ORLEANS – When losing a number of seniors through graduation, a rebuilding year might be expected, but when the Monomoy-Mashpee Monarchs boys ice hockey team faced the Nauset Warriors on Dec. 14, there was little to suggest either team was struggling.
Instead, it was a fast-paced contest at the Charles Moore Arena when the first and hopefully annual Lower Cape Showdown commenced. Part fundraiser to benefit the Lower Cape Coyote Youth Hockey Program and all competition, the game didn't disappoint.
Both teams took to the ice with ferocity in the outing, but it took until the third period for either to score, and it was the Monarchs who found the back of the net first when Lucas Tambolleo, brother Noah watching from the stands, made good on assists from Brant Butcher and Chris Matton at 6:07 in the frame.
Unfortunately for the Monarchs, their 1-0 lead was short-lived as the Warriors responded seconds later with their own goal, scored by Ethan Keeney with help from Pete Murphy and Cam Taylor.
Though both sides had opportunities after the scores, and several times during the first and second periods, each goalkeeper remained a force. In Nauset's net was JT Tulloch, while the Monarch's relied on Dominic Tsoukalas, both of whom did stellar work keeping pucks away from the nets.
“It was a good game,” said Monarchs head coach Chris Peterson. “It was a lot of fun. Fast-paced. I was really excited when we got that goal. I think we just kind of got on a high and just forgot about our defensive line for a second and they capitalized.”
Peterson said the Monarchs' energy and intensity could have come as a surprise to the Nauset squad.
“They're a young team, too, and I think they were a little caught off guard by the pace of play,” Peterson said. “I told the team, 'I want you guys to go out moving your feet and getting to the puck before they do.' Simple hockey.”
Peterson said he was impressed by Tsoukalas in net, Jack Vinitsky and Jack Stone, Matton, and Lucas Garneau.
“The younger kids stepped up and actually joining the play made a difference,” Peterson said.
Nauset head coach Sal Manganaro said he, too, thought it was a great game.
“I said to Chris afterwards that it couldn't have gone any better for both teams,” he said. “I think the fundraiser went very well and the kids enjoyed it. I was really happy that both teams got a point and got their feet wet getting into the season, and away we go.”
Manganaro acknowledged that his team is young, having graduated 12 seniors in 2019, but that he has high hopes for them.
“Overall I liked the effort and the consistent battle,” he said. “I like our game in front of the other team's net, a lot of crowds, rebounds, and opportunities. Their goalie made some saves on some rebound opportunities we had tonight. As long as we keep doing that, keep getting pucks to the net, stay a little more disciplined, and stay out of the box we'll be all right.”
Manganaro said Keeney had a strong game for the Warriors.
“He played really hard all night,” Manganaro said. “Played the body, took some big hits to make a play, which is they key sacrifice of a player, so he really stood out to me tonight, showing his experience and doing a great job for us.”
Next up for the Warriors is a trip to Tony Kent to face D-Y Dec. 21 at 6 p.m., while the Monarchs will face St. John Paul II the same night in Hyannis at 5:30 p.m.