BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – When the state tournament began a last week, Braintree head coach Dave Fasano said that to go far his club would need to stay healthy and “get a little puck luck.”
While the Wamps lacked that good fortune in the Super 8 play-in round, they certainly found some Wednesday night at the Gallo Ice Arena.
Other than an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play, the contest’s only goal was the direct result of a fortuitous hop. South sectional top-seed Braintree (15-5-3) rode that potted shot by senior Brian Gallagher to a 2-0 win over their Bay State League rivals from Framingham (13-11-1) in the Division 1 south semifinals.
Gallagher’s pretty crossover through the slot did not result in his goal early in the second period. The forward lost his handle of the puck and his bid went wide to the back wall, which is where things got interesting. Gallagher followed his miss and was the first to the puck, flinging it quickly to the front.
It ended up in the back of the net. All-star keeper Al Lynch of Framingham attempted to come off the left post to square up to threats in front of him, but the puck hit off of his left leg, from behind, and found twine.
“It was a broken play behind the net, and it just kind of bounced around,” Framingham head coach Paul Spear said. “Somebody was going to get a lucky break, and Braintree got a lucky break. It wasn’t like [Nick] Ward went around one of defensemen and dangled our goalie. They shot it towards the net, it bounced around and went in.”
The Wamps made that one stand up, thanks in large part to a superb effort by goalie Nick Anson, who stopped all 28 shots he saw in the game, including 12 in the third period.
Anson’s best stop of the game came with just under five minutes to play. Framingham forward Tyler Anes worked his way through the left circle and crossed one to the far post for a wide-open Scott Swennes, who snapped one off for the high top corner. Anson flung his glove upward and deflected the bid. Anson also had to make a big stop on an effort by Joe Gilbert with two minutes to play, just before the Flyers pulled Lynch out of the net for an extra attacker.
“The goalie made a great save," Spear said. "[Swennes] has a wicked shot. That’s his shot. You couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than that. If you give me one kid that could break a target in the top corner, it’d be Scott Swennes. That’s the story of our season…we lost 11 games this season, we were probably shut out in seven of them,”
Fasano said that his goalie may be overlooked by some, but it is obvious to the Wamps what a difference-maker he can be.
“In fairness to Nick Anson, [Lynch] is one of the best goalies in the state, MVP of the league last year, but [the saves Anson made] didn’t go unnoticed. Everyone talks about the Framingham goalie, but we’ve got a good goaltender right here. He shut out CM last week, he shut out Framingham today and he only gave up one to Falmouth. I’ll take him any day of the week.”
Framingham pulled the keeper with 1:31 left, but could not find an answer to Anson. Gino LaRossa then ended the drama with 48 seconds remaining, snapping a wrister from the blue line to sew up the Wamps trip to the south finals, which will be Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at Gallo.