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SAUGUS — The power play unit came through for the Saugus boys hockey team as the Sachems earned their first win of the season 4-0 over North Reading Wednesday afternoon at Kasabuski Arena.
Both special teams unit played well for the Sachems, who killed five penalties and moved the puck well on the power play while cashing in on two man advantages in the second period.
I felt like the penalties kept on going back and forth there for a while,” Saugus coach Jeff Natalucci said. “We had been struggling on the power play so far this year so to finally get a couple was nice.
“We made some adjustments and the guys really moved the puck well out there today,” Natalucci added. “The more we continue to do that this season the more confidence it will build for us. Our special teams all around were good today.”
Both teams started the day slow offensively, with not many quality scoring chances coming in the first period. North Reading got on the power play early but the Sachems penalty kill was able to keep the game scoreless into the second period.
Early in the second period both teams traded penalties with the first several minutes consisting of some four-on-four play before a short Saugus power play. The Sachems used the man advantage to keep possession in the North Reading zone even after the Hornets returned to even strength.
With 7:48 to go in the period, Nick Aiken chipped the puck off the boards behind the North Reading net and after a lucky bounce the puck ended up right on the stick of Jason Caron for an easy goal to put the Sachems ahead 1-0.
“It was was a lucky bounce but sometimes you need that,” Natalucci said. “We were starting to pick it up at that point of the game in our forecheck. We’ve been trying to get the guys to just simplify things and we did that. We got a good bounce but then we built some momentum off of it with those power play goals. It was all about simplifying things on the forecheck.”
From there the Saugus offense fed off the momentum with help from two North Reading penalties. Saugus’ Joe Cross made a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone and then Adam Rodrigues slid a cross-ice pass to CJ Graffeo who ripped a low wrist shot that found the back of the net to give the Sachems a 2-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later Saugus got on the board again on another power play chance. This time Nick Alba dished a nice pass to Dante McGrane who deflected the puck straight into the net to extend the Sachems lead to 3-0.
The Sachems started the third period by killing another penalty, before controlling possession for much of the games final minutes. The Hornets pulled their goalkeeper for one final offensive chance in the last minute but Lorenzo Keegan added an empty net goal to seal the Saugus victory.
“Jack Devereaux was great today in net, he made all the saves he needed to make,” Natalucci said. “Overall I’m just proud of the senior core on that power play. They really made some adjustments today and it was good to see. Those are the guys we need to score for us.”
The Sachems (1-1-2) won’t have anytime for rest as they host Melrose Thursday.
“I think this is definitely something we can build off,” Natalucci said. “Finally we went to some tough spots to get some goals tonight, which was great to see.”