It was chaos at the end. Despite trailing 3-0 in the early parts of the third period, The Gunnery kept attacking, wave after wave. Despite all these forays forward, the Highlanders just did not have it on the day and fell to visiting Dexter, 4-2.
In the early minutes of the game, Dexter and The Gunnery both looked nervous. Lots of shaky passes and ill-timed plays had the game off to a slow start but this matchup burst into life when a Gunnery defenseman mishandled the puck and Dexter freshman Jay O'Brien, with ample amounts of coolness and composure, slotted it past Trevin Kozlowski to put Dexter up 1-0. For the rest of the period, Dexter was all over the Highlanders and due to some great Dexter forechecking and shaky play by Gunnery in its own zone went up 2-0 when Pat Daly picked off an errant pass and scored his 26th goal of the season. Two big mistakes by The Gunnery, two big Dexter goals.
Despite the fact that the second period ended with the same score, it featured the game's best scoring chances. The Gunnery's two standout offensive players, Cameron Donaldson and Shawn Knowlton, really amped up their games and tested Dexter's Nick Lanni in net. Yet, the big man stood tall and kept The Gunnery off the scoresheet. Late in the second period, just as The Gunnery received the game's first power-play, a silly trip on a Dexter skater gave Dexter a 4v4 and then a 5v4 which would prove costly.
Going into the third period with a 2-0 lead and 1:03 of power-play time, Dexter made sure it put the man-advantage to good use as Ryan Donato, who attracted vast amounts of defensive attention all night, found brother Jack Donato who buried a one-timer just above Kozlowski's diving body. 3-0 Dexter.
However, The Gunn Show had a lot of fight left in them and they got one back on the power-play, when after a drive to the net, the puck trickled across the net and found the stick of Cameron Donaldson who scored on Lanni, the first goal he had given up since February 25th matchup against Holderness. After that goal, The Gunnery continued to attack in numbers, something the team does very well, and after relentless drives to the net, got another goal as Shawn Knowlton fired a shot that went off Lanni's back and cut the Dexter lead to 3-2.
After The Gunnery cut the lead to 1, the offensive pressure subsided as Dexter controlled the last minutes and even after The Gunnery pulled its goalie, it couldn't mount any serious attacks. Then, with only a few seconds on the clock, Matt Brazel won the puck and got it to Pat Daly who scored his 27th goal of the season and sent Dexter to the Elite 8 Championship game.
Tomorrow @ 5 at St. Anselm's College in Manchester, New Hampshire is the NEPSIHA Elite 8 Championship game between #7 Dexter (20-2-5) and #5 Salisbury (20-4-2). It is sure to be a fun affair!