KINGSTON, Mass. – Name the place, name the time, name the sport – whatever the setting and circumstance, the rivalry between Duxbury and Hingham is bound for dramatics.
Enter Dragons hockey senior forward Matt Murphy. Down a goal entering the third period of Monday’s duel with the No. 16 Harbormen at The Bog, Murphy took control of the third period, scoring two of his three goals (the tying goal and eventual game-winner) and delivering a 5-3 win for the No. 10 Dragons.
With the victory, Duxbury (8-1-3) runs its winning streak to eight games after starting the season winless in its first four.
“He’s been waiting for a game like this,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said of his captain. “Talk about a kid that loves the game of hockey. He’s got a passion for the game. He eats it, drinks it, sleeps it. He’s a guy that keeps his stuff on for a half hour after the game.”
The Dragons twice clawed back from one-goal deficits.
Hingham (6-8-1) scored the lone goal of the first period with Joe Personeni ripping off a wrister from the slot at 8:16.
Duxbury kicked off a tremendous back-and-forth second period on a Nick Marrocco goal at 5:19 before Murphy’s first provided the Dragons with their first lead of the tilt on a rebound at 9:31.
The Harbormen came back to tie the score with a power-play goal by Jonathan Shepard at 11:18. They struck again before the period was out on Patrick Colpoys’ team-leading 11th goal of the season, coming 58 seconds after Shepard’s tally.
“I thought it was exciting hockey,” Blake said. “It was a great atmosphere. It was up-and-down, both teams had chances. It was just one of those games that we thought was going to be decided in the third period.”
The Dragons received a boost straight out of the gate in the third, taking their first power-play chances of the game 12 seconds in. Murphy cashed in at 1:04, with Marrocco picking up his second point of the game on the assist.
On the next shift, Murphy put home the eventual game-winner, just 38 seconds later. He had a gaping net to shoot at, thanks to some nifty work on the assist.
After working the puck down low, winger Matt Saia played the puck out of midair from the side of the net, across the top of the crease to a waiting Murphy, in a tremendous display of hand-eye coordination. He hit Murphy directly on the tape.
“I know he’s got tons of skill, I know Saia like that,” Murphy said. “I saw the puck there and I said, ‘Please bat it over to me.’ He put it right on my stick and I tapped it in, it was unbelievable.”
The Dragons added an insurance goal with 2:14 to play, when Kevin Corcoran collected a loose puck at the blue line and rumbled up the right wing , letting go of a wrist shot from the circle.
A neutral turns positive: The neutral zone battle switched hitherto during a well-paced second period, but Duxbury dominated the middle part of the sheet in the third.
The Dragons found a measure of success throughout with pass crisscrossing the width of the ice and were able to gain the blue line with speed.
It was part of a concerted effort for Duxbury to clean up its act in the pivotal portion of the ice.
“We’ve been working on our turnovers in the neutral zone and trying to limit them,” Murphy said. “We played great tonight, dumped the puck in, chased it, set up our play and it worked out flawlessly.”
The road ahead: While the Dragons gain bragging rights and further momentum toward a potential run at a Super 8 tournament berth, the loss marks the beginning of another streak for a Harbormen squad which only trended in one of two directions this season.
After starting the season 0-6-1, Hingham rolled through the holidays and its early January schedule with six straight wins. But the Harbormen are now faced with another two-game losing skid after a pair of losses against Top 25 ranked opponents (St. John’s of Shrewsbury and Duxbury).
Sitting on the south side of .500, a playoff push in the final month of the season is only complicated for the Hingham, which annually plays one of the toughest Division 1 schedules in the state as an independent.
To qualify for the tournament, the Harbormen realistically will have to win five of their final seven contests – at least five of those games will again come against teams ranked in last week’s Top 25.
“The games that we won in that streak, we played good defense and we scored some timely goals,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said. “I tell them that that’s the way we’re going to have to win. Sometimes we get a little too anxious and jump up into the play and create opportunities [for the opposition].”