FITCHBURG — The one-two punch of heart Nathan Helpful and goaltender Ian Keene helped carry host Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley to a key 2-1 win over visiting Littleton/Bromfield on the Wallace Civic Middle Wednesday night.
Helpful scored each Blue Knight targets to place him at six for the season following his hat trick towards Leominster this previous weekend, whereas Keene was like iron between the pipes for Lunenburg, recording 22 saves for the defending Central Mass. Division 3A champions.
As well as, Helpful now sits at 98 profession factors.
The win lifts Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley to 2-0-1 on the season, with a rematch towards Leominster slated for Saturday afternoon right here on the Civic Middle. Wednesday’s triumph additionally marked head coach Eric Brief’s 199th profession victory.
Littleton, coached by former St. Bernard’s and Fitchburg State standout Kevin Lizotte, fell to 0-2 and can tackle North Middlesex Regional right here Monday afternoon.
Lunenburg had the sting early on this battle of finesse vs. energy, because the Knights opened with a lot of tries on Tigers goalie Aidan LeDuc (27 saves), however the hosts simply couldn’t get the blade on the rebound.
“Each goaltenders performed actually, rather well,” Lizotte mentioned. “We had some actually good alternatives, and we did a great job of retaining (Lunenburg) to the skin within the first interval. I assumed we had some actually good probabilities towards the top of the sport; (Keene) saved pucks out.
“We’re a staff that’s not going to attain a ton of targets, much like final yr; we’ll be defensive-minded first, and we actually preach two-way hockey. We simply need to discover a option to put some pucks within the internet, which can come.”
However with Kyle Tracey placing Littleton up 1-nil on a pleasant wrister from the highest of the slot glove aspect, the Tigers labored on flipping the script by making use of stress on Keene, together with a shot from the purpose — and thru site visitors — that Keene kicked apart.
“The aim was a terrific shot by (Tracey),” Brief mentioned. “Ian undoubtedly held us in tonight. (Littleton) had a number of high quality probabilities, particularly on the finish. He was stable.
“We knew it was going to be a tricky evening; we have been a little bit skinny tonight, we shortened the bench to get via it. We dug deep and held on.”
Helpful pulled Lunenburg degree simply over 5 minutes later, as Tristen Gallant received a scrum on the dot and poked the puck unfastened. Helpful grabbed it and skated up the left, tucked in via the slot and beat LeDuc via the five-hole to make it a 1-1 recreation.
It stayed that manner via the top of the primary half.
Ten minutes into the second, Helpful struck once more.
This time it got here off a face off, the place he grabbed the unfastened puck and skated up the right-hand aspect and squeezed the puck in on the brief aspect.
“We mentioned earlier than the sport, Littleton is a younger staff, they’ve a number of power they usually work exhausting,” Brief mentioned. “We simply needed to play good defensive hockey, and children like Nathan would step up and put pucks within the internet.”
Littleton had a lot of probabilities to equalize within the final 4 minutes, however Keene obtained low and thwarted the Tigers, together with a neat strive at level clean vary by Derek Peterson from Aaron King.
“Loads of our pictures have been in good scoring areas,” Lizotte defined. “We have been a lot improved in transition and scoring areas.”