The Duxbury boy’s hockey team proved they could skate with Springfield Cathedral for three periods, but they also proved they can’t afford to make any mistakes.
The Dragons had some early jitters when they took the ice at the TD Garden Sunday afternoon for the first game of their best-of-three series, and they were never able to pull ahead in their 4-1 loss.
Springfield controlled the game from the opening face-off, and while goalie Tucker Kelly kept the Dragons in the game, he would have liked to have a shot by Zac Patterson back that gave Cathedral an early lead. Duxbury got an early power play but Patterson stole the puck in the neutral zone, skated inside the Dragon blue line and snapped a shot in on Kelly that the netminder misjudged two minutes and 36 seconds into the game.
“[The first goal] is one Tucker probably wanted to get back, but I think he settled in and played better as the game went along,”said John Blake. “When you play a team with the quality of Springfield, you make a few mistakes and they’re going to make you pay. We’ve got to play almost mistake-free hockey.”
The Dragons continued to struggle in the first period, but came out strong in the second. Senior forward Matt Saia pulled Duxbury even 48 seconds in. Saia poked the puck away as Cathedral tried to clear their zone and snapped off a shot that beat Keith Petruzzelli.
“I forced the turnover along the board and just picked my head up and realized it was one-on-one [with the goalie],” “I just ripped it short-side and luckily it went it” Saia said.
The Dragons continued to get looks at the net in the second, but couldn’t take advantage thanks to some acrobatic saves by Petruzzelli. Kelly matched his Cathedral counterpart save for save until Riley Patterson gave Cathedral a lead they would not relinquish. Patterson fought through his defender and wristed a shot that bounced off Kelly’s arm and into the back of the net with 1:24 left in the game.
“I thought the second period was one of our better periods all year, “Then they got the one late, and that stings a little bit,” Blake said.
Duxbury bombarded the net to start the third period, but again couldn’t get the puck past Petruzzelli. As the clock wound down, the Dragons had to be more aggressive as they pressed for the equalizer, which allowed Cathedral captain Peter Crinella to hang at the blue line for a home run pass. Crinella got one when Cathedral cleared the puck and broke in alone on Kelly for Springfield’s third goal with 2:09 to play. Springfield added an empty-netter at the end to put the game out of reach.
“They’re very, very good on that transition and love to stretch the ice,” Blake said of Crinella’s goal. “I thought for most of the game, we were able to take it away, but at the end down a goal we’ve got to take some chances.”
While the Dragons were disappointed, both Blake and Saia said the team walked away knowing they can defeat Springfield, which they must do Thursday in Lowell to avoid elimination.
“We definitely know winning two against this team is possible,” Blake said. “Being able to play with this team for the full 45 [minutes] gives us a lot of confidence going into Thursday.”