“They (Salem) were down a defenseman and we have two first-team NEC all stars,” said O’Donnell referring to Heckman and Ouellette. “They’ve taken us this far so at that point, they had to carry us.”
Peabody pushed its own lead to three goals with just under six minutes left in the game. The Witches, who have showed guts all season, battled back behind senior attacker Chad Coehlo (eight goals). Coehlo tied the game for the Witches with 40 seconds left after a Peter Slattery shot hit a defender and popped over the cage to Coehlo, who took two steps and rifled the ball into the back of the net.
Coehlo, Matt Willson (two goals), Slattery (three goals, one assist) and Matt Muse (one goal, three assists) all fought valiantly for the Witches, who could have pulled out the victory with a few more defensive stops.
“We were down three (goals) and we battled. The kids have a lot of heart,” said Nardella. “They were selling out for each other and that’s what it’s all about. We kept holding the rope, no matter how tough it got.”
Meadowcroft (eight saves), Salem’s keeper, made a crucial save that allowed the Witches to tie the game when he stoned Josh Fiore cold on the doorstep with just over a minute left in the game.
Not to be outdone was his counterpart Evan Connolly (10 saves). The Peabody keeper’s last stop for the Tanners was anything but ordinary. Willson won the faceoff to start the extra period and Salem got the shot it wanted with Slattery getting the ball right at the top of the crease. He went waist-high on Connolly’s stickside and the Peabody goalie met him there.
Heckman’s game-winner came on the ensuing possession.
“Evan (Connolly) made the best save of his life,” noted O’Donnell.
Fiore (goal, assist), Eric Hennessey (three goals), Jeremiah Manfra (goal) and Reed Foster (goal) were the other Peabody goal-scorers while Billy Muse and Craig Denehy recorded a marker each for Salem. Willson had another outstanding day taking faceoffs but Peabody evened things out on the draw by being better on groundballs.