-1.
Rowdy fans packed the Ted Harrison Rink, as the team faced off against Exeter, its rival, in the final game of the regular season last Saturday.
In a previous meeting this season, Andover fell 7-1 to Exeter. Exeter boasted an impressive 21-4-3 record, while Andover’s was 15-6-4. This time, despite an early lead, Andover took a 3-3 tie against Exeter.
Andover refused to let the previous matchup loom over its head.
“I think everyone realized we are a different team now than the team we were during that loss, [and] we were very confident in ourselves,” said Assistant Captain Michael Lata ’14.
One minute into the game, Exeter gained a 1-0 advantage. “We came out a little slow in the first. It took us a while to get our legs going, but about halfway through the first, we started skating with them,” said Gordon Coulter ’16.
With 8:30 left in the first period, Andover regained some momentum, and Zach Weinger ’15 tied the game for Andover off of a rebound from a drive to the net from Patrick Daly ’15.
Bryan Ackil ’14 followed with another goal, giving Andover a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.
In the second, a goal from Belluche gave Andover a commanding 3-2 lead.
Exeter, however, found ways to score late in the second and third periods to tie the game.
“We made sure everyone was trying to jump on the puck and going 110 percent,” said Assistant Captain Michael Kim ’14.
Andover, which frequently threatened but never scored, kept applying pressure, but Exeter’s goalie secured a number of saves.
Head Coach Dean Boylan said, “We had a chance to make it 4-2. We outshot them, but we couldn’t get them.”
After a ferocious overtime including a power play for both Andover and Exeter, the game ended in an 3-3 tie.
“The team played a hell of a game; everyone worked their tail off, and now, we just need to keep preparing for the next game,” said Kim.
Jay Tucker ’14 said, “I think we responded well to tying, we left everything on the ice. Michael Lata was cramping pretty bad at the end of overtime. The kid could barely skate, but he kept going out for his shifts.”
Regardless of the result, a game against Exeter was useful in preparing for the playoffs. “We showed a lot of composure, and playing against these teams definitely helps us prepare for the playoffs,” said Kim.
Boylan continued, “I thought we competed really well against Exeter. I was very proud of the way we played.”
Tucker added, “It’s always disappointing to tie these games when you have the lead late in the game, but we’re using it as added motivation for the playoffs.”
The team will be the number two seed in the large-school playoffs after ending its season with a record of 8-4-1 and only suffering one loss at home all year.
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