MARLBORO -- The Groton-Dunstable hockey team met their match Saturday when they faced-off with Marlborough at Navin Rink. Panthers' net-minder Ben Wickelman withstood a flurry of Crusaders' shots, making 47 saves as Marlboro toppled Groton-Dunstable 2-1.
Saturday's loss marks the first for first-year head coach Phil Rowley, and the Crusaders first in 31 games. Groton-Dunstable last loss came in the Division 3A title game at the DCU Center on March 14, 2011, when they fell to Holyoke 3-0. Saturday's loss to Marlborough was out of conference, and the Crusaders fall to 7-1-1 on the season, while Marlboro improves to 7-2.
The Crusaders after one period of play clung to a 15-5 shot advantage, but they had nothing to show for it. Groton-Dunstable's persistence paid off at 4:01 of the second period, when defenseman Anthony Resca coaxed a shot past Wickelman from the left face-off circle for a shorthanded goal off a feed from line-mate Connor Maguire. Defensemen have been a valuable asset to the offense this season, accounting for approximately 35 percent of Crusaders' goals.
One thing is certain when you play a physical brand of hockey: you're going to spend some valuable time in the penalty box. Marlborough made the most of a power-play opportunity at 9:45 of the second period when Jake Chiasson corralled a loose puck and scooted it past Jason Robes (18 saves).
The Panthers' offense continued to put the pressure on Groton-Dunstable defensemen as the period waged on.
Groton-Dunstable returns to the road this weekend when they face the Algonquin Tomahawks (4-2-1 as of Wednesday morning) at the North Star Youth Forum in Westboro. The T-Hawks are paced in scoring by Matt Tozeski, who ranks in second place in the Roy Conference with his six goals and four assists. Brad Zadrozny is the Crusaders' leading points-getter, with five goals and three assists.
Saturday marks just the second time in program history that Groton-Dunstable has played the T-Hawks. The last time the two met was on Dec. 26, 2008, at the Gardner Holiday Tournament. The T-Hawks downed Groton-Dunstable 3-1.