North Middlesex was riding high after defeating league foe, Leominster, 4-1, Saturday afternoon. By early Monday evening, the Patriots were singing a completely different tune after playing to a 3-3 with non-conference foe, Northbridge.
North Middlesex trailed the Rams, 3-1, heading into the second period. A powerplay goal from senior defenseman PJ Dupre and a tip-in by freshman Donnie Frederick, allowed the Patriots to escape with a point in the standings.
"We have been working on our power-play quite a bit," North Middlesex head coach Mike McCarthy said. "It has paid dividends the last few games. We have put in power-play goals -- hopefully we don't have to rely on power-plays to get us back in games. But, it is nice to know that we have a power-play that's working right now."
Northbridge did not put many shots on net in the game, as the Patriots held a 32-18 advantage.
However, the Rams made the most of their opportunities. Less than two minutes into the game, Northbridge second-liner Vladimir Bohmer tickled the back of the cage with a wrist shot that crept under the glove of Patriots' senior goalkeeper Ryan Twomey.
Junior defenseman Tyler Costello was credited with the assist on the goal at 1:53, after his pass connected with Bohmer on the right-wing.
The Patriots defense held its ground after allowing the first tally of the game, while the offense continued to pepper Northbridge senior goalie Kirby Gomez. North Middlesex had a pair of back-to-back chances with 8:35 remaining in the opening frame.
Ryan McCarthy's slapper clanged off the crossbar, while Danny McNamara's poke in attempt was smothered by Gomez. The Patriots held a 10-7 shot advantage after one period, but the Rams were still up, 1-0.
McNamara rekindled the Patriots offensive flame 36 seconds into the second period. McNamara gathered a wrap-around pass from McCarthy in back of the net and swiped the puck past Gomez to trip the Rams' lead to 3-1. Northbridge answered with two goals in a three-minute time-frame. The Rams' first goal of the second period came from sophomore forward Brett Bibeault.
Bibeault corralled a centering pass from the right side by Michael Ferraro and tucked the puck under the blocker of Twomey at 9:18 of the second period. A little over two minutes later, it was Ferraro from Jesse Averka. Averka dished a precise pass to Ferraro, who skated in and lifted the puck over the blocker of Twomey to make it 3-1.
The third period was one of comeback proportions for the Patriots. Back-to-back minors issued to Alex Marquis and Bohmer brought up a five-on-three for North Middlesex. Mike McCarthy called a timeout with 4:37 remaining in regulation, and it helped to motivate the Patriots who trailed by two goals.
North Middlesex had a two-on-one in transition and Dupre settled the pass from Jay Cobleigh and lofted a slicing wrist-shot under the stick of Gomez to shave the defecit to 3-2. 1:40 later, it was the freshman, Frederick, who converted in front of the cage with a poke in to force the draw.
The tie marks the first of the season for the Patriots whose record now sits at 6-2-1.
"We out-shot the opponent on the scoreboard, 32-18," the coach said. "But, it is just one of those things where we almost double them up, and we couldn't put the puck in the net. The goaltender played well on the other side of the ice, and I would expect more out of our goaltending -- especially in the first two period. Other than that, it is a good team effort. When you are down, 3-1, going into the third and come out with a tie, it is pretty positive."