KUA 5 at Andover 4; February 6, 2019
Andover, MA-The #3 Kimball Union Wildcats picked up a big road win 5-4 in a great game against the #13 Andover Academy Big Blue. Lots of momentum changes in the game. It was a high paced, high energy, well coached, clean prep hockey game. Senior Arlo Merritt (Halifax, NS) fired home the game winner with just over two minutes remaining to send the Wildcats home happy.
The crowd was thin and the rink was quiet as the first period started. KUA came out quickly and played on their toes from the puck drop. 5:35 into the game, the Wildcats scored as junior Tomas Mazura (Pardubize, CZE) worked the give and go with Zach Whitehead (Meriden, NH) on the rush. Mazura buried on the go and the score was 1-0. Secondary assist went to Teddy Griffin (Duxbury, MA) as he started the play up ice. KUA struck again a couple minutes later as senior Seth Stadheim (Lyme, NH) found a puck in a mad scramble in front and fired it home. Devan Newhook (St. John’s, NL) and Brian Carrabes (North Andover, MA) picked up assists. Andover’s Sean O’Connell (Stoneham, MA) soon after stopped the bleeding with and unassisted goal, top corner, to get the Big Blue on the board. Period ended with a 2-1 lead for the Wildcats. Shots were 13-8 in favor of KUA.
The second started well for Kimball Union as they took the opening faceoff up the ice set up the offense. Soon senior Drew Bennett (Mount Pearl, NL) tipped a Christian Felton (Medina, OH) shot home for a 3-1 lead just 22 seconds into the second. The rest of the period, however, was very different. Although the teams traded chances, Andover scored three unanswered goals. With 13:12 left, sophomore Charlie Spence (Medfield, MA) took a D to D pass from Victor Malzahn (Corona del Mar, CA) and snapped it five hole to get Andover within a goal. With about five minutes left Jonathan Assayag (Montreal, QC) had a great chance that was stopped by KUA goalie Zach Paputsakis (Rockland, ON.) However, on the ensuing offensive zone faceoff, Andover created some chaos in the crease and O’Connell scored his second with an assist to Thomas Manty (Andover, MA). It was now tied at 3-3. Then with 48.6 seconds left, Assayag tipped a Matt Veneri (Londonderry, NH) shot home to put Andover ahead for the first time. Teams went to the room 4-3 Andover. Shots were 11-11 for the period and Charlie Archer (Belleville, ON) made some nice stops to help backbone the Andover onslaught.
The third period saw another swing as KUA came out with a goalie change as junior Veeti Kohvakka (Muurame, FIN) took over in the net. Kimball Union looked determined and different as they pressured immediately. With 10:06 left in the game Teddy Griffin jumped up and tapped in a puck with assists from Mazura and junior Sullivan Mack (Anchorage, AK.) Score was now tied 4-4 and the pace quickened. Finally, with just 2:13 Griffin made a pass to Merritt. The Ohio St. commit used his speed to push a bad gap on Andover’s defense, cut laterally and fire a rocket into the top of the net from about the top of the circles. Andover Academy didn’t pack it in, they got Archer out and had a few excellent chances the last minute. Final score: KUA 5-Andover 4 in an entertaining game. Box Score
Both coaches commented briefly on the game:
Andover Coach Paul Tortorella stated after the tough loss “We couldn’t generate a good offense in the third and ended up giving up too many rushes.”
KUA Coach Tim Whitehead said “Today’s game had some crazy swings in momentum, that’s for sure. We played well in the 1st, Andover outplayed us in the 2nd, but fortunately the Zamboni came out one more time and we were able to grab the momentum back in the 3rd.”
1st Teddy Griffin (KUA)
2nd Tomas Mazura (KUA)
3rd Sean O’Connell (Andover)
NZ’s Take: It was nice to watch a game played mostly 5 on 5 as the teams played clean hockey (reflection on their coaches) and the referees lets small stuff go. For Kimball Union; Griffin had a nice night. He got on the sheet but he also blocked shots and played hard in his end. He has improved. Mack might have been the best player on the ice, certainly the fastest as he played with Mazura and Whitehead and created lots of space with just the threat of his speed off the edge. Whitehead has improved as well. Hands are quicker and he looked stronger on his skates. Game has slowed down for him. Mazura has an amazing reach and gets to lots of pucks. Also makes puck tough to read off his stick for goalies. Paul Dore (Gatineau, QC) is strong and has a real sense of how to get to scoring spots. He is a shooter, hit a post and can dominate below the dots. Felton is dangerous in the offensive end as he can move quickly off the wall along the offensive blue and moves in and out of the slot. Talented at both ends. For Andover; Mac Carso (Chicago, IL) didn’t find the back of the net but is the type of player that looks like he will score every time he shoots. Has a knack for it and is really smart. Manty is quick and his passing has improved. Used his backhand and seems relaxed and poised with possession. O’Connell scored both goals by going to the net. Smart approach. Assayag is responsible and aware. Plays mistake free and in all situations. Malzahn started out a bit slow but played well. Plays a lot and was able to separate with possession and skated up ice away from a forechecking Merritt who has good speed.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images