By Keith B. Wehmeyer
FALMOUTH — All it took was 30 seconds.
Trailing by one, Greely scored two goals in the final half-minute of the second period to take the lead and eventually defeat rival York 5-3 Monday at Family Ice Center.
“It was very important,” said Greely coach Barry Mothes. “One of the more important 30- or 40-second stretches of the season so far.”
Trailing 3-2, senior Kyle Selig flicked a wrist shot on goal from atop the left face-off circle. York goalie Alex Ahrikenchikh dropped to his knees and blocked the shot, but couldn’t control the rebound, which was chopped in by senior Brian Allyn with 28 seconds remaining in the period.
“That is exactly the type of goal we have been talking about wanting to get, needing to get, for weeks,” Mothes said.
The Rangers offense has been superb this season, averaging over five goals per game, but lately Mothes has been emphasizing that not every goal needs to be highlight-reel worthy.
“Every goal can’t be tic-tac-toe with three or four beautiful passes,” he said. “You love those goals when you can get them, but in the flow of a low-scoring, tight game you have to get pucks to the net any way you can and hope for a bounce, hope for a tip, hope for a rebound.
“We have been talking a lot about how important it is to throw pucks to the net without necessarily trying to score all the time.”
Monday, his team listened, outshooting York 47 to 14.
Seconds after Allyn’s goal, senior Kevin Hart gave Greely the lead, sending a wrister into the top corner with 1.2 seconds remaining in the period.
It was a weak shot by Hart’s standards, who typically fires lasers from all corners of the ice, but the puck bounced off a defender and found the net. York had attempted to clear the puck from the zone, but Hart picked it off the boards just inside the blue line, pivoted to his forehand and threw it towards the goal, capping off the Rangers two-goals-in-30-seconds spurt to close the second period.
Up until that point Ahrikenchikh, a sophomore in his first varsity season, had been frustrating the Rangers’ offense. The York goalie was shutting down each Greely scoring opportunity, gloving multiple hard slapshots and closing the door on his five hole to keep the Wildcats in the lead.
Greely showed the other side, the finesse side, of its offense, earlier in Monday’s showdown. A minute into the first period, standout freshman Brian Hart forced a York turnover and streaked up ice along the boards, firing a pass to sophomore John Downey who was crashing the far post. Downey than slid the puck back to Hart, who tipped it past Ahrikenchikh for the game’s first goal.
York, however, answered, scoring just 12 seconds later and setting the tone for what would be a tight, back-and-forth contest.
The Rangers retook the lead with 2:13 remaining in the period on a goal by sophomore Tucker Geoffroy from Brian Hart. Hart slid a pinpoint pass through traffic to Geoffroy who was camped at the far post and able to knock it in.
The Wildcats wouldn’t go away though, tying the game at two with less than 10 seconds remaining in the opening period and eventually taking its only lead with 3:23 remaining in the second. Greely senior defenseman Jake Downey turned the puck over at the point, allowing David Figlioli to go one-on-one on senior goalie Sam Kurland, who couldn’t stop York’s star forward.
Figlioli has scored 14 goals in York’s last four games, but had to leave Monday’s contest in the third period with a slight concussion.
Greely sophomore Justin Murphy accounted for the 5-3 final with a third period goal.
The Rangers defeated the Wildcats, 7-1, in the teams’ first meeting this season, but York, who has no seniors and only four juniors, one of which was out with an injury, hung with the Rangers Monday.
“(Greely is) the No. 1 team in the league right now,” said York coach Michael Vessey. “We knew they would be strong. We just wanted to improve our showing…I am not disappointed with a 5-3 loss. It’s a moral victory for us.”
Greely (which has now twice avenged last year’s Western B final loss) continues league play against Scarborough Wednesday (too late for this edition) and Saturday against Presque Isle (in a 2:30 p.m. contest at the Cumberland County Civic Center).
The Rangers are 7-1 and have the top spot in the Western B Heal Points standings.
Brian and Kevin Hart were honored as Western Class B Hockey Players of the Month for December.
Kevin Hart was named Defenseman of the Month. Brian Hart was chosen Co-Rookie of the Month, along with York’s Craig DeCato.