By Dan Harrison
---- — SOUTH HAMILTON — Trailing by three goals going into the third period and in danger of dropping its first four games of the season, the Pingree boys’ hockey team was getting desperate in its home opener last night against Moses Brown.
Only the Highlanders didn’t look it.
Coach Gino Khachadourian’s boys kept it simple in the final frame, and that approach worked wonders as Pingree scored four unanswered goals to grab its first win of the season, 5-4 over the Quakers.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Khachadourian. “The boys finally woke up. They showed character and resilience coming back from a three-goal deficit. We were keeping it simple, getting pucks to the point and hammering them to the net.”
Pingree (1-3) senior captain Brandon Franco scored the second of his two third-period goals with just under two minutes remaining for the game-winning score. He corralled a puck just inside the half-wall, turned and fired a quick snapshot that surprised Moses Brown (4-2) netminder Connor Friend on the short side.
“We definitely needed a little pep talk (before the third period),” said Franco. “We weren’t doing the little things and we weren’t winning battles. We had to change our attitude and play with heart.”
Franco’s first marker came earlier in the period when he jumped on a Quakers’ turnover in their own end and sniped the puck top shelf on Friend. Franco and his linemates — Ryan St. Pierre and Cam Schmitt — really turned it on in the third period as the Highlanders’ second line pressured the Quakers shift after shift.
Schmitt scored the first goal of the period when he tipped home a shot from the point by Matt Cavanaugh. “I definitely have to give credit to my line,” said Franco. “They were getting the puck in the zone and cycling down low, and I was able to find the puck a couple of times.”
The second line turned it on late for Pingree, but it was the first line that was the most consistent for three periods.
Sophomore Mike Riley banged home a one-timer from senior captain Sean Khachadourian in the first period to put Pingree ahead, 1-0. Khachadourian moved behind the Moses Brown net and, as the defenseman cycled down to play the puck, he slid a perfect pass to a wide-open Riley.
In the third period, first line centerman Chris Usseglio (another captain) put home a rebound off of Ryan Lovell’s shot from the point to tie the game at 4-4.
The Pingree defense was outstanding in the offensive end, correctly picking when to pinch and doing so with an attitude. The Highlander defense also found a way to get shots to the net — especially in the third period after seeing a bunch of attempts blocked in the first two periods.
“The defense has been our catalyst all season,” explained Gino Khachadourian. “They pinch in, they play the body and they allow us to break out easily.”
The Pingree defense wasn’t flawless, though. The Highlanders made a number of bad turnovers in their own end, including a poor giveaway right in front of goalie Chris DeVito which led to a goal by Quakers forward Ed Hannon that tied the game at 1-1.
Stephen Gowen scored in the second period for Moses Brown off another Pingree turnover before a pair of penalties led to two more Quaker goals.
“We have a lot of young guys, but we have to limit those turnovers,” said the elder Khachadourian. “Guys are gripping their sticks a little too tight. Against a good team those will end up in the back of our net.”
Pingree 5, Moses Brown 4
at Johnson Rink, Hamilton
Moses Brown: 1 3 0 — 4
Pingree: 1 0 4 — 5
First period: P, Mike Riley (Shawn Khachadourian, Chris Usseglio), 9:54; M, Ed Hannon (Colt King, Tyler Poland), 10:40.
Second Period: M, Stephen Gower (Sam Greenfield), 3:35; M, Colby Farnham (King, Alex Towey), 6:15; M, Poland (un), 16:34.
Third Period: P, Cam Schmitt (Matt Cavanaugh), 1:35; P, Brandon Franco (un), 4:04; P, Chris Usseglio (Ryan Lovell), 6:09; P, Franco (Schmitt, Ryan St. Pierre), 16:08.
Saves: M, Connor Friend 28; P, Chris DeVito 22.
Records: M, 4-2; P, 1-3.