Photo: Belmont High Senior Ryan Griffin in action.
A good goalie will keep a team in the game. A great goalie will lead it to a championship.
On Wednesday afternoon, March 9, Belmont High senior goaltender and co-capt.Ryan Griffin demonstrated once again the elevated level of first-rate quality and coolness under pressure which is the backbone of Belmont’s season in leading the Marauders’ past Marshfield, 3-1, in the “sweet sixteen” round of the MIAA State Division 1 playoffs.
“Ryan Griffin just stood tall today,” said said Tim Foley, Belmont’s first year head coach after the “home” game played in Woburn [The “Skip,” Belmont’s home rink, was considered too small to accommodate supporters and students from both schools].
“[Ryan] just works hard,” said Foley. “He’s focused. He’s a guy that we know is back there. And he’s a momentum breaker. I’ve been saying this all year; teams come in and try to break him and they haven’t been able to.”
“My defense does a great job of getting guys coming to the net,” Griffin said postgame. “So I knew that if I could just make the first save, they could clear them out.”
The victory sends the 7th-ranked Marauders’ (18-1-3) into the Elite Eight quarterfinals against second-seed Xaverian Brothers High School (18-3-1). The game will take place at New England Sports Village in Attleboro, on Saturday, March 12 at 2 p.m. Only online tickets will be accepted. Tickets can be ordered at gofer.co
The matinee contest started with Belmont’s stellar defense – giving up 25 goals in 22 games – not allowing the motivated, if not as technically adept, Rams to establish a cohesive offense while the Belmont attack, fronted by the first line of senior Matty Rowen and juniors Shay Donahue and Cam Fici, forced Marshfield to focus all its attention on trying to hamper Belmont’s high scoring trio.
While looking dangerous early one, it was only a matter of time before Belmont struck first when Rowen swept a blocked shot past a surprised Brady Quackenbush, Marshfield’s junior goaltender.
By the second 15 minutes, Marshfield upped the tempo in an attempt to out hustle the Marauders which they did with ever greater success. Led by the Rams’ man-of-the-match sophomore Tommy Carroll, Marshfield took the game to the Marauders. By the end of the period, Belmont was finding opening for the counter coming off its defensive scheme. Yet it was Marshfield who nearly found an opening late in the period but Griffen stoned the Rams’ Cam McGettrick who saw his open net attempt blocked away by Belmont’s senior net-minder.
Marshfield took advantage early in the final stanza of an interference call by scoring on the man advantage when a puck ping-ponged off a skate and the post to be knocked in by senior Colleen Doyle to tie it early in the third. With the Marshfield supporters – many wearing yellow safety vests – in high sprits, the Rams began flooding zone with attackers with the promise of taking the lead. But again Griffin was not to be beat from distance or when the scrum packed the crease.
But an unusual outcome from an attempted clearing pass from deep in the Marshfield end would result in the game winner for Belmont. A defender’s lofting shot hit one of the banners hanging over center ice resulting in a face-off in the Rams’ zone. Rowen won the face-off and, bang-bang, Donahue slipped it by Quackenbush from the slot to recapture the lead, 2-1.
“When an opponent gets a face-off in their own zone … we try to make the team pay for that,” said Foley. “We want to make sure we take advantage of every offensive end face-off because we know we have Griffin in the net.”
Soon after the goal, Belmont benefited from a Rams’ roughing call on Fici and the subsequent power play. After the conclusion of the man advantage, Belmont’s defense rose to the occasion. For the remainder of the seven minutes of the game, the Marauders essentially playing pitch and catch with the Rams, intercepting passes and stealing pucks off the sticks and dumping it back into the Marshfield zone.
For the third game running, Belmont faced a team willing to gamble on pulling their goalie. And the Marauders made them pay as Fici sent a long distance volley into the back of the net for the 3-1 final.
“We weren’t playing as well as we have been but they just find a way to win. I don’t know how but we do,” said Foley. “We are looking forward to the game Saturday. We’ll go down there and we’ll compete as hard as we can and well see what end up.”