SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The end of the first period told the story. Wahconah skated off the ice towards their dressing room looking like a team thoroughly dejected, dazed and beaten.
Not even the Warriors could have expected the blitzkrieg they endured during the first period when North Middlesex scored twice in the opening minute and added three more markers before the frame came to close en route to a 12-0 blowout in the Division 3A state final played at MassMutual Center Thursday night.
It was the team's 11th straight victory on the season.
The state crown marks the third for the Patriots. They won championships as a Division 3 program in 1995 and 1998.
Not in a million years did I think we would come out 12-0," said senior defenseman P.J. Dupre. "I thought it would be a 2-1 game right to the end. We just came out on fire and they couldn't keep up with us. Scoring two goals in the first minute of a game is certainly a crushing feeling for the other team. We weren't going to stop from there because we knew that team came back from a three-goal deficit in the Western Mass. final against Chicopee."
Any drama in this one disappeared early. Dan McNamara, a senior forward, led North Middlesex (19-3-2) with four goals and an assist. It was the first four goal game of his career.
"This feels good," McNamara said. "Especially for all of the seniors who have worked very hard the last four years to attain this. It's been a long journey. We got dropped down a division which kind of helped us a little bit and I feel we have improved a lot since then. Tonight we wanted to establish our fore-check early and set the tone for the rest of the game. That's been the best part of our game all year."
The offensive explosion began just 19 seconds into this contest after Ryan McCarthy lit the lamp with a shot from the right circle that caromed off the shaft of Wahconah senior starting goalie Stedman Roger, over his right shoulder and across the goal line. Just 20 seconds later, McNamara bagged his first, pushing a rebound underneath a sprawled out Stedman.
The Patriots increased the lead to 3-0 at 2:21. P.J. Dupre unleashed a shot from the right circle that bounced off of Steadman's chest and then ricochet off of a streaking Brian Walter from the left slot. Things only worsened for the Warriors (16-7-1) soon after. Devin Blanchard ripped a shot into the back of net at 4:10 to end Steadman's evening, replaced by sophomore Nico Romano. But even with the chance in net, the results remained the same.
Dylan Connor gained control of a rebound out front and backhanded a shot over Romano's right shoulder at 10:32.to make it a five-goal affair. As the final minutes ticked off the clock to finally close out the frame, that would prove to be the only saving grace for Wahconah by this point. The Warriors had won their last 13 contest coming in.
Yet it is hard to fathom a championship game being so one-sided but the Patriots proved otherwise. Any chance for the Warriors (playing in its first state hockey championship) to shake off the disastrous first period and try and regroup would prove futile. The Patriots came out continued their offensive mockery in the second period. McNamara found the back of the net twice within a span of 30 seconds to make it a 7-0 advantage. He would add his fourth score at 5:38 of the third.
Less than two minutes later, Mike Carson scored North Middlesex's eight goal with a blast from the right perimeter. Through 30 minutes, the Patriots held a distinctive 26-6 shots on goal advantage.
Down by so many, Wahconah never mustered any kind of serviceable threat inside the Patriots zone. They were to busy chasing down the North Middlesex forwards who were sprinting with the puck down the other end of the ice.
Besides McNamara tallying in the fourth in the third, McCarthy scored another as did Connor. Donnie Frederick finished things off with a late score. The Patriots finished with 38 shots to the Warriors' 14.
"I didn't expect this,'' North Middlesex head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I saw Wahconah last week in a game that was incredible in which they were down 6-3 going into the third period and came back to win it. They really have a good team but our strength in the corners was really the difference because we were able to win battles out of the corners.
“Hats off to Wahconah for a fantastic season. When you lose I know you don't want to hear anything but they had a great season. Tonight they just ran into a team that was hot and have been that way for a while now."