NORTH ANDOVER — Penalties turn the tide in many hockey games, but not in this manner.
Andover held a tenuous 4-2 lead five minutes into second-period play yesterday when senior goalie Dan McLaughlin made a nice left pad save on North Andover forward Jake Silk’s wrist shot.
A loose rebound dribbled to a wide-open Derek Hunter on the right doorstep and the senior was poised to tuck the puck in the open net. That is, until Warrior sophomore Will Sauerbrunn dug his stick into Hunter’s side, spinning him around and away from the puck.
Trading a penalty for a goal was a no-brainer, but an unbelievable short-handed score from Scott Campbell 26 seconds later turned the sequence into a game-changer as the Warriors eventually sprinted to a 6-3 victory.
“I’d rather take the risk of playing short-handed,” said Sauerbrunn of his decision. “I had to haul (Hunter) down, it could have easily been a tap-in goal.”
“That’s what Will is, a hard-working, team-first guy,” said Andover head coach Mike Ciarletta. “He does those types of things — he blocks more shots than anyone, and I’m happy to say he’s on our side.”
And just seconds after dodging that bullet, Campbell turned in one of the best individual efforts of the season. Dogged from the blue line in by a determined Knight defenseman, the senior somehow kept control of the puck while being bodied down, switched to his backhand and fired a perfect knee-level shot into the right side of the net.
“It’s all from practice, every day we work on shots, shots, shots,” said Campbell, who finished the day with a hat trick. “I saw space between myself and the defenseman and saw an open space in the net. I just transitioned and shot.”
The goal was the highlight of a middle-period explosion of four unanswered goals that got Andover back to the .500 plateau (5-5-1).
“I don’t think we matched North Andover’s intensity in the first period and we were lucky to get out of it with a 2-2 tie,” Ciarletta said.
“We challenged the guys between periods and I think they responded well, getting more pucks to the net and generating opportunities.”
“(Andover’s) a good team, so it was no surprise at what happened,” said North Andover head coach Peter Marfione. “We didn’t respond right, and that’s what happens when you do that against a good team.”
In just his second start this year, McLaughlin made several key saves to keep the Warriors equal in the first period and held a revived Knights squad to just one third-period score.
“We’ve had some growing pains and there certainly was no letdown in our schedule, but when we tied Arlington Catholic with a second left, that was a turning point for us,” Ciarletta said. “That gave us a lot of confidence and we’ve gone 4-1-1 from that game.”
Andover 6, North Andover 3
Andover (5-5-1): 2 4 0 — 6
North Andover (6-7): 2 0 1 — 3
Goals: A — Scott Campbell 3, Brett Coneeny, Conor O’Reilly, Danny Keenen; NA — Chris Nigro, Jake Silk, Derek Hunter
Assists: A — Mark Campbell 2, Tyler Weeks, Conor Silk, Zach Walker, Andrew Eriksen; NA — Nick DiDuca, Hunter, Nick Pino
Saves: A — Dan McLaughlin 25; NA — Ben Ryan 24
The Warrior's Code At the close of 2012, Andover was 1-4-1 and had been shut out three times. Head coach Mike Ciarletta was looking for something to turn the team around and came up with The Warrior's Code, an oath that every coach and team member signed on New Year's Day. "We drew this up and we've gone 4-1 since," Ciarletta said. "This changed things." The oath reads: "By signing this, I affirm that I, under any and all circumstances, will always play my heart out for this team. Moreover, I affirm that I will always put the interests of the team above those of my own. Each and every day, I will put forth the utmost effort to be a solid, hard working person and positive member of the Warrior Hockey Community. Be it at home, in the classroom, on or off the ice, I will strive to be the best person I can be. In doing so, I will grow as a person and excel as a teammate. I believe without reservation, under this code, there is no way my team can fail."