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GROTON — The Groton-Dunstable hockey team dug themselves a hole and nearly climbed out of it, but fell to Fitchburg/Monty Tech 4-2. The Crusaders trailed 2-0 after two periods and scored twice in the final period to draw to within 3-2, but Chris Lawrence iced the game with an insurance goal with just over six minutes left.

“Our play was inconsistent tonight,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Brian Payne. “These kids are good players and they need to believe in themselves. It was nice to see us bounce back tonight with two goals in the third period. The team is in trasition but there is a lot to build on.”

The first period was played mainly in the center of the ice with each team registering four shots on goal. Fitchburg/Monty Tech broke the ice with the lone goal of the period at 3:05 when Cody Conrad took a pass on right wing from Chris Jellison and ripped a perfect shot just inside the right post to make it 1-0.

Fitchburg controlled the second period, holding a decisive 17-5 edge in shots on goal. Groton-Dunstable picked up three early penalties and were forced to play back on their heels. Groton-Dunstable goaltender Dylan Tardif came up big for the Crusaders with some outstanding saves.

Fitchburg/Monty Tech’s Alex Duplessie created offensive chances and had a pair of testing shots stopped by Tardif.

Fitchburg/Monty Tech doubled the lead at 8:15 when Cory Paul picked up a rebound and poked a short shot into the net. Eric Legere and Erick Gaudreau picked up assists on the tally.

After the visitors had 15 out of the first 18 shots on goal in the period, Groton-Dunstable created a pair of quality scoring chances in the final minutes. At 10:30, Chase Lundgren caught up to a lead pass and broke in alone, but his point blank shot was denied by Fitchburg/Monty Tech goaltender Dan Finn.

Less than a minute later, Brad Zadrozny ripped a shot from close range that was turned aside by Finn.

The Crusaders wasted little time in getting on the board in the third period, cutting the lead in half just 25 seconds in when Brett Sullivan took a pass from behind the net and beat Finn with a short shot. Robert Enwright and Keith English picked up assists on the goal.

The visitors padded the lead with a power play goal at 7:26 when Lawrence scored after pouncing on a rebound.

Groton-Dunstable answered back just 23 seconds later to draw to within a goal when Enwight scored, assisted by Sullivan.

Fitchburg/Monty Tech then picked up another power play goal from Lawrence at 8:41to create some breathing room. Finn stopped the final four shots he faced to preserve the lead, the best coming at 11:30 when Sullivan stole the puck and fired a point blank backhander.

Tardif made 26 saves in the game while Finn stopped 16 shots.

“Dylan was solid in goal tonight,” said Payne. “We just played Oakmont and Fitchburg/Monty Tech which are two of the toughest teams on our schedule. We just need to keep working.”

The game was the season opener for Fitchburg/Monty Tech while the Crusaders are now 0-2-1.