WALES — Oak Hill lacrosse coach Dan Brannigan’s Wednesday afternoon dress code — black-and-gold hat, with a slightly dated, T-shirt-style Tim Thomas jersey — paid homage to his Stanley Cup playoff alliance.

He might have been sending a subtle message to his team, too.

“I keep telling them they’re like the Bruins,” Brannigan said, “because they wait until the last possible second, and then they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we need to do more of that.'”

The Raiders didn’t exactly snap out of that trend, letting Mt. Blue hang around for most of the first half before exploding to a 15-0 Class B East victory.

Alex Mace, Steven Gilbert and Kyle Flaherty each scored in the final minute of the first half, ending a second-quarter drought and rocketing the Raiders to a 7-0 halftime lead.

Flaherty finished with four goals and four assists for Oak Hill (3-4). Defenseman Chad Merrill moved up to the front line and tallied three goals during running time in the third and fourth quarters.

“We knew we had to have this game. It’s one of those we can’t drop,” Brannigan said. “We need to win every game from here on out, honestly.”

Matty Martin made six saves to secure his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career.

Mt. Blue (1-5) has gone three consecutive games without a goal. The Cougars scored five of their six goals in their lone victory over Lincoln.

“These kids, we’re trying to get them to at least have fun. There’s not enough of that,” Mt. Blue coach John McDonough said. “It’s still the greatest game around.”

The Cougars kept the Raiders off the scoreboard for a stretch of more than 16 minutes in the first half.

Successful checks and ground ball sweeps by Josh Dyke, Casey Taylor, Adam Mealey and Sam Taylor kept Mt. Blue in the contest.

“That’s where my seniors are,” McDonough said of the defense.

Flaherty scored twice in the first four minutes. Gilbert (two goals, two assists) and Mace also got on the board before Oak Hill’s offense went into its lull.

Credit Mt. Blue’s first-year starting goalie, Leo Flannery, as well. One of his 10 saves was a sensational, point-blank denial of Flaherty.

“There were some spots today where we had effort that we normally have with (higher-ranked) teams. These kids, when they’re having fun, they’re so much better,” Brannigan said. “When they start getting frustrated against teams like Maranacook and Gardiner, they start getting down on themselves, thinking too much. These kids are so much better when they just go and play.”

Dual slashing penalties against Mt. Blue helped Oak Hill’s offense get back up to speed.

Flaherty set up Mace’s second goal during the man-up situation. Kaleb Sturtevant then fed Gilbert, and Flaherty made an unassisted strike, all in a 38-second span.

“I told our guys when they went to ‘D’ up, ‘He’s not going to go left on you, so take away his right.’ You’ve got to make those guys uncomfortable,” McDonough said of Flaherty. “That’s what you’ve got to do is push them to their weakness. They either will surprise you by going left-handed or they won’t get the ball off.”

Oak Hill’s junior sniper made it 8-0 in the first minute of the second half before becoming the table-setter.

Sturtevant picked up two scores courtesy of Flaherty in the third quarter. Flaherty also furnished one of Merrill’s goals in the fourth.

“Once we got up eight, I said, ‘Hey, I want to see you feed. We know you can finish. Start feeding,’ and I think he ended up with three or four assists,” Brannigan said.

Matt Gilbert and Connor Elwell also registered goals for the Raiders.

Oak Hill outshot Mt. Blue, 51-12. Martin turned away three shots in the fourth period to guard the zero.

“Ever since I’ve been here, three years, we’ve always had a great ‘D,’ and Matty’s no stranger to tough shots,” Brannigan said. “When they do get the rare tough shot on him, he usually comes up with it.”


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