Story by Dan Libon, Photos by Fran Leonard
Sometime during the end of the first and the beginning of the second period, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the King Philip Warriors would put a goal up on the board.
Though they got the chances they needed, KP just couldn’t find a way to get one past the Hornets, dropping a 2-0 decision in a Kelley-Rex Division matchup.
“I thought they played really well. I think they deserved a better fate. We had some opportunities to score,” KP head coach Mark Homer said. “We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities.”
It only took 55 seconds for the Hornets to get on the board when Brendan Murphy quickly scored after a face-off in the King Philip defensive zone for the early 1-0 lead. Evan Kershaw was credited with the assist.
The Warriors came alive late in the first, but couldn’t get anything past Mansfield goalie Rick Shipman. KP continued to pressure the Hornets early in the second period but the Hornets also began to create opportunities.
“I think we kinda came out a little flat that first half of the second period, but after that guys just seemed to step it up,” Hornets head coach Rick Anastos said.
Eric Foley and Steve Folan were able to produce a two on one for the Hornets with eight minutes to play in the second period, but Shawn Denehy was able to break it up for the Warriors.
Not even a minute later, the Hornets got another one on the board when Mike Blackman snuck one past KP goalie Tanner Jensen through the left corner of the net at 7:58 of the second period.
The Warriors had a golden opportunity with to score with 3:44 left in the second when two Mansfield penalties gave the Warriors a four on three that would turn into a five on three 23 seconds later.
Unfortunately for King Philip, the Warriors could not find a way to attack the Mansfield zone. The Hornets even had a chance to score down two men, but couldn’t get the puck past Jensen.
“I thought Brendan Murphy did an outstanding job on that five on three. That’s a tough one to kill off especially when both penalties occurred at the same time,” Anastos said.
Not able to get a shot off during the two-man advantage, the Warriors struggled to set up the offense or get production.
“Unfortunately, there’s an opportunity we didn’t take advantage of,” Homer said.
Shutdown defense became key in the third period when the Warriors’ shots were limited and the Hornets were shooting at will. One of the few Warriors chances came from Chris Boselli, who couldn’t get his slapshot past the glove of Shipman with 7:37 to play.
Adam Blackman almost scored for the Hornets on a one timer but was stoned by Jensen with 5:35 left to play in the game.
The win improves Mansfield’s record to 12-2-2 overall and 7-2-2 against the Hockomock League. King Philip is now 5-10-1 overall and 3-7-0 in league play.
The Warriors will travel to Stoughton on Feb. 10 to make up a game against the Black Knights while Mansfield will travel to Franklin for a Kelley-Rex Divisional showdown Feb. 11.