Crusaders rally past Grafton with six unanswered goals

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GROTON — The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders (12-1-1) defeated the Grafton Indians at Groton School rink on Wednesday afternoon by a score of 7-2. Keying the win for the Crusaders were forwards Brett Sullivan and Mike Noeth, with two goals apiece. Also chipping in with single tallies were forwards Brad Zadrozny, C.J. Kenny and defenseman Allan Haynes.

The first period was one to forget for Groton-Dunstable. Although Noeth got things started with a nice pass from Mike Kerwin from the left circle to the front of the net two and a half minutes into the game gave the Crusaders a 1-0 advantage, Grafton quickly retaliated by scoring two goals.

Grafton tied the game exactly a minute later as Shaun Shannon finished off a two-on-one with Mike Palmer.

The visitors grabbed the lead at 6:08 when Mike Bane scored assisted by Mike Moran and Shannon, and that 2-1 score remained intact over the remainder of the first period.

That proved to be the last hurrah for the visitors as the Crusaders took charge over the final two periods.

At 1:08 of the second period, Sullivan tied the game with his first goal of the game, netting a wrist shot from the slot. Stephen Mullins threaded a pass to set up the goal, while Chase Lundgren also earned an assist.

With seven minutes left to play in the second period, the Indians were threatening to score and take the lead on a breakaway before Tommy Beal broke it up with a poke check to preserve the tie game. Little did Grafton know that would be the closest they would get to getting a shot on goal for the entirety of the second period.

Groton-Dunstable took the lead for good at 10:08 on a beautiful wrist shot from Zadrozny that found the top corner of the net to finish off a two-on-one. The play started with a turnover at center ice, which was recovered by Kenny, who fed the pass to Zadrozny for the goal. At the end of the period, the Crusaders led the Indians 3-2, while keeping the puck in the offensive zone and holding Grafton to zero shots on goal.

The third period would prove to be even more dominant for the Crusaders, who pulled away with four unanswered goals. For a five minute span, the Crusaders camped out in the Indians’ zone, taking 14 shots on goal, but with no success. Finally, Kenny broke through on a five-on-three advantage. Grafton goaltender Kyle Pellerin stopped a hard slap shot by Haynes, but Kenny pounced on the rebound and scored to make it 4-2. Mike Keating picked up an assist.

The Crusaders took advantage of another five-on-three to add to the lead just over a minute later when Sullivan scored after picking up a rebound. Mullins took the initial shot, and Lundgren also assisted.

Just 23 seconds later, Haynes scored a power play goal with a booming slap shot from just inside the blue line, assisted by Sullivan.

Groton-Dunstable turned in an outstanding team defensive effort to support goaltender Dylan Tardif, who made nine saves. The Crusaders young, stingy defense allowed just four shots on goal over the final two periods. Leading the charge were Keating and Haynes, but also Connor Maguire and Anthony Resca. Along with Sullivan and Noeth, Lundgren and Mullins both tallied two assists and the aforementioned Haynes had one goal and one assist.