By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
FOXBORO, Mass. – Prior to the season, Taunton coach Kris Metea talked about how his team had taken its lumps over the past few years, but that the players who were overwhelmed as eighth graders had now spent a few years in the program and were physically ready to make their mark this season.
On Wednesday night, in the Tigers season opener at the Foxboro Sports Center, Taunton outmuscled and wore down Foxboro for a dominating 7-0 victory.
Taunton coach Kris Metea said, “It was nice to see the boys come out and it was a little bit of a slow start but in the second period they put it together.”
The Pietrzyk brothers combined for four goals and six points for the Tigers. Senior Tyler had two goals and two assists, while sophomore Trevor added a pair of goals, including the final goal with just 2:09 remaining.
“They work hard,” said Metea. “They embody what we believe in the program. They give everything they’ve got and they bleed Tiger hockey. They bring a ton of energy and it shows.”
Tyler Pietrzyk scored the eventual game winner nearly five minutes into the game. On a rush up ice, Will Walsh drew a defenseman and laid a perfect pass into Pietrzyk’s path and he blasted a slap shot over the shoulder of Foxboro goalie John Cronin.
Taunton outshot the Warriors 10-4 and controlled the vast majority of the offensive zone time and puck possession, but could not extend the lead. Still it was only a one-goal lead and Foxboro nearly pulled it back with two breakaways in the final three minutes of the period but Paul Vey’s shot was stopped by Justin Chappell.
Cronin (22 saves) played his part in keeping the Tigers at bay, including a big double save stopping a Walsh breakaway and the rebound. Foxboro coach Jim Genovese said that Cronin will be crucial to keep the Warriors in games this season.
“He’s going to be our backbone this year, especially because we’ve got four freshmen defensemen,” Genovese explained. “He did all the right things in the off-season to improve.”
During the first intermission, the Tigers talked about turning the dominance into goals and that message was received loud and clear. Taunton had nine shots on goal in the opening four minutes of the second period and finally got a second when Zack Albert hit Pietrzyk on a perfect outlet pass and he beat Cronin top shelf.
“We told them as much as they were carrying the play there was another level they could still bring up,” said Metea. “We talked about our ‘D’ getting shots to the net and getting more pressure in front.”
“They amped it up to another level and did everything we asked for adjustments.”
The goal seemed to open the floodgates for the Tigers, who tacked on three more before the end of the period. Defenseman Nick Terry made it 3-0 on the power play when he collected a loose puck by the near side boards and skated across the crease before roofing his shot.
Six minutes later his blue line partner David Perry added another power play goal with a wrist shot through traffic. With 22.6 left in the second, Trevor Pietrzyk knocked in a loose puck after a scramble in front to make it 5-0.
The third period was sluggish from both teams, as the big lead and fatigue set in for both teams. Walsh got his second point of the night when he finished off a nice move with a wrist shot under the bar against Foxboro backup goalie Clay Leopold. Trevor Pietrzyk tacked on his second with a tap in off Jakob Robert’s second assist.
Foxboro had chances to get back into the game, but was 0-7 on the power play including a full 1:30 with a two-man advantage in the third period. The top attacking line of Tim Luciano, Jason Galanti and Vey with Peter Smith added on power plays struggled to put the puck on net.
“We just got to move our feet quicker on the power play and move the puck better,” said Genovese. “We’re forcing passes. We have to slow it down in that aspect, but we have to be moving.”
Metea knows that these penalties could cause problems over the course of the season. “We definitely stressed that penalties will kill us against good teams. We don’t want to give them power play opportunities.”
Taunton has higher expectations this season and this was a solid beginning for the Tigers, as they start what they hope will be a run to the playoffs.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.