For the second straight contest, the Bulldogs lit the lamp five times, this time skating to a 5-0 win over Oliver Ames in both teams’ league opener at the Canton Ice House.
Canton opened the season with a 2-0 win over Medway, but scored just once against Hanover and Shrewsbury and was shutout by Franklin and Needham. However, the lack of goal scoring wasn’t from a lack of chances, but rather just finishing.
That made Canton’s first-period goal that much more important. After Oliver Ames registered the first four shots of the game, the Bulldogs’ offense finally broke through just over the midway point. With its third line on the ice, senior Mike Dadasis provided the pressure on the forecheck, forcing a turnover behind the net before centering a pass right in front. Sophomore Timmy Kelleher was in the perfect spot, tapping in the puck with a one-timer.
“That first goal is so important,” said Canton assistant coach Scott Connolly. “We were pressing a lot the first couple of games. We broke out a little bit last game against Pembroke. But what was great about tonight was it was a team effort. We had four different goal scorers, a couple guys getting their first goal, that’s what it’s all about.”
Canton nearly added to its lead on a couple of occasions but Oliver Ames sophomore goalie Owen Connor (18 saves) came up big for the Tigers. Just over a minute after the opener, Kelleher had a breakaway bid turned aside by Connor, and with just under three minutes to go in the period, Connor blanked a one-timer from Joe Robinson.
Oliver Ames had just over a minute of power play time to begin the second period but couldn’t muster up a shot thanks to Canton’s pressure. Shortly after killing the penalty, the Bulldogs went on the man advantage and cashed in.
Senior defenseman ripped a low pass wide of the net off the boards that bounced perfectly to the other side of the net to a waiting Ryan Nolte for an easy tap-in and a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers had another power play later in the period but once again went without a shot on frame.
“To be honest, we were just overpowered on the puck,” said OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We’re still going the process of supporting each other. We really only have one center, we have two guys trying to learn the position. But Canton was just stronger than us. They wanted it more. We lost a 3-on-1 battle on the power play, that just sums it up right there.
“We were exhausted by having to play defense so much. We were running around way too much in the defensive zone. I don’t mind the time of possession, especially against Canton. We made too many passive mistakes. If you’re going to get beat, do it being aggressive.”
Leading 2-0 heading into the final period, the Bulldogs wasted little time in adding to the lead. Inside the first minute, Robinson extended the lead to three with a goal from in close.
Just over a minute later, Nolte and sophomore Johnny Hagan moved up the ice with a nice passing sequence, resulting in Nolte in along on goal and he finished to make it 4-0.
“In between the second and third period, I just told them that this was their game,” Connolly said. “To see them to show the grit to come through and win the period 3-0, to me that shows what this team is capable of doing. Oliver Ames is a great team, they were all over us in the first period. They were pressuring us but the kids stuck with it in the second and third.”
Canton capped the scoring with 9:14 left in the game. Sophomore Tommy Ghostlaw collected the puck in the corner of his own defensive end, carrying it up to the blue line before finding Kelleher. Kelleher connected with Dadasis, who dumped it back to Ghostlaw who finished for his first goal.
“I think the biggest thing for us is getting that first guy on the forecheck,” Connolly added. “You saw it with the first goal, Michael Dadasis went in and pinned the guy and the puck popped loose, made a great play…it all started with that pressure. When our first guy is forechecking and the next two guys are doing their jobs, that’s when we’re firing on all cylinders.”
Canton boys hockey (1-0 Hockomock, 3-1-3 overall) is scheduled to be back in action on Saturday when it travels to King Philip at 5:20. Oliver Ames (0-1, 2-3-0) is off until next Wednesday when it takes on Stoughton at Asiaf at 7:30.
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