But in a two minute span, North Attleboro completely changed the game and erased a three goal deficit.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they were able to bounce back with one more goal late in the second period to pick up a 4-3 win over the the Rocketeers in a Davenport division showdown.
“I don’t think I’ve ever coached in a game like that were all of a sudden we were up three and then tied in a blink of an eye,” admitted Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “But that’s North Attleboro, they are dangerous. They shoot the puck harder than any team we’ve faced. Those guys can shoot and they had a couple good shots off and it’s a tie ball game, that’s how explosive they are.”
Canton scored a pair of goals in a dominating first period and added one more early in the third period and looked to be cruising. But midway through the period, the Rocketeers turned things around.
First, Hunter Sarro pounced on a loose puck in the offensive zone, corralling the puck and turning and firing all in one motion. Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs (14 saves) got a piece of the shot but the puck found its way over the line.
Just 42 seconds later, the Rocketeers made things interesting as Jason McNeany centered the puck right in front of goal, allowing a tap in opportunity for Sarro to make it 3-2 with 7:17 to play in the second period.
“No adjustments, we told them we just had to stay with our game,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “We came out flat; our team knew it and [Canton] took advantage. It’s tough to comeback but they showed a lot of character tonight which I’m very proud of. We came up short but there were a lot of positives – some negatives – but I thought the positives outweighed especially just being a man and showing a lot of character.”
Canton was able to respond shortly before the end of the period, a goal that turned out to be the game-winner.
Senior defenseman DJ Trerice weaved his way into the offensive zone and dropped the puck back at the blue line to Bubba McNeice. McNeice played catch with CJ Martin on the blue line before firing the puck towards goal. Junior Charlie O’Connor was able to get his stick on the puck to redirect the puck into the back of the net.
“Not only was it important for the scoreboard, it was important for the bench,” Shuman said. “A lot of guys were getting on each other to pick it up so that was huge. CJ Martin, that was the best game I’ve seen him play in two years. He was outstanding out there defensively, he skated the puck when we needed him to and then it was really nice to see him factor into that goal, he had a great game.”
The third period was mostly even, but neither side registered a serious scoring chance. North Attleboro had a power play opportunity with 2:47 left but couldn’t cash in. Canton was able to keep the pressure in the offensive zone to prevent the Rocketeers from pulling goalie Ryan Warren (28 saves).
Canton opened the scoring just three minutes into the game. After an offensive zone face off, junior Mike Dadasis went into the corner and dug out the puck. He carried it right to he near post and tucked it in for a 1-0 lead.
Tommy Kilduff had a chance for Canton midway through the second period but a diving effort from Vincent Zamiello disrupted the partial breakaway chance. The Bulldogs did breakthrough with just under four minutes to play. Jack Goyetch blocked a clearance just inside the blue line and raced in and found the back of the net while being tripped out in front for a 2-0 lead.
“We played really well in the first period,” Shuman said. “We had some really good scoring opportunities, it was nice to spot ourselves the lead but we left a couple on the board. We played really well in the first and then [North Attleboro] came back and killed that penalty in the second period which was a big momentum shift. The third was back and forth game, I thought they had some really good pressure on us in the third but I thought we played better defensively. The few opportunities they had in the second they buried and they played well in the third but we were able to play tighter defensively and limit the good shots.”
Less than a minute into the second period, Canton added to its lead. With the puck dumped into the offensive zone, freshman John Hagan unleashed a big hit in the corner the forced the puck to pop free. That’s where Kilduff ripped a shot from the slot to make it 3-0.
With the win, Canton moves within a point of clinching its seventh Davenport title. Even with big league title implications on the line, Shuman said his team treated it the same they do every league game.
“We say it all the time that every game is important in the Davenport and in the league,” Shuman said. “It’s cliché but at some point it rings true where every game is a championship game. If you drop any game, your chances of taking the league title are hurt. We treated this game like we did Stoughton, Foxboro and all of the other games. We’re a step closer but we’re not there by any means we have three very tough games left in the league.”