Roller-coaster season for Admirals closes in playoff loss

TYNGSBOROUGH, Mass. – In the game of hockey, it takes only a split second to change one’s fortunes.

Sometimes even less than that.

Oyster River’s Liam Spurling scored the tying goal with just two-tenths of a second left on the second period clock, and the No. 9 Bobcats took that momentum into the third period and downed No. 8 Alvirne-Milford, 4-2, in Wednesday night’s Division II prelim at Skate 3 Arena.

“I don’t know what to say,” Alvirne-Milford coach Matt Simpson, who was emotional, hugging both Damien Barahona and Jake Natola before they even got off the ice. “It’s a cardinal sin. You don’t ever let goals in in the last two minutes. … Every shift is critical.”

The Admirals had the lead through most of the first two periods, as Barahona scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway, assisted by Anthony Viola, at 10:37 of the first period.

That 1-0 lead held up until Spurling’s incredible goal that was officially at 14:59.

It was the first of four unanswered OR goals into the third period.

“We were frustrated the second period, and we were out there wondering if we were going to have any offense,” OR coach Peter Harwood, his 9-8-2 team to take on top seed St. Thomas on Saturday morning in the quarters.

“We were about to go to the locker room with our heads down. That goal changed our feeling entirely. It gave us a little momentum going into the third.”

Eric Donovan, who assisted on Spurling’s goal, got the go ahead tally at 1:31 of the third (Oscar Ingelfinger assist), beating Admirals netminder Zach Patridge (16 saves), who split time with Jackson Dowd (two).

Three minutes later, Jack Poitras made it 3-1, assisted by Doug Young and Donovan.

The Bobcats made it a 4-1 game on a John Kell goal at 8:54.

“The game plan was perfect,” Simpson said. “What happened was deflation. We re-set it in between periods, but that quick turnaround hurt.”

The Admirals’ final goal of the season came at 11:26, by Levi Griffin, assisted by Viola, beat Bobcat netminder Colin Clark (23 saves).

So now the Admirals try to steer the ship, in the first year of the co-op, into next season.

“Of course I’m proud of them,” Simpson said. “It’s a good group. We’ll build off of it.”