FALMOUTH — Neither two-time defending state champion Falmouth nor 24-time state champion St. Dominic Academy earned anything to add to their trophy cases Saturday, but the teams each found out plenty about themselves in an early season tilt between a pair of teams favored to reach another title game.
The Saints learned quickly that the Yachtsmen have no intention of letting go of the trophy.
Isac Nordstrom set the pace with a goal just 20 seconds into the contest, Marcus Cady added another in the opening frame and Ryan Bonnvie made 16 saves to preserve the lead as Falmouth fought off St. Dom’s 6-1 in an early-season heavyweight battle.
“We have some holes to fill, and we’re working on that,” Falmouth coach Deron Barton said, “but we played well tonight, we answered the call for sure. That’s a good team, you can’t count them out, ever.”
“They were first to the puck all night long,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “What hurt us in this game was they they wanted to win battles, and they did, and they were first to the puck. They did everything hard, and they finished.”
Nordstrom finished with two goals, and an assist, Chris Camelio added a pair and Cady and Brandon Peters netted one each.
“That’s his role, he knows it, and he’s all over it,” Barton said of Nordstrom. “He’s really come into his own. He’s a four-year guy for me, he’s worked his way up from JV and he’s really become more comfortable with the physical component of the game.”
The Saints succeeded in playing a hard, physical game. From the drop of the puck, St. Dom’s was the more physical team along the boards, and the strategy forced the Yachtsmen into a bevy of penalties through the first two periods.
“We’re in such good shape, we can just take those hits and keep going,” Nordstrom said. “We roll three lines all the time, so we get hit, we get off the ice, and we get back on. They got on us pretty early, but we changed our strategy a little bit, got pucks in deep and gave it right back.”
The Saints’ power play sputtered, finishing 0-for-8.
Nordstrom didn’t waste time putting the home team on top. Left alone in the right corner, Nordstrom faked wrapping around the cage, brought the puck back short side and stuffed it past Welsh for a 1-0 Falmouth lead only 20 seconds into the contest.
“I got a lucky bounce there, I think,” Nordstrom said. “We got a lot of bounces today that went our way.”
Evan Bazinet proved playing with one hand can sometimes be an effective tool later in the first. After a battle in the left corner, Bazinet was falling to his knees, but managed with one hand free to shovel the puck with his blade to the goalmouth. There, Marcus Cady roofed the puck over Welsh high glove to double the Yachtsmen’s lead to 2-0.
The Saints had a few chances to equalize down a goal, and draw within one when down two, the best of which coming on a Dillon Pratt breakaway on a turnover in the Falmouth zone. But Bonnvie held his ground as Pratt tried to deke short side left and the puck fluttered wide off the keeper’s blocker.
The Yachtsmen doubled their lead in the second. Nordstrom collected his second of the contest at 2:28 on a shorthanded breakaway. His first offering hit the pipe, but he foraged for the rebound in the crease behind Welsh and poked it over the line for a 3-0 Falmouth lead.
“I didn’t know if the first one went in, they didn’t say anything, so I had to put it in again to be sure,” Nordstrom said.
Peters added an even-strength goal with 1:06 to play in the middle frame when he poked a rebound past Welsh from the low slot, atoning for three minor penalties he’d taken earlier in the contest.
The Saints snapped Bonnvie’s shutout bid 29 seconds into the third period, though play continued briefly afterward. Dillon Pratt, in his first game back from injury, sniped the top right corner past the Falmouth keeper, but the twine was twisted so tightly the puck snapped back out like it had hit the post. The near official originally waved it off, but at the next stoppage the pair conferred and awarded Pratt the goal.
The Saints continued to pressure afterward, as well, playing their best period of the night.
“The third period’s where we started to respond a little more,” Ouellette said.
Camelio rendered that point moot less than six minutes later, salting the game away with a rebound goal past Welsh with 8:51 to play. He also added the final marker in the final minute to round out the scoring.