GROTON-- On paper Monday night's game was billed as a relatively even matchup, but the Crusaders turned the game into a laugher in the second period.
The Crusaders sent Coughlin Conference foe Nashoba back to Bolton licking their wounds, after an 8-0 drumming Monday night at the Groton School.
Groton-Dunstable had three players tally multi goal games, and enjoyed goal contributions from all four lines. Balance is a term that coaches often look for, but Groton-Dunstable head coach Phil Rowley believes his team has it.
Rowley started his fourth line against Nashoba, and has no qualms about it.
"It had nothing to do with strategy, just equality, " said Rowley. "I wanted them to feel what it was like to start a game. I didn't know what we were running into, and I felt it was a nice thing to do. They can hold their own with anybody."
Penalties mounted for Groton-Dunstable in the first period, as they racked up three interference minors. When teams start hitting, the time spent in the sin bin often increases. The Crusaders didn't let the penalties hinder them and managed to knock one across the goal line in the frame.
Josh Rabbit advanced the puck towards the right face-off circle and uncorked a wrister from the point past Nashoba goaltender Luke Gilchrest at 3:58 of the first period. Groton-Dunstable out-shot the Chieftains 11-5 in the opening period, and took a 1-0 lead into intermission. The momentum started to swing in the direction of the Crusaders in the second period, as C.J. Kenny wasted no time padding the lead.
Kenny was on the receiving end of a tape to tape pass from Rabbit in the slot, and he flicked it glove side to beat Glichrest at 1:08 of the second period, to put the Crusaders out in front 2-0.
Sophomore forward Derek March wasted no time hammering another one home, as he scored with a coordinated flick of the wrist unassisted, just over a minute later to make it 3-0.
Nashoba registered a solid chance midway through the second, when first liner Kevin Gilchrest cannoned a slapper towards Jack Niemoller, who snared it with the trapper with 7:20 remaining in the second period.
Senior captain Bradley Zadrozny invited himself to the scoring party with a power play goal at 7:13. Mike McDonough cranked a slapper from the point off the leg of Gilchrest. Zadrozny crashed the net, and poked the rebound across the line, giving the Crusaders a commanding 4-0 advantage at the second period intermission.
Groton-Dunstable channeled the killer instinct in the third period, and would not allow the Chieftains to establish anything in their offensive end.
The Crusaders continued to light up the back of the net with four more goals in the final period. Kenny added another tally off a feed from Rabbit at 2:28 of the final period. Kenny skated in, accepted a crisp pass from Rabbit and jimmied Gilchrest's water bottle off the top of the net to extend the damage to 5-0.
A little over a minute would elapse before a Bradley Garside attempt on net caromed to the stick of March for a tip-in at 3:21.
Adam Kmetz would get on the board with a shot from the point off a beeline pass from Kenny. Kmetz buried the puck in the far corner of the cage, to make it 7-0 with 7:20 remaining.
Zadrozny capped off the scoring assault with a breakway goal from Kmetz at 9:01.
Groton-Dunstable owned the big-hit battle with an advantage of 12-5. The Crusaders peppered Gilchrest outshooting Nashoba 47-12.
Groton-Dunstable secured their berth in the postseason four games ago, and is finely equipped to make a run come tournament time.
"The kids did well getting the job done in our d-zone," said Rowley. "We're getting goals from everybody on this team. We had two goals from each line, and one from a defender. We don't have one or two guys who scores for us. We're going on all cylinders, and I don't want us to get stagnant."
Groton-Dunstable returns home on Wednesday when they face Leominster at 7 p.m. with a win over the Blue Devils the Crusaders will capture the Roy Conference crown outright.
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