LYNNFIELD — If you grew up in Lynnfield, chances are you’ve heard the names Jon Gardner, Jason Gardner, and Ryan Sheehan. All three played for the Pioneers in high school and, to this day, remain good friends.
But Wednesday night, they’ll put that friendship on pause for 45 minutes of game time.
Head coach Jon Gardner and associate coach Jason Gardner coach No. 2 Lynnfield, while on the other bench, Ryan Sheehan leads the No. 10 Triton hockey team.
This will be the third encounter between the Gardners and Sheehan this season, with Lynnfield taking the first two. Despite winning by two goals in each game, Jon Gardner said “both games were very close.”
“I know people are going to say it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season,” Jon Gardner said. “The thing is, both teams have a lot to lose and are both under a lot of pressure. Games one and two have nothing to do with game three. It’s the playoffs, it’s March, and whoever plays better under the bright lights is going to advance.”
Sheehan knows it’s going to be a tough game – aka, the usual whenever the rivals meet.
“Ever since I have been coaching at Triton, there have been back-and-forth good games, one-goal games, two-goal games,” Sheehan said. “The last five minutes will decide the game. It has been tightly contested.”
“They’re (Pioneers) hockey nuts,” Sheehan said. “They know what they’re doing, so it’ll be a good game.”
Sheehan grew up watching the Gardners play hockey in Lynnfield. Sheehan was a goalie and “loved watching Jason play since he was a fantastic goalie.” Though they didn’t share the ice initially, after college, they were all on the same men’s league team.
That said, what’s said in one locker room may be said in the other.
“Ryan is a great guy. He coaches his team the right way and probably teaches and preaches the same stuff that I do,” Jon Gardner said.
Both coaches said their teams are beyond excited to get the matchup underway. The game will be at Stoneham Arena with puck-drop scheduled for 8 p.m.
“Everyone is very excited. People know this could be their last game, so what’s not to be excited about?” Sheehan said.
“We’re very excited, but it’s kind of where we expected to be when we set out goals,” Jon Gardner said.