MARLBOROUGH -- North Middlesex hockey exploded for 11 goals against the winless Assabet Valley Aztecs on the road for an 10-2 victory at the New England Sports Center Saturday afternoon.
Ryan McCarthy and Matthew McRae each had two goals in the Patriots win. North Middlesex flexed their muscle against Assabet and left little question that the superior team was the Patriots Saturday night.
At the start of the season, North Middlesex head coach Michael McCarthy said the Patriots had a lot of depth and young talent. A host of the younger players earned some ice time, and they made the most of their moment.
Patriots' goaltender Blaine Washburne stopped 19 shots, and his teammate, Ben Donohoe, stopped six. Earlier in the week, North Middlesex lost to Grafton, and North Middlesex head coach Mike McCarthy felt his team just didn't string together three strong periods.
"When you work on the small things, you can get the goals," said McCarthy. "When we play against the better teams, the (passing lanes) will still be there. "
Fans were still settling into the bleachers 37 seconds in when P.J. Dupre coaxed a streamlined setup to the stick of Jay Cobleigh, who wound up and screamed the puck from the blue line past the Aztec keeper for the 1-0 lead.
Senior captain Will Faulkner crashed the net and was assisted with a tip-in goal by co-captain Brett Estrella and P.J. Dupre at 9:09 in the first period. After a period of play, North Middlsex owned a 2-0 lead over the host Aztecs.
Assabet wasted no time coming out of the intermission to put a quick goal past Washburne to cut the Patriots' lead in half. The goal came off the stick of Chad Ripley at 1:07, with the assists credited to Ryan Pantridge and Owen Amussen.
Following the Ripley goal, the Patriots inserted the bayonet into the Aztecs hopes for a potential comeback. North Middlesex sounded off six unanswered goals in the second period. Daigan Robichaud slapped the puck high on net, and Matthew McRae picked up his stick and tomahawked it past the Aztec netminder for the 3-1 Patriots lead with 12:58 remaining in the period.
Ryan McCarthy took a nice feed from Robert Haluska and unleashed a wrist shot from the right side that rippled the mesh to extend North Middlesex's lead to 4-1 just 2:34 after the McRae goal.
A little over two minutes later, Justin Estrella went five-hole on a wrist shot from the left side, upping the ante to 5-1. McCarthy put another goal in the back of the net at 11:06 in the second period. Robichaud and Devon Blanchard also lit the lamp in the period to give the Pats a commanding 8-1 lead after two.
McCarthy brought in his third and fourth lines in the third period, and the Patriots managed to knock two more in the back of the net before all was said and done. Haluska and McRae rounded out the scoring for the Patriots. Assabet's Conrad Nelson beat Donohoe with 46 seconds left.
North Middlesex outshot Assabet 51-21. The Patriots now set their sights on the day after Christmas, when they face undefeated Nashoba at 1:20 p.m. at home.