RANDOLPH – Although the spark didn’t arrive until a little more than midway through the third period, the Mashpee-Monomoy boys hockey team made sure to capitalize on the moment when it finally came.
The Monarchs co-op team shook off a slow start Friday afternoon to pull away for a 3-0 victory over Cardinal Spellman at Joseph J. Zapustas Arena after scoring three goals in the final six minutes and 24 seconds of play.
Wyatt Archibald, a Monomoy junior from Harwich, scored two goals and August Hand, a Monomoy senior defenseman also from Harwich, added another to help the team improve to 3-4 with the nonleague victory.
“I’m glad that we got the win,” Mashpee-Monomoy coach Chris Peterson said. “We haven’t played since a week and a half ago and we really haven’t played many games this month — this is only our third game in January. I don’t know if it was that or if it was the long bus ride, but they really didn’t seem like they wanted to play until we finally got that goal around the six-minute mark in the third period.
“Then they decided, ‘Oh, we’re going to play now.’”
Although it took the Monarchs’ offense a while to find the back of the net, the team’s goaltender, Dom Tsoukalas, didn’t have much of a chance to ease into the game. The junior netminder from Monomoy was tested early and often; he made 12 saves during the opening
period, including two breakaways by the Cardinals.
“He was the reason we did not lose that game,” Peterson said. “They had plenty of great opportunities and we’re lucky that they didn’t convert.”
And what does Tsoukalas think when he sees an opposing skater flying toward him in on breakaway? The Harwich resident has a simple strategy.
“Just stop it,” Tsoukalas said. “I have just one job and that’s to just stop the puck.”
As much as Tsoukalas credited the two breakaway saves in the first period for helping him get into the flow of the game, he said he also embraced the scoreless goalie battle he had with Cardinal Spellman’s Stephen Nardelli and felt motivated to raise his game until the Monarchs’ offense was finally able to light the lamp.
“I love the early action and getting involved with the game early,” Tsoukalas said, “I feel great after getting the first couple saves, and then it was definitely a goalie battle when it was 0-0 like that. You just try to out-do the other guy in those situations.”
Archibald netted the game-winner with a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle with 6:24 remaining. He faced a one-on-one against Cardinal Spellman defenseman Jed Dorsey before firing his blast over the shoulder of Nardelli.
“I think once we got that first one we knew more were going to come,” Archibald said.
His hunch was right. Hand bested Nardelli from close range just 1:06 later to extend the team’s lead to 2-0 before Archibald buried an empty-net goal to put the game away with 1:31 remaining.
Mashpee senior and team captain Jack Stone finished with two assists and Monomoy junior Kyle Richman added a helper during the late-scoring surge.
“We just kind of opened the flood gates and then just kept it rolling,” Hand said of the late rally.
Peterson said he felt the game “should’ve been a lot more lopsided” based on what he saw as a talent advantage for the Monarchs. His players agreed; Archibald attributed the slow start to a couple of different causes.
“It was a really slow start,” Archibald said. “We hadn’t played in a while and had some bus legs and there were midterms today. There were a lot of variables, but we battled through.”
“Battling through” has become a staple of this season for Mashpee-Monomoy. The team experienced shutdowns during January due to COVID-19, an ongoing hurdle the team faces in addition to being challenged during games.
“It’s definitely harder this year than it was last year,” Peterson said. “We just have to keep the kids focused and looking at what’s directly next. We’re not looking at what’s really far ahead, we’re just focusing on what’s next.”
The coach said he’s also hopeful his players will build off of Friday’s victory. There were multiple strong performances that Peterson was thrilled to see.
“August and Dom both played really well. They carried the team for the first two periods,” Peterson said. “Wyatt stepped up and Casey Huse played really well in the third. Jake Giorgio, this was the first game that he played, and he went out there and was consistent for us.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal