By Jeff Hamrick
---- — SALEM – Needing to be helped off the ice early in the second period last week in a game against Pinkerton, Lancer Ryan Griffin was afraid his high school career was over.
But not only did the Londonderry senior return, he played a big role in snapping the Lancers’ mid-season skid.
Griffin assisted on Londonderry’s first goal of the final period before knocking home the match’s final score as the Lancers knocked off archrival and defending Division 1 champion Pinkerton, 4-1, Feb. 6 at the Icenter.
“I felt my knee push in,” Griffin said of the hit that left him lying on the ice for more than 3 minutes. “I couldn’t put any weight on it and it actually broke my blade, so I couldn’t skate … I thought I was done for the season the way I was in immediate pain coming into (the locker room). But (trainer) Megan (Powers) said it was nothing too serious, so I thought I’d get back out there and try it.”
The Lancers snapped a two-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in five outings. With five games remaining, they opened the cross-town action in sixth place. But the Division 1 standings are so compacted, Londonderry was only one game out of fourth and 1 ½ games out of second.
Griffin helped Londonderry’s start, assisting on the match’sfirst goal scored by freshman Nick Donnelly with 8:32 left in the opening period. Pinkerton tied the score when Dominic Corsetto rammed in a two-on-one pass from Devin Moore with 2:54 remaining.
But instead of going into the break tied, Londonderry regained the advantage with only 2.5 seconds left on the first of Eric Coburn’s two goals.
“Pinkerton’s a rivalry, and after losing the last two, we needed this big win here,” Griffin said. “We need to get back into the top four. We haven’t been skating to our potential so just getting out of here with a win was huge for us.”
After a scoreless second period, the Lancers took a two-goal lead on a Coburn power-play goal midway through the fourth. But before Griffin’s power-play clincher with 1:45 left, Londonderry killed off a penalty that began with 5:03 left behind goalie Joe McGrath, who stopped 21 shots.
“Joe’s come into his own this year,” said Londonderry coach Peter Bedford. “He’s very poised and he’s playing with a lot of confidence. … This is real big for the entire team to get back on track. Our confidence is back, and there’s no reason we can’t capitalize on our next five games to end the season.”
Pinkerton continued its up-and-down season with its second loss in four games. In the past two wins, the Astros had scored 16 goals while being held to two in the losses.
“We gave them three of their four goals,” Astro coach Casey Kesselring said. “We don’t have a goaltending issue, we have an execution issue. … It’s the same mistakes over and over. We could’ve been in fifth, but now we might be in ninth before the end of the night.”