The Lincoln High School hockey team is off to a 5-0 start to the season after new head coach Dylan Narodowy took over the reigns. His team showed how well they're coached tonight, with good puck movement and being ready to capitalize on chances when they were given them. As for the Northmen, they started the season 3-0 but have now fallen to a 3-3 record after the loss this evening.
The game started out with both teams struggling to score for nearly the entire first period, but then Carter Tillson put one home for the Lions with 2:05 remaining in the opening period. Jack Fiske and Ethan Smith assisted on the goal. That was all for the scoring in the opening period, as Lincoln went into the break with a 1-0 advantage after one.
The second period was a different story, as the Lions got right to work. Chase Hall netted one for Lincoln about 2 minutes and a half into the period, assisted by Nathan Turcotte. Turcotte is the captain for the Lions and his talent was on display all night. He showed great puck control and vision of the ice. He squandered a couple scoring chances by missing the net, but nonetheless showed he is someone to watch when attending Lincoln hockey games.
It didn't take long for LHS to get back onto the board, as just a minute later Michael DeStefano put another biscuit in the oven for his team when the Northmen failed to get their goalie his stick after he dropped it. This one was assisted by Adamo Alfieri and Jack Fiske (Fiske's second of the game). Northmen coach Ben Shatraw was not pleased one bit, immediately calling a timeout and getting his team huddled around him.
It seemed to work, because 3 minutes later North Smithfield scored their first goal of the game. Kayden Artuc took advantage of a juicy rebound that came from a shot by Nate Gravel and the Northmen made it a 3-1 game. That wrapped up the scoring in the second period, as the Lions went to the locker room up 2 goals heading into the third.
When asked between periods what his team needed to do to get back into the game, Coach Shatraw responded "We have to play hard. We have to win the one on one battles. Our biggest problem right now is that we are letting them beat us to pucks. That's an issue on my end. Coming out of the timeout we had some more momentum, but we have to get gritty. We'll go downstairs and see what happens next."
The Northmen weren't able to execute on their coach's suggestions for improvement, as the Lions put another goal on the board a little over 6 minutes into the final period. This one was netted by Carter Tillson again, his second of the game assisted by freshman Nick Pelosi and Domino Costa. The score was now 4-1, and North Smithfield's back was against the wall.
With 5:11 remaining in the game, Gianluca Albanese put a power play goal in the back of the net for NS and made this one a 4-2 game. His goal was assisted by Nate Gravel (his second of the game) and Alex Pickering. Just like that, this one was a game again.
With 2:56 remaining, North Smithfield's Colin Dorgin was called for a roughing penalty, and Lincoln went on the power play. Derrick Wood took full advantage of the Northmen miscue, hammering home a power play goal of his own assisted by Jaden Bourski and Chase Hall. That was the nail in the coffin, as Lincoln finished with a 5-2 victory.
This was a tough loss for the Northmen, falling to a 3-3 record and losing their 6th straight game if you count tournament play. They got off to such a hot start but in the last 2 weeks it's been tough sledding for this NS program. Coach Ben Shatraw knows his guys have it in them to turn it around, but time is ticking.
"My message to the team is maybe if they stop playing the way they want to play, and play the way that I want to play, then we're going to start winning games. That's how we win games. You play in the system, you work hard, you win the battles."
When asked what the number one thing he wants to see his team improve at, Shatraw's face lit up with frustration.
"Effort. Our effort is just not good enough in all areas on the ice. Especially our back check and our play in the defensive zone. We turn pucks over, make fat rink turns, and don't stop and start. Honestly, most of our problems right now are effort based. That's all it is."
As for Lincoln, head coach Dylan Narodowy is pleased with his team's start to the season.
"Their drive to compete, this group wants to win. They love the sport and there is so much passion for the game. It is a team that wants to come to practices and games everyday and get better. The guys have bought in and they want to succeed, they want to play in big games. That's really what drives them" coach Narodowy said when asked what the driving force has been to his team's 5-0 start.
Another thing Narodowy mentioned was how important the leadership has been for his team.
"Leadership is big. The senior class has lead the way for the younger group. It hasn't been perfect but with every game the older guys see how their attitudes and energy set the tone for this team and their have been massive improvements. At the end of the day the seniors take a ton of pride in the program. The want to pass on the important qualities and values of this team to the next guys. They really have done a great job."
The Lincoln Lions play St. Raphael Academy next on Friday at 3:30 PM. They'll aim to keep this train moving, and from what they showed tonight, opposing teams need to be aware.