MARLBOROUGH – The Hudson Hawks had deja vu.
After an exciting, back-and-forth game against the Blackstone Valley Beavers on Wednesday that ended with an overtime loss, the Hawks found themselves in an eerily similar position less than 72 hours later on Saturday afternoon.
The Hawks and the Agawam Brownies had traded blows all afternoon, and when the match went to overtime, visions of Wednesday’s matchup with Blackstone Valley entered the minds of Hudson players. Would the Hawks be heartbroken once again?
The game was in limbo for three intense minutes of overtime, but after Agawam missed several chances to win the game, Hudson captain Christian Stevens grabbed the loose puck and shoved it into the back of the net. The Hawks would win 4-3.
“That puck came loose and – it was just instinct. I just hit it into the net, and I saw it go right in,” Stevens told the Community Advocate after the game. “Going into OT, we couldn’t let that happen again. Everyone had… that goal-scoring mentality in their mind.”
“I think we learned something from [the Blackstone Valley] game… We were much better in this,” Hudson Head Coach Mike Nanartowich said. “Christian was at the right place at the right time. That’s what your job is sometimes. He was opportunistic, and that’s what we needed out of him.”
Stevens’ game-winning shot wouldn’t have been possible without an early Hudson comeback. The Hawks conceded two first-period goals to the Brownies, giving Agawam a 2-0 lead at New England Sports Center.
But two Hudson goals in the span of two minutes evened the score. Braydan Resendes – assisted by Devin Mortin – scored with four minutes remaining in the first period. Seconds later, Owen Nanartowich – assisted by Tim O’Malley – knotted the score.
“Stay the course. We’re very calm as a coaching staff. We said ‘Hey, let’s push back on them.’ We really didn’t say anything or do anything different. We got down, and the boys decided to step their game up a little bit. Once we got one, [goal number] two came, and we gained some confidence there,” Mike Nanartowich said.
The Hawks took the momentum into the second period, officially grabbing the lead after scoring another goal three minutes into the frame. Hudson’s one-point lead stood for the remainder of the second period.
But Hudson faltered in the third period, and Agawam evened the score at 3-3. The Hawks tried to reclaim the lead and win in regulation – earning several power-play opportunities in the matchup’s hectic final minutes – but couldn’t pull ahead of the Brownies despite outshooting them 37-14 throughout the game.
The match went into overtime, and Stevens scored the go-ahead goal unassisted.
“The players are working really hard,” said Nanartowich, clearly proud of his team. “Like I just said in the locker room to them – it’s all them. I put the plan together, but plans aren’t any good unless there’s execution.”
After the overtime win, the Hawks were riding high.
“Everyone’s into it. Everyone’s there for each other. We’re in a great spot right now going into these last few games,” said Stevens.