LYNN — Conor Donovan probably knows better than most how hard it is to play a competitive game against people you know and are close to.
“I don’t think there’s a anyone on that team (Lynn) that I don’t know,” said Donovan, a sophomore who scored the game-winning goal in Friday night’s 3-2 Division 3 North semifinal game against the Lynn Jets.
And that would include his cousins: Sean and Matt Devin.
“We’ve always been close,” said Donovan after the game. “Well, maybe not as close as we used to be .. but we’re close.”
Donovan, who tended to be lost amid the tree-trunk legs of the Lynners he was up against, managed to sneak on Jets goalie Jack Gallant’s doorstep with 6:36 to play in the third period to score the final goal of this see-saw affair.
“Drew (Olivieri) set me up,” said Donovan. “He put the puck right on my stick. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
All Donovan’s goal did was make the pace even more frenetic than it was before. And that was very frantic.
Lynn scored first on Andrew Patrie’s first-period goal, but Swampscott got the next two, one when Brett Benoit — whose older sister Genevieve starred for the St. Mary’s girls hockey team during its run of three straight state titles — made a nice rush up the ice and put one behind Lynn’s Jack Gallant to tie the game early in the second period.
Donovan scored the first of his two to give the Big Blue a 2-1 lead through two periods of play. Showing no quit, Lynn’s Brian Clougherty scored the 100th point of his career (he’s only a junior) on a beautiful shift in front of Johnson. Clougherty’s goal knotted things up at 2-2 in the early stages of the third period.
With the score tied at 2-2 and time winding down in the third period, it was Donovan’s turn again.
“There wasn’t much Jack could have done,” said first-year Lynn coach Mike Roberts. “They took the original shot, and Jack got got it. It went behind the net, and came back out again onto the kid’s stick. He just one-timed it in.”
The best was yet to come. With about a minute to go, Roberts removed Gallant in favor of an extra skater. From that point on, Lynn threw everything but the kitchen sink at Swampscott goalie Dan Johnson, but the tall, rangy goaltender with the bleach blond hair (a Big Blue team-wide tradition) was equal to the task.
“It was barrage of shots,” said Johnson, who stood in the foyer after the game looking as if he was still facing them. “They kept on coming.”