FITCHBURG – North Middlesex approached Wednesday night’s state semifinal rematch with Agawam just like any other game – an opportunity to etch two points in the standings.
The Patriots did just that as they dispatched the Brownies, 4-2, Wednesday night at the Wallace Civic Center at Fitchburg State University.
That no nonsense approach is what has kept the Patriots record unblemished in its first four outings. There was a time in recent history when North Middlesex had trouble scoring – that is not the case for the 2015-2016 team. The Patriots are averaging nearly five-goals-per-game.
North Middlesex’s Matthew McCarthy and Nick White put the game out of reach with a pair of early third-period tallies.
“Points are prime,” North Middlesex head coach Mike McCarthy said. “It was not about payback, it was about getting two points. I am sure the kids had a little more juice. This is the first game this season where we finally put a full game together. To put 45 minutes together is nice.”
Patriots goaltender Joey Sheridan stonewalled 16 shots in the game.
“Joey did really well for us,” McCarthy said of his goaltender. “Joey has been very solid for us all season. That second goal he let in was a bullet – sometimes you just have to tip your cap. The kid made a nice shot.”
The Patriots will travel to Agawam next season for a regular season clash. McCarthy noted that the state semifinal was the first time his team played in Western Mass.
North Middlesex travels to East Longmeadow for a Saturday afternoon tilt on Jan. 9 at 12:10 p.m. in a return game from last season.
The Patriots put Agawam on its heels early creating scoring chances on the Brownies’ neutral ice turnovers.
Tyler Riel put the Patriots on the board at 8:32 of the first period with the assists credited to junior forward Donnie Frederick and senior defenseman TJ Melanson.
The Brownies answered the bell just seconds later, when Don Ingham pounced on a trickling puck in the crease and deposited it past Sheridan to equalize at 1-1.
North Middlesex reclaimed the lead on a snipe-shot in the slot from Frederick at 13:50 with the assists credited to Mike Corrado and Riel.
“We are getting scoring from everywhere – which makes us tough to defend,” McCarthy said. “We are stout. We are not getting goals from two kids. This year, it is not that one. Hopefully, it will continue this way.”
With the Patriots nursing a 2-1 lead entering the third period that changed rather quickly. Agawam capitalized on the power play after TJ Melanson was sent off for holding just 10 seconds into the period.
Nine-seconds later, Anthony Passerini snuck one under the glove of Sheridan, who did not have time to react, to make it 2-2.
Matt DeVito and Justin Estrella had assists in the game.
North Middlesex returns to action Monday night at the Wallace Civic Center, when it hosts Marlboro at 6:30 p.m.
“The nice thing about Division 3 for us is that every game is like this,” McCarthy said. “It is close and any team can beat anyone on any given night. I am surprised with some of the results that are coming in. Algonquin, Hudson, Wachusett,Shrewsbury – everyone is a test for us.”
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