FALL RIVER, Mass. – North Attleboro scored five goals in the first period and never looked back, skating to a dominant 9-0 win over Taunton in the First Round of the MIAA D2 South tournament.
Just four days after the teams met for the first time this season on the last day of the regular season — a 6-1 win for Big Red — the Rocketeers were able to replicate their offense and then some in the first playoff game.
“The guys came out strong,” North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek said. “Our goalie bailed us out of a couple giveaways early on but then we settled down. We had a couple of nice plays, we moved the puck well and we got to the goalie early. We were fortunate to get to it early and take care of business.”
Four minutes into the game, sophomore Hunter Sarro was able to dig the puck out of the corner, attacked the net from the sideboards and roofed a backhand to put #6 North Attleboro up a goal.
Midway through the period, junior Erik Clements helped keep possession in the offensive zone and then found an open Brian Poillucci for a one timer to double the Rocketeers’ lead.
While North held a two goal lead with eight minutes gone in the game, they were nearly on the other end.
Two minutes into the game, freshman goalie Ryan Warren knocked down a shot from Tiger forward Nick Croft and then was somehow able to get his leg in the way of Zack Albert’s rebound to keep the game scoreless. North Attleboro scored two minutes later to take the lead.
With just over eight minutes remaining in the opening period, Croft intercepted a pass and fed senior Tyler Pietrzyk – the league’s leading scorer – right in front but once again, Warren was there for the stop. The Rocketeers doubled their lead less than a minute later.
“It would have been a completely different ball game,” Snizek said when asked how big Warren’s early saves were. “Warren came up big, especially against their top scorer. He’s definitely the backbone of our team and he’s proved it this season.”
The Rocketeers were able to really take care of business in the final three minutes of the period. Poillucci added his second when he finished off a rebound from a shot from Matt Marceau. North then added a power play game as sophomore Andrew Wissler poked home a pass from Sarro. Less than 30 seconds later, Andrew Casson made it 5-0 when he finished off a feed from Paul Baker.
“We’ve switched the lines up some and we’re trying different things,” Snizek said. “Right now it’s clicking. The guys are moving the puck real well so I’m really happy with the outcome.
“They rally around each other. They try to get the best out of each other.”
Any chance of a comeback for Taunton was quickly erased when North Attleboro junior Zach McGowan found the back of the net in the first minute of the second period. McGowan broke through the neutral zone and one stride into the offensive zone, ripped a wrist shot upstairs to make it 6-0.
“It was nice to see,” Snizek said of the early goal in the second. “Then we started to get away from out game a little bit and giving them some life. You can’t give a team like Taunton, that is coached so well, some life.”
After the rest of the second went without a goal, the Rocketeers added three more goals in the final period. Anthony Zammiello netted a shorthanded goal, McGowan added a second and Zammiello capped the scoring with 1:25 to go.
Warren made 17 saves for the shutout.
Taunton wraps up a historic season at 13-10-1. North Attleboro (13-4-4) advances to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will play the winner of #3 Canton and #14 Sandwich, which is being played on Wednesday at Asiaf. Details for the quarterfinal game have yet to be announced.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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