By Sean Sweeney
GROTON — Two goals 45 seconds apart effectively knocked the Fitchburg/Monty Tech ice hockey team out of playoff contention and kept alive the postseason plans of Littleton/Bromfield.
The Red Raiders and Tigers skated to a 3-3 draw at Groton School’s O’Brien Rink.
Littleton/Bromfield is 7-8-2 with three games remaining, and needs four points — two wins, or one win and two draws — in those tilts, including a rematch with these same Red Raiders on Feb. 18.
Fitchburg had jumped out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a pair of Max Beaulac goals 2:17 apart in the middle period, but Littleton/Bromfield managed to beat Raider goalie Garrett Johnson (32 saves) twice in less than a minute to pull level.
Dan Paxton had scored the goal that made it 3-2 Fitchburg as he buried the rebound on a shot in the slot.
Forty-five seconds later, Tiger defenseman Chris Berger clanged a shot off the pipe and in to tie the score at 3-up with more than a period to play.
Yet while there were plenty of opportunities to dent twine in the third period, Johnson and Tiger goalie Ben Canfield (24 saves) stood tall.
Littleton nearly won the game with about 1:40 remaining, as a rebounded shot came to Paxton, but the senior could not get enough of his blade on the puck — even with Johnson slightly out of position — to score the game-winner.
Trailing 1-0 early, L/B pulled level with three ticks remaining in the first, as Danny Angell buried Littleton’s answer a stride from the top of the circle.