Methuen-Tewksbury slips past Longmeadow-Westfield in OT, 2-1

Longmeadow-Westfield’s Jordan Kowalski crashes the net to score a game-tying goal against Methuen-Tewksbury in the third period of a state Division 1 girls ice hockey preliminary round game at Methuen High School on Wednesday night. The Lancers fell in overtime, 2-1. (BILL DEREN PHOTO)

METHUEN – If the Longmeadow-Westfield high school girls ice hockey team never sees Methuen-Tewksbury again, it’s likely the Lancers won’t lose any sleep over it.
Jessica Driscoll scored with 3:12 remaining in overtime to lift No. 13 Methuen-Tewksbury past 20th seeded Longmeadow-Westfield 2-1 in a state Division 1 tournament preliminary round heartbreaker Wednesday night.
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” Longmeadow High School girls ice hockey head coach Melissa Vandermyn said. “That’s a game that goes into overtime. It’s until the end. We worked hard. Personally I think we outplayed them. Sometimes the puck doesn’t drop your way.”
Driscoll’s game-winner came during an overtime period which saw both teams pepper the opposing goalies, playing 4-on-4 hockey.
The extra frame also featured a controversial offsides call which prevented Longmeadow (8-9-4) from finishing a 2-on-0 breakaway.
“I never like to blame the referees but they were definitely a factor in this game,” coach Vandermyn said, referring to what she felt was a phantom call. “Unfortunately it’s something we can’t control, but it’s something that affects the outcome. The refs … took away a lot of opportunities for us. Missed icing calls, and a blown offsides call on a 2-on-0 is outrageous to me.”
Driscoll proved to be the latest thorn in the side of Longmeadow in more ways than one. In the first period, Driscoll set up a breakaway goal for Lydia Pendleton that put Methuen (11-4-6) out front 1-0 with 6:59 on the first period clock.
Methuen committed a penalty with 4:24 left in the period, opening the door slightly for Longmeadow. The Rangers successfully killed off the penalty though.
Early in the second period, Longmeadow had an offensive surge. Methuen goalie Kaia Hollingsworth stopped every shot though.
Driscoll nearly made it 2-0 in favor of Methuen when she twisted and turned past two Longmeadow defensemen to put the puck on net. Lancers goalie Mackenzie Rae (Westfield) made a spectacular save to prevent the Rangers from going ahead by two goals.
“Every single shot I was just going for,” said Rae, who finished with nearly 30 saves.
Things got a bit feisty as the period progressed with both teams battling for every loose puck. Each pass and each shot took on greater meaning as the minutes ticked away.
Things appeared to look bleaker for Longmeadow as the period moved along. The Lancers committed penalties with 11:11 and 7:05 left in regulation, but managed to kill both off.
Longmeadow lit up the scoreboard and energized their fan base when senior Jordan Kowalski scored an electric game-tying goal. Kowalski sold out to tally a goal off a rebound with just 3:31 left in the game. Madison Gallant and Madison Fox were credited with the assist.
“I was thinking we needed to score,” Kowalski said. “We just crashed the net, and it went in.”
That goal drew the praise of Kowalski’s head coach.
“(That was) grit and determination,” Vandermyn said. “That has nothing to do with skill. It has nothing to do with systems. It has nothing to do with the game of hockey. It has to do with the desire, the want and the drive and you can’t coach that. …It was incredible.”
Momentum appeared to swing.
Longmeadow carried the good vibes into the 4-on-4 overtime period, counter attacking every Methuen shot with one or more of their own. Soon after the Lancers were whistled for the much talked about offside call, Driscoll scooped up a loose puck, skated toward the net and scored a hard-earned shot.
Methuen players stormed the court in celebration.
It was the second straight season and fourth time in five years that Methuen-Tewksbury ousted Longmeadow from the postseason. Last year, the Rangers posted a convincing 9-1 win over the Lancers in the state semifinals.
Methuen-Tewksbury also bounced Longmeadow out of the playoffs in consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017.
“The puck doesn’t always bounce your way,” coach Vandermyn said. “Some day it will.”

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