By Joe Mitchell
The Lynnfield High School boys’ hockey team found out last week that nobody’s perfect.
After winning its first five games, the Pioneers played perhaps their worst game of the season, according to Coach Jon Gardner, and as a result they were narrowly defeated by Winthrop, 2-1 in the second game of the annual Kasabuski Christmas Tournament in Saugus.
“We had our worst game of the year against Winthrop, and were still in a 1-1 game with three minutes left,” said Gardner. “But give Winthrop credit. They were motivated after we beat them last year in the postseason, and were then whacked by North Reading in the first game of the Kasabuski Tournament. They wanted this one.”
The Vikings scored the game-winner on a breakaway with a minute remaining on the clock.
Joey Mack tied up the contest for the locals on a power play goal with three minutes to go assisted by George Deroche.
But once again, goalie Aidan Kelly was the story of the game. Winthrop controlled the play throughout, while also winning the shots battle, 25-15. “Kelly definitely kept us in this game,” said Gardner.
“That was our second game in 18 hours, and it was also Christmas break. You never know what they might give up under those circumstances, but we are not making any excuses. Winthrop just played better than us,” added the veteran coach. “We can beat anybody on our schedule, but by the same token we can lose to anybody on our schedule. We just have to be ready to play every game.”
The Pioneers did get back on the winning side of the scoreboard last Saturday after beating North Reading by the narrowest of margins, 1-0. The Hornets, in fact, outshot the locals, 20-14.
“Most of our chances were from the periphery, and even though he recorded the shutout [Kelly] was fighting the puck in this game,” said Gardner. “He’s ordinarily technically sound, but the defense was able to help him out by clearing any rebounds out of the zone.”
The Lynnfield boys ended up scoring the winning goal five minutes into the game. Will Garofoli lit the lamp set up by Chris Flannery and Kyle Nekoroski.
The Pioneers are now 6-1 overall, and 3-0 in the Cape Ann League. They will now host Peabody at the Peabody rink on Saturday, Jan. 6, starting at noon. Newburyport then comes to Peabody for a big CAL clash with Lynnfield Wednesday, Jan. 10, starting at 8:15 p.m.