Icemen upset by North Quincy in D2 sectional quartersBy Jay Turner
For the second time in as many seasons, the CHS boys’ ice hockey team went into the Division 2 south sectional tournament as a legitimate title favorite, only to have their season abruptly cut short by an upstart opponent in the quarterfinal round.
Last year it was No. 7 Oliver Ames — Canton’s pesky division rival — that managed to pull off the upset, beating the No. 2 Bulldogs 2-1 in overtime at Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne.
This year it was a similar story as another seven seed, North Quincy, battled its way to a 3-2 shootout victory over the second-seeded Bulldogs at Asiaf Arena in Brockton.
“That was a tough one to swallow,” said head coach Brian Shuman, whose team went into the contest with a sparkling record of 15-2-3. “We obviously had a great season, and nothing can take away what we did, but this was a disappointing loss for our fans, our coaches, and our players. It was a tough one.”
If there was any consolation to be had, it was that North Quincy was far from the typical underdog, having entered the tournament on an 8-1-1 streak, including a 2-2 tie against Canton at Metropolis Rink just two weeks earlier.
Shuman had described that game as ugly and very “chippy.” Fortunately, the exact opposite was true on Saturday as the two teams played a “clean, physical” contest with only four total penalties.
The game started off brilliantly for Canton, with Brian Brooks scoring just five minutes into the opening period off a wrist shot from the top of the circle to make it 1-0. The Bulldogs then went up 2-0 halfway through the second period on a power play goal by senior captain Matt Malloy, with assists going to junior Justin Rudy and senior captain TJ Duggan, who was a “force” all game, according to Shuman.
By late in the second period the Bulldogs appeared to have all the momentum on their side; however, North Quincy managed to sneak in a goal with only 30 seconds left on an unusual sequence that ended with an NQ player going in alone for a breakaway.
It was déjà vu in the final frame as the Bulldogs controlled the first 14 minutes of play, only to have North Quincy deliver a game-tying goal with 40 seconds remaining off a faceoff in the Canton zone.
“For our guys, it was just a lesson in how you have to really put teams away and finish every period,” lamented Shuman after the game.
After a scoreless, 12-minute overtime period, the game would eventually come down to a shootout, with North Quincy connecting on three of five attempts and Canton finishing off just two.
“People argue that it’s a lousy way to end your season, and it is,” said Shuman. “I’ve said that even when we’ve been on the winning end of a shootout.”
In particular, Shuman hoped the loss would not overshadow the monster performance turned in by goalie Rich Nee, who singlehandedly kept the team in the game throughout the overtime period. “Rich made some huge, huge saves,” he said. “He was sprawling all over the ice.”
Shuman also expressed his gratitude for all of the fan support the team received. “It was pretty humbling to look up and see all kinds of fans come to the game,” he said. “It was a really great turnout from the Canton community.”
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