In a word, ugly.
That’s how Groton-Dunstable boys’ hockey coach Phil Rowley described his Crusaders’ 3-0 victory over the Auburn Rockets Monday night at the Groton School.
Connor Maguire got the scoring started at 5:17 of the first period with a short-ranger wrist shot that got over Auburn goalie Evan Lockwood’s right shoulder. Derek March and Joshua Rabbit had the assists.
Eight minutes and sixteen seconds later, sophomore Mike McDonough extended the Crusader lead by trickling home a second-chance shot that squeaked just over the goal line before the net dislodged. The referees had to have a brief conference, but they upheld the goal, and G-D was up 2-0.
At 6:02 of the second period, J.J. Tardiff won a faceoff in the offensive zone and immediately got it to Patrick Keating, who unloaded a blast that beat Lockwood stick side for the third and final goal of the game.
The final score could have been much more lopsided than it was. For starters, the Crusaders outshot the Rockets 50-9 on the game, including a 22-1 advantage in the first period. Auburn took the first shot of the game 30 seconds in, and didn’t get another shot off until late in the second period during a power play.
Throughout the first and second period, the action took place almost exclusively in the Auburn end. It got so bad for the Rockets that they started playing a forward out toward center ice hoping to spring him for a one-on-one chance off a clearance, but that never came to fruition. In the second period, they were forced to ice the puck just to get a line change, as they were defending the goal on the opposite side of the rink from their bench.
The “ugliness” that Coach Rowley described came in the form of offensive disconnect and penalties. The Crusaders had some trouble connecting on centering passes and two-on-one situations that would have led to easy goals. They were called for eight penalties, including three overlapping penalties in the second period that left them short-handed for three minutes and eight seconds.
“We’re a young team, but we have better skaters, and we should have had five or six goals,” Rowley said. “It was a tough game to coach, but everybody got some good playing time. That was about the only good thing that came out of this game.”
Despite all this, the Crusaders managed their fifth win in a row and improved to 7-2 on the season, while the Rockets fell to 0-9.
Jason Robes started the game in net for the Crusaders and made three saves. Freshman Ben McEvoy took over in the third period for his first action of the season and made six saves.
The Crusaders’ next game is a battle against Westborough Wednesday night at 6:15 p.m. at North Star Arena in Westborough.