SOUTH DENNIS – If high school hockey games were sudden-death and victories were awarded to the first team that scored, the Monarchs would be well on their way to posting a successful season.
The co-op hockey team featuring boys from Mashpee and Monomoy managed to find the back of the net before its opponents in each of its first two games, though fast starts weren’t enough for the Monarchs to earn victories against Cape and Islands League rivals Sandwich and Dennis-Yarmouth.
The Blue Knights overcame an early deficit and cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Monarchs on Saturday night at Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne. Two days later, Mashpee-Monomoy experienced similar results when D-Y answered the Monarchs’ first-period goal with five unanswered goals in a 5-1 win at Tony Kent Arena in South Dennis.
“We start off strong and then we kind of dwindle from there,” Mashpee-Monomoy coach Chris Peterson said. “I’ve got some young players on the ice that are still trying to figure themselves out and I’ve got players that are leaders now and haven’t figured that part of the game out yet. We’re still working on it.”
Among the bright spots in the first two games was Monarchs (0-2, 0-2 Cape and Islands) goaltender Dom Tsoukalas. Even in defeat, the Monomoy sophomore impressed in goal. He kept Mashpee-Monomoy in Saturday’s game, making big save after big save to keep D-Y’s lead at 3-1 following two periods of play.
In all, Tsoukalas finished with 27 saves against the Dolphins. Although he wishes he could’ve stopped all of the shots that came his way, the underclassman said the results on the scoreboard aren’t reflective of how he’s felt through two games.
“My confidence is through the roof,” Tsoukalas said. “I’m pretty proud of myself, but I’m also proud of these other guys — I’d run through a brick wall for these guys. They kept coming over to make sure I was all right, so I love these guys.”
Monomoy senior Charlie Southworth netted the team’s first goal of the season against Sandwich when he cleaned up a chaotic scrum in front of the Blue Knights’ net to give the Monarchs a 1-0 lead 9:30 into the first period of Saturday’s opener.
The lead didn’t even last a minute, however, as Sandwich seniors Mike Barrasso and Jack Greeley scored within about 15 seconds of each other to put the Blue Knights on top 2-1 about 10:20 into the contest. Sandwich never let up after that, adding three goals in the second period and two more in the third.
On Monday, it was Jack Stone, a junior right wing from Mashpee, who scored first. Stone was positioned at the top of the face-off circle along the boards when he launched the puck toward D-Y’s net. Judging by the Dolphins’ players’ reactions, they were expecting the puck to sail into the corner away from the net.
Instead, the puck snuck into the top shelf of the net to give the visitors an early lead 4:27 into the game. Once again, Mashpee-Monomoy couldn’t maintain it, as D-Y countered with two goals off of face-offs to take a 2-1 advantage into the first intermission.
“That first goal was definitely kind of a freak goal. We just had to rebound from that,” D-Y coach Lew Alberti said of Stone’s goal. “We had a game the other night where that kind of happened to us and we ended up tying, so I think that ended up sinking in a bit. It was good to see us get right back at it and score the next two, that gave our boys some confidence going into the second and third periods.”
Even though the Monarchs are winless through six periods, their coach remains optimistic that his team will find its stride. Part of Peterson’s optimism stems from the fact that Sandwich and D-Y had each played four games prior to meeting Mashpee-Monomoy, which is still working to reach midseason form.
“They’re a real good team anyways, but Sandwich has had multiple games,” Peterson said. “Then D-Y has had multiple games. They have a big group of seniors, so their poise is a little better. We’re just starting to get together and we’re still trying to figure it all out.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org