Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
FOXBORO, Mass. – When North Attleboro took its second lead of the game with just 7:25 left in the game, Mansfield head coach Rick Anastos was tempted to take his one timeout.
On the advice of his son — an assistant coach — Anastos held off, instead mixing up his third line to add a little speed and the switch worked as the Hornets got a push in the offensive zone.
But after three minutes lapsed and the Hornets hadn’t tied the game, Anastos called for that timeout with an offensive zone face off coming up.
“I just wanted to regroup, refocus and keep going out at them,” Anastos said. “We wanted to focus on being aggressive and going at them. We lost the face off but we didn’t make it easy for them to get it out.”
The Rocketeers did win the face off but Mansfield was quick to put pressure as senior captain Pat Graham hugged the boards and blocked a clearance. Graham took possession and quickly fired a centering pass and senior Max Hoffman was able to poke his stick and get enough of the puck to find the back of the net as Mansfield and North Attleboro skated to a 2-2 tie.
“We had the lead and blew the lead twice,” North Attleboro said coach Steve Snizek said. “Obviously that’s not the outcome we wanted especially with them scoring so late in the game. But things happen, they capitalized on a mistake of ours and that’s what good teams do.”
The two rivals skated a scoreless period in the first period but a big reason was Rocketeer goalie Ryan Warren, a freshman making his high school debut, and North Attleboro’s defense.
Mansfield had a good chance on its first power play when a centering pass from Shane Doherty found Chad Piotti but North defensemen Paul Baker and Brendan McHugh got their sticks in the way to send the shot wide.
The Hornets first big test of Warren came with just over five minutes to play when Hoffman connected with Piotti for a close chance but Warren closed well and denied the shot. With just 10 seconds left Hoffman got in alone on Warren and tried to shoot it but the freshman got a piece of it to send it high.
““He stepped up very well for us,” Snizek said of Warren. “He looked very poised out there, especially for a freshman in his first game against our biggest rivals. He had a great game, very relaxed and played the puck, which I love to see. I’m very happy with his performance tonight.”
“We’re still trying to figure out the best combinations with the lines,” Anastos said. “I can’t get them to stop shooting but I can’t get them to shoot in the game. We had so many chances in the first period, we had three almost breakaways. I think if we had scored on those it would have been a tough battle for them to climb but they always play non-stop.”
Six minutes into the second period, North Attleboro took its first lead of the game. Sophomore Hunter Sarro used a pin point pass to find junior Connor Ford right in front and his one timer found the back of the net.
The lead didn’t last long though. Just 35 seconds later, the Hornets were able to level the game when junior Matt Farragher pushed one past Warren to make it 1-1 off assists from Mike Arnold and Shane Doherty.
The Rocketeers didn’t convert on a power play just over three minutes into the final period but were able to find the back of the net just two minutes later. Senior Andrew Casson gained possession behind the Mansfield net and wrapped around. With Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti and a defender trying to knock it out, Casson and junior Erik Clements were hacking away trying to force it in. The puck eventually went North’s way and trickled over the line to take a 2-1 lead.
“I was going to call timeout at that point,” Anastos said. “I mixed up my third line and put a kid out there that’s fairly fast and they gave us some momentum in the offensive zone. My assistant said to wait and then at 4:07 he said do it, the times right.
“It seems like when you do that you take a step back and calm them down.”
North Attleboro (0-0-1) will skate against Bishop Feehan on Saturday while Mansfield (0-0-2) will get back on the ice the same day when they host Coyle & Cassidy. Mansfield and North Attleboro will meet again on January 16th, this time in a league game.
“We get the one point from this one and they get a point too but the next game is about a month away and that’s going to be a big one,” Snizek said. “Obviously both teams want that win. They’ll get the bugs out of their system, we’ll get the bus out of ours and it should be a great matchup.”
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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