SAUGUS — Crucial mistakes in the early stages came back to haunt the Saugus boys hockey team in a 4-1 loss to Northeastern Conference opponent Danvers at Kasabuski Rink Saturday evening.
“I thought we just came out soft,” Saugus coach Jeff Natalucci said. “(Danvers) treated the game the way it needed to be treated. Both teams were fighting at the top of the conference, they treated it that way and we didn’t. It was a good opportunity for us, and we came out and I thought we were soft and unfocused today. It just kind of spiraled.”
The Falcons were led by senior Jared Mscisz, who found the back of the net twice. Jack Thibodeau and Cameron DiMeglio each scored once to help Danvers to its fourth consecutive win.
“We have definitely improved as the season has gone on in all three zones,” Falcons coach Steve Baldassare said. “Especially our goaltender (Adam Bridgeo) has been solid from Day One, all the way through. It got a little helter-skelter in the second period but overall I loved the way we came out in the third period and took charge of the game. That’s what we needed.”
An early mistake proved costly for the Sachems in the first period. Thibodeau pressured the Saugus defense on a forecheck and was able to steal the puck in front. The senior then turned and fired a shot past Saugus goalie Jack Devereaux to put the Falcons ahead 1-0.
Two late power plays put the Sachems on the offensive, but a pair of blocked shots helped the Falcons keep their one-goal lead.
With 1:05 left on the power play to start the second period, the Sachems made another costly mistake. A Saugus penalty put the game back at even strength and DiMeglio ripped a slap shot to extend the Falcons lead to 2-0.
After a scrum in the second period, punches were thrown on both sides, and Danvers’ Cooper Adrien and Saugus’ Dante McGrane were ejected. The Sachems had a hard time coming back from McGrane’s early exit.
“It hurt big,” Natalucci said. “(Dante’s) one of our tone setters. Again, it’s just unfocused play. He has to control his emotions. We need him on the ice, not in the locker room. We don’t have the depth to overcome losing guys.”
Adam Rodrigues put the Sachems on the board with 5:50 remaining in the second. Rodrigues used his speed to win a race to a loose puck in the Danvers zone and got just enough to beat Bridgeo, cutting the Falcons lead to 2-1.
That was as close as Saugus would get. Danvers’ special teams made quick work on a penalty kill late in the third period and Mscisz finished a breakaway for a shorthanded goal to put the Falcons ahead 3-1.
“We had a good game plan and right out of the gate it worked,” Baldassare said. “We got away from it a little bit in the middle there, but we got back to it in the third and finished.
“Our special teams have been so good all year,” Baldassare added. “Especially now with the two-minute penalties you have to be good with the special teams. You have to take good angles, you have to have good sticks and that’s why we had that breakaway on that short handed chance.”
The Sachems pulled Devereaux with a faceoff in the Danvers zone and 3:07 remaining in the game for one final chance, but Danvers won the faceoff and Mscisz added an empty netter to seal the win.
Saugus (4-3-3) will look to bounce back Wednesday (7:30) when it hosts Beverly.
“We have to get refocused and come back to work,” Natalucci saif. “I didn’t like our practices the two days leading up to this game it showed. We have to get back to work on Monday and Tuesday and have two good days because Beverly’s going to come in here trying to knock us off. It’s a fight every night in this conference.”
Danvers (5-1-2) is back on the ice Monday (7) in a non-conference game at Woburn.