Stalemate between No. 12 Billerica, Waltham

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Saturday night’s 3-3 tie between Dual County League/Merrimack Valley Conference foes Billerica and Waltham at Veterans Rink was much of the same from both sides.

Mike Mastrullo thinks his No. 12 Indians are still searching for their identity. Meanwhile, Hawks head coach John Maguire saw his team battle, then only to see another two-goal lead fall by the wayside.

In the end, both teams skated away with their fourth tie of season, unable to claim a vital second point in conference.

“That’s been our year,” Mastrullo said, “either we’re good or we’re bad. But when we’re persistent and we do the things we’re capable of doing, then things go well.”

Billerica (3-0-4, 2-0-2) certainly put their best effort forward to start, carrying play in the Waltham end for long stretches of the opening period.

Jack Jenkins had the Indians to a 1-0 lead 10:33 into the first on a terrific individual effort. After an outlet pass from Russ Tedford led Jenkins through the neutral zone, he had only one Hawk defender to beat. With a deke and a drag of the puck through the defender's legs, Jenkins broke in on Waltham goaltender Patrick Jordan and went top shelf, glove-side for the goal.

The Hawks (3-2-4, 1-2-3) drew even with the aid of their first of two power-play goals on the evening. Doug Usseglio knocked home a rebound off Chris Maguire’s shot to make it 1-1.

“I thought our penalty kill was fantastic and our power play was two-for-three, so you can’t ask for anything better than that,” John Maguire said. “Most of our guys play on both units, so I was really happy with their effort.”

After a scoreless second period, Waltham started the third period with a flurry of activity.

The Hawks put in their second power play goal of the game 23 seconds into the third on Chris Maguire’s tally, assisted by Terry Murphy and Usseglio. Mike Hanley struck 29 seconds later with a goal set up by Jack LeClair, giving Waltham a two-goal cushion.

However, Saturday’s game became the fourth time the Hawks have surrendered a two-goal lead in the third period.

John Kelleher one-timed a perfect feed from Jenkins into the net to cut the Indians’ deficit to one. Billerica tied the game with 3:30 remaining on Ross Murphy’s goal with an assist by Ross Olsson.

Jordan, who weathered the storm admirably for the Hawks in the first period, finished with 20 saves. Bob Bourgeois had 19 saves between the pipes for Billerica.

“They play the game that comes to them,” Mastrullo said of his group. “When they want to play, that’s the way they can play. It’s a challenge. It’s a mindset they need to have that they’re going to win any game they’re coming into. We haven’t established that yet.”