FITCHBURG — Just 48 hours before the playoff hostilities were to begin, Matthew McCarthy’s Patriots were skating alongside those same Mountaineers and Crusaders as teammates on the North Stars in the Division 3 CMHOA Central Mass. All-Star Game.
“It was a little different to have this game right before the playoffs,” said McCarthy, a junior. “It’s like our whole playoff run was playing together on the same team.”
That wasn’t the only thing that was different. The game was divided into two 20-minute periods, rather than three 15s and, perhaps most unusual for the players, there was no checking allowed.
“I’m not the biggest hitter in the world anyway but, yeah, it was a change,” said McCarthy. “Everyone was still skating with their heads up, but it was different, not taking any hits or being able to give any.”
As for the game itself, the South Stars broke open a tight game in the second period and skated to a 5-2 win.
Shrewsbury’s Adam Twitchell had a pair of goals to lead the South offense.
Ryan Dodge of Groton-Dunstable had both goals for the North. TJ Melanson of North Middlesex had an assist on one of the goals.
North Middlesex goalie Joe Sheridan played the first period for the North, turning aside 11 of the 13 shots he faced.
Goals by Twitchell and Justin O’Connell of Algonquin gave the South a 2-1 lead at intermission.
Also representing North Middlesex on the North squad were Justin Estrella and Joe O’Neill. posed a bit of a challenge.
The North stayed close on Dodge’s second goal of the game. Melanson got the play started with a beautiful lead pass to Eric Niemoller, who brought the puck into the corner and centered to his G-D teammate, Dodge, who poked it home, making it 3-2.
But any momentum the North had was short-lived. Less than two minutes later, a steal in the offensive zone by Matt Ward of Shrewsbury led to Twitchell’s second goal of the game.
Later, Jake Uhlman of Westboro added an insurance tally to make it 5-2.