Hornets pick up first win of season with 4-2 triumph over Pentucket

Jan 10, 2019 by

Published January 10, 2019

By DANIEL ZIMMERMAN

SAUGUS — At long last, the North Reading Hornets ended a season-long winless skid with a convincing 4-2 victory over Pentucket in a Saturday matinee at Kasabuski.

On the strength of a three goal second period, North Reading pulled away from a stubborn Sachems squad to improve to 1-6 overall and 1-2 in the Cape Ann League. Senior forward Dylan Babcock, who had yet to tally coming in, found a scoring touch with a pair, including the eventual game-winner, while Mark Potter put it out of reach midway through the frame. But perhaps the one goal that set the wheels in motion for the Hornets first win came at the outset of the period when Stephen Robishaw won the draw at center, collected the puck and skated in, beating Pentucket goalie Brady McLung, unassisted.

While difficult to replace the sidelined Joshua Zelikman, the Hornets proved there are others in their midst who can put the puck in the net.

“It’s kind of like that old Patriots adage,” said Coach John Giuliotti, when asked about the newfound scoring production. “It’s about the next man up, whoever that is. Everyone has their injuries and people will be disappointed in losing a guy like Zelikman, who could score an awful lot of goals. But it’s the next man up – who’s going to be that guy? I believe in my players.”

CAPTAIN Mark Potter scored one of NR’s three second-period goals during their 4-2 win over Pentucket on Saturday at Kasabuski. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Days earlier, North Reading squared off against Danvers and nearly emerged with a win in that contest, as well. The spectators on hand at Kasabuski for this nail-biter certainly got their money’s worth.

Along with the Hail Mary pass in football and baseball’s grand slam, there are few plays in sports more dramatic than a penalty shot in hockey.

Late in the second period, Babcock was whistled for a desperation takedown of Danver’s Jared Mscisz, as he barreled headlong into the slot. At the time, it was deemed that Babcock had made the right decision in order to preserve a 1-1 deadlock.

The gathering drew a collective breath as Mscisz circled once, gathered the puck at center ice and skated toward Hornet netminder Cameron Alter, who had already faced 20 Danvers shots with a period still to play. Mscisz choose to go top shelf and Alter, almost routinely, denied the shooter, setting off a chorus of cheering from the North Reading faithful.

Unfortunately, the Hornets suffered a letdown and allowed a power play goal midway through the third that ultimately sealed a 2-1 win for Danvers.

Scoring the North Reading goal was William McCann, his first of the season, with assists from Alex VerColen and Storm Davis.

Facing Pentucket on Saturday, the Hornets dominated in the first period, outshooting the visitors by a wide 12-2 margin. The effort yielded a go-ahead goal at 6:02 when Babcock beat McLung, leveling a heavy shot from a tough angle. VerColen and McCann were credited with helpers.

North Reading peppered McLung with another 16 shots in the second period, putting a trio behind the beleaguered netminder. On the heels of a penalty-free first period, the second was rife with infractions, most to the Sachems.

Pentucket’s Richie Hardy, who currently leads the Cape Ann League in scoring, halved the deficit with a shorthanded goal moments after Robishaw’s individual effort put the Hornets in front, 2-0.

“That goal at the start of the second period, right off the bat, gave us a big lift,” said Giuliotti.

Babcock was soon back with his second of the afternoon, from McCann, to restore the two-goal cushion. With 6:58 left in the second, Mark Potter skated hard toward the net and made it 4-1, redirecting a tricky deflection off the backboards sent in from the point by Matthew Ryan.

“Coach was talking about it at practice and we saw the Bruins do it earlier this week,” said Potter, when asked if it was a designed play. “It was a pass that came off the boards. I saw it and put it right in. I think this was a team effort. Everybody wanted it and the energy and focus was there. We fed off each other today.”

Pentucket’s Hardy added his second in the waning moments to wrap up the scoring.

“We’ve been building up to this moment,” said Giuliotti, who will next host Amesbury Wednesday followed by a trip to face Masconomet on Saturday. “They’re starting to play noticeably better and I feel like we’ve turned a corner. I’ve told them that the North Reading tradition has been established not by the uniform but by the person who is in the uniform. If you’re that person, it’s time to step up. They did that today.”

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