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GROTON — Records can be tossed out the window when Groton-Dunstable and North Middlesex square-off on the ice.

The No. 2 Patriots used two goals in rapid succession at the end of the second period to hold off a fiery Crusaders side, 2-1, Wednesday evening at the Frank “Junie” O’Brien rink at the Groton School.

“The way our defense and our goalie is playing, sometimes one goal is enough,” North Middlesex head coach Mike McCarthy said.

“We have done a good job keeping the lead when we had it.

“Both teams fought hard.”

Groton-Dunstable had chances to pot the equalizer in the final two minutes of the game, but the Patriots defense came up big with some gutsy play.

“We have guys doing whatever it takes to win hockey games,” McCarthy said.

“We have kids diving to stop loose pucks before they even make their way to the goalie.”

North Middlesex worked its forecheck to perfection, much to the coach’s delight.

“I think the forechecking is the best part of our game,” McCarthy said.

“When we are doing it well, we are a very tough team to beat. We tend to wear teams down with our puck possession, instead of tape-to-tape passes.”

The two sides skated to a 1-1 draw earlier in the year at the Wallace Civic Center.

Brian Walter netted the go-ahead marker with 50 seconds remaining in the opening frame on a glorious pass from Devon Blanchard.

Blanchard served the puck with precision into the slot, where Walter rammed it home on the power-play to give the Patriots a 1-0 advantage

Blanchard gained possession on the ensuing draw, skated just over the blue line and sent the puck screaming into the far corner of the net.

“I saw the puck coming out to me in the open ice and decided that I needed to take this shot,” Blanchard said.

“Coming into the zone going one-on-two is tough — it’s hard enough going one-on-one to beat a guy, so I decided to just take a screen shot.”

North Middlesex went into the second period with a comfortable 2-0 cushion, but the Crusaders shifted the ice in their favor in the second.

Groton-Dunstable lit-up North Middlesex netminder Marc Frederick in the opening five minutes of period with shot after shot, but the senior stood his ground.

The Crusaders eventually broke through at 7:05 of the second frame on a blue line vapor shot from Brandon Proloux that meandered through traffic.

“We started to get our momentum in the second period, and in the third period we kept it,” Groton-Dunstable head coach Phil Rowley said. “Not being able to finish games has been our nemesis all season long.”

Groton-Dunstable still has an outside chance of punching its ticket to the postseason.

“We control our own fate,” Rowley said. “We need to win out the rest of the season to qualify for districts. This would’ve been a great start for us, but now we don’t have that cushion.”

Frederick and the Patriots held off the Groton-Dunstable desperation onslaught in the third to lock up its 10th win of the season.

The NM senior netminder stopped 26 saves in the victory. The Roy Conference newcomers did not know what to expect after winning the Division 3A title a season-ago, but so far so good for the Patriots.

“We definitely did not think we would be undefeated over halfway through the season,” Blanchard said. “It’s one of those years where we need to keep grinding and grinding. Game-after-game, we are showing up and getting the job done. We now have teams gunning for us after starting the season as an underdog, but by now, that underdog label is starting to wear away.”

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser

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