ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Nothing better for a team heading into an 11-day break around Christmas than to have its best performance of the early season. Attleboro did just that on Saturday evening at the New England Sports Village, dominating a former league rival.
The Bombardiers picked up a 3-0 victory against Stoughton/Brockton, but the final score doesn’t do justice to just how much Attleboro controlled the game. The hosts held a 38-4 advantage in shots, not allowing a shot on goal over the final two periods, and seemed to spend ages in the offensive zone.
“This was the best game that we’ve played this year,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “It’s taken a little time. We’ve got some new guys, some new combinations that are going on, but they’ve been getting a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better.”
Attleboro didn’t start the game in control, picking up three penalties in the opening three minutes of the game, including a penalty for too many men on the ice as the first penalty kill was ending, with a bench misconduct added on top. Despite being shorthanded, Attleboro had the first chance when Ryan Morry hit the side of the net on a break and spent the majority of the time in the offensive zone.
Stoughton came close on the power play when Colin Alessi struck the bar from the slot, but it took six minutes before either team recorded an actual shot on target. Within seconds of each other, Aidan Dryjowicz set up Morry for a one-timer that was saved and on the other end Kyle Cruickshank forced a save out of Nick Piazza.
With 6:39 left in the first, Attleboro’s pressure paid off with the opening goal. Nate Parker went down the left wing and skated behind the goal. He flipped a pass out in front to Dryjowicz, who was alone in the slot and he hit a one-timer that gave Stoughton goalie Ryan Spano (30 saves) no chance.
Dryjowicz was a constant threat to the Stoughton goal. He got behind the defense with three minutes left in the first, but he slipped at the last step and the puck trickled inches wide of the far post. Owen Dryjowicz nearly added to his brother’s goal with 1:20 left in the period, but his shorthanded effort was kicked aside by Spano.
The Bombardiers had a 12-4 edge in shots after the first and that domination continued into the second, although they couldn’t add to the lead on the scoreboard.
“I’m in the locker room between the first and second periods and I said guys we’re getting chances but we’re not burying the puck,” Homer explained. “As much as we’re playing offensively, we still have defensive responsibilities out there. One bad bounce, one missed shot, and it’s 1-1 and then momentum changes.”
Sean Marshall nearly caught Stoughton in a change with a pinpoint outlet pass to Aidan Dryjowicz who passed it on to Jake Ward, but the chance was stopped. A few minutes later, another great outlet pass from Marshall sprung Owen Dryjowicz, but somehow Spano managed to get the hilt of his stick on the shot to keep it out.
Spano made another impressive stop on a Dryjowicz slap shot, as the shots kept coming for the hosts. Sam Flynn fired a diagonal pass from the right point to Morry at the post but the shot was stopped and then Aidan Diggan watched his follow up effort go over the bar.
Finally, Attleboro got its second goal. With 3:10 left in the period, Austin Blais had his shot stopped and Liam McDonough was in the right place to stuff in the rebound from close range. After doubling the lead, it took only nine seconds for a third to be added. Off the ensuing face-off, Morry raced into the zone and scored an unassisted goal to make it 3-0.
Stoughton failed to put a shot on target in the second and Attleboro extended its edge in shots on goal to 25-4. With the game all but won entering the third, things slowed down and more than eight minutes went by before either team added to its shot total.
Homer said, “I really thought we had more offensive zone time and that meant we didn’t really have a lot of situations where we had to defend. Being in the offensive zone took a lot of pressure off.”
Flynn had a shot from the point turned aside and Kyle Miniati sent the rebound over the bar. Ward and Morry also had chances that Spano saved, before he was replaced by Nathan Petti. A change in goalie didn’t help the Bombardiers, who had a series of chances stopped, notably two in quick succession from Morry.
“I think tonight was all about having the energy and beating them to the puck, hitting the open guy with the pass, all the fundamental things we’ve worked on,” Homer said about his team’s dominating performance.
Attleboro (2-1-1) will be off until New Year’s Day when it opens league play at home against Mansfield.