GROTON -- Groton-Dunstable head coach Phil Rowley's Crusaders are riding a five-game winning streak after defeating Auburn, 3-0, Monday night at the Frank "Junie" O'Brien rink.
"We didn't play very well," Rowley said of his team in the win. "It wasn't our offense; it was their (Auburn) lack of skill level. They're a young team. We should've had five or six goals, but I don't want to say our offense dictated that game. It was a tough game to coach. I got all my kids in and everybody got playing time. That's about the only good thing that came out of it."
Groton-Dunstable out-shot the Rockets 31-4 in the game, but Auburn goalkeeper Evan Lockwood (28 saves) made some solid saves between the pipes in the loss.
The Crusaders jumped on the Rockets early in the first period, cycling pucks down low and creating scoring opportunities. Derek March fed the puck to the left wing, where senior captain Connor Maguire curled a wrister over the forearm pad of Lockwood at 5:17 to make it, 1-0. Groton-Dunstable picked up another goal late in the period, when Michael McDonough chipped the puck by Lockwood in traffic to put the Crusaders up 2-0 at the end of one.
The Crusaders third and final goal came at 8:58 of the second period. Pat Keating centered the pass toward the mouth of the goal and James Tardif redirected the puck under the left pad of Lockwood. Late in the second period and into the third period, the Crusaders amassed 10 penalties.
The Rockets had a pair of five-on-three opportunities in the third, but they failed to convert. Auburn center Josh Crombie blasted a shot on freshman goalkeeper Ben McEvoy (4 saves), who made his first career appearance. McEvoy was able to make the glove save. McEvoy faced four shots in his first career appearance, and he stopped all of them.
"In the first minute I was kind of nervous, but I got used to it," McEvoy said. "I made four stops. After making the first save, I calmed down."
"It wasn't pretty," he said of his team's performance. "We have to regroup and have a good practice tomorrow. Some of the penalties we took, I didn't understand. I think the refs thought that we were dominating their kids, and they didn't want to see them getting hurt. But if they are going to put on pads, gloves and helmets, they've got to play with everyone else. No disrespect to the refs, it is hard for them to ref a game like this, too. My kids shouldn't have to slow down because they are waiting for them to call a penalty."
Over the weekend, Groton-Dunstable defeated nonleague foe Bedford, along with knocking off previously unbeaten Shrewsbury last Wednesday. The Crusaders are quickly coming of age with their record at the time of publication sitting at 7-2.
It was ugly, but we'll take it," the coach said. "We did some good things, too. We had some great shots and great looks, but it wasn't because of anything we were doing. The kids are getting undue confidence. I don't want to belittle Auburn. He has his kids working hard, and the bottom line is we didn't have to. I will take the win, but we did have a couple stupid penalties."