The Rocketeers dominated in terms of attacking zone time, shots on goal and scoring opportunities but Westwood was opportunistic, capitalizing on its chances to snatch a 4-1 win over Big Red.
“I can honestly say I think we were the better team today,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “The score didn’t reflect that, they got the bounces and we didn’t. I thought we carried the play from start to finish. I’m very proud of my guys, I can’t ask for anything more from what they gave me today.”
Though no one knew it yet, the first sequence of the game was an example of how the game would play out. North had a good chance just a minute into the game when Brendan McHugh ripped a shot and Anthony Zammiello had a chance on the rebound but it slid just wide.
And on the other end, in Westwood’s first trip into the attacking zone, a defensive miscue gave the Wolverines a golden chance that Trevor Fahey buried to make it 1-0 just 75 seconds into the game.
North responded well though, finding the equalizer less than two minutes later. Junior Hunter Sarro forced a turnover in the offensive zone and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle to tie the game.
The level score was short lived as the Wolverines pounced on another North defensive miscue just three minutes later. A defenseman slipped with a Westwood skater at his feet, forcing the puck free in the defensive zone. Westwood’s Sam Murphy jumped onto it just before it cleared the blue line and fired one top shelf to make it 2-1.
The momentum completely shifted to Big Red in the middle frame. The Rocketeers peppered Westwood goalie Justin Anderson with 14 shots in the period but couldn’t get one by him.
Drew Wissler had the first chance less than a minute in after blocking a clearance attempt but his wrist shot was gloved down.
North Attleboro went on the power play and Zach McGowan had a chance but his shot was blocked by a defenseman.
With eight minutes to play, Zammiello knocked down a clearance from Westwood and unleashed a shot but his tough angle bid was saved.
The Rocketeers’ first line had a good chance with under four minutes to play as Wissler connected with McGowan, who shoveled along a pass to Erik Clements as they entered the zone. Clements got off a shot but it sailed wide of the target.
“We had a gameplay, we wanted to get on them early and attack, attack attack,” Snizek said “We didn’t want to be afraid to lose. The kids held up their end of the bargain, it was just unfortunate with the outcome. I thought it was by far our best season in my eight years here.”
Before North Attleboro could keep the momentum going in the third period, the Wolverines doubled their lead just three minutes into the final stanza. Defenseman Mark Horsfall tossed a shot from the blue line that Timmy Dalton got a piece of. The puck easily found its away in the net as North goalie Ryan Warren was knocked to the ground.
No penalty was called.
“North Attleboro came out and they flew, they’ve got kids that can really fly,” said Westwood coach Mike Welby. “[McGowan], [Clements], even [Wissler], they put a lot of pressure on us. We were surprised by how things went in the second period. But we were very fortunate to come out there in the third and grab the momentum back. We got a pretty opportunistic third goal and then the fourth goal sealed it.”
The Rocketeers had a couple of chances as time ticked away in the third but couldn’t beat Anderson.
Westwood iced the game when Tom Keith raced up the far boards, made a nice move past a defenseman and was able to tuck his chance in to make it 4-1 with 7:58 to play.
Sarro had a nice chance with five minutes to play but Anderson made the save without giving up a rebound and then with a minute to play, McGowan made a nice move to get in close but had his bid turned aside.
“Their goalie played phenomenal, he gobbled everything up,” Snizek said. “It happens, its unfortunate but it happens. We were snakebitten today. No dirty goal chances, which we try to get. They capitalized on the mistakes and thats what good teams do.”
North Attleboro hockey finished with a 29-22 advantage in shots. The Rocketeers finished the season 14-4-4.
“I’m so proud of my seniors,” Snizek said. “Captains and the rest of the senior class…the leadership this year was unbelievable. It was the best I’ve seen in my tenure. They picked everybody up when anyone was down.”