ATTLEBORO — The Mansfield High boys’ hockey team is always a tough opponent for every Hockomock League foe, and the Hornets seem to be getting better through the second half of its season.
Junior Dillion Benoit scored a pair of third period goals and sophomore Pat Gormley tallied the first goals of the first and second periods as Mansfield skated to a 7-1 victory over Attleboro High Friday at New England Sports Village.
The Hornets scored pairs of goals in each of the first two periods, while freshman goalie Chris Hormann blanked the Bombardiers in both the first and third periods, making 16 saves overall.
“We got better as the game went along,” Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini said. “We had a couple of mental mistakes here and there, but overall, we played well.”
The Hornets’ physical strength and size resulted in more puck possession and better management of the game, eventually firing in a trio of third period goals.
“We’ve got to be better in a lot of situations,” AHS coach Greg Chamberlain. AHS generated just 11 shots over the first two periods, while affording Mansfield a power play in each of the first two periods. And 29 seconds after AHS went on its third power play chance of the third period, a Bombardier was whistled for a penalty.
The Bombardiers killed off a trio of Hornet manpower advantages, but went scoreless on a trio of man advantage situations in the third period.
Senior Owen Dryjowicz scored the lone goal of the game for AHS, finishing off a breakaway down the right side with a wrist shot inside the right faceoff circle at 12:12 of the second period with Troy Pleau and Isaiah Silva assisting.
The Hornets (4-5) took a 4-0 victory over the Bombardiers (1-6) earlier in the season, that on Feb. 8, the last time that AHS skated onto the ice.
“We weren’t clean on our breakouts,” Balzarini said, even though the Hornets generated 16 first period shots and 12 second period shots at AHS goalie Nick Piazza (31 saves). “They (AHS) blocked a lot of shots in the second and third periods.”
Gormley scored the go-ahead goal for Mansfield at 8:06 of the first period, corralling a loose puck and firing in a low shot through traffic.
Gormley scored his second goal, Mansfield’s third of the game at 3:11 of the second period (with Liam Anastasia and Carter Pierce assisting), a wrist shot from atop the left faceoff circle.
Benoit tallied twice in the third period (at 4:11 from Owen Shea and Pierce; and at 13:09 from Joe Gormley). Benoit’s first goal, on a nifty breakaway down the left side, created a 5-1 Hornet lead. His second goal was a nifty wraparound effort, the Hornets’ seventh tally.
Sophomore Cullen Egan created a two-goal lead for Mansfield in the first period (at 10:48), banging in a drive from the right point from Cam Hussey.
Liam Anastasia created a four goal margin for the Hornets (at 6:44 from Ben Levine) in the second period, a deflection of a drive from the left point. Hussey, a senior defenseman, scored his third goal of the season (from Anastasia and Levine) during a 4-on-4 situation at 12:48 of the third period.
The Bombardiers’ Aidan Diggin nearly out AHS in front on a point blank chance in the first minute of the game, then created a steal and breakaway in the first minute of the first period.
Then facing a three-goal deficit in the second period, Owen Dryjowicz unleashed a wrist shot and a slap shot, while Nate Parker and Sean Marshall followed with a drives from the blue line.
The Bombardiers killed off a Mansfield power play starting in the first minute of the game with five clearances of the puck. Then Aidan Dryjowicz, Colin Flynn and Parker foiled second and third period Hornet man advantages with four clearances in each situation.
But, the Bombardiers were unable to generate a shot on either of their first two power play chances in the third period.
“It’s the same stuff over and over that we have to correct,” Chamberlain added. “We have two games and six periods to get back at it.”
The Bombardiers have had five games postponed due to COVID-19 protocol, the Hornets two, but had enough pauses to wonder if they would ever get back on the ice.
There’s more ice time for both the Hornets and Bombardiers. AHS will meet King Philip Saturday morning at 9:30 in Canton and then meet the Warriors Sunday at 5:30 at the Foxboro Sports Center. Mansfield has a 3:20 faceoff Saturday in Foxboro against Taunton.