DOVER — With underclassmen making up the majority of his roster, York High School boys hockey coach Jim Powers figured there’d be an adjustment period to start the season. Giving up a total 18 goals in pair of losses to open up the season was glaring evidence of that.
At least for a second straight game, the Wildcats have figured out a winning formula.
York senior forward Dalton McCann scored 40 seconds into Thursday night’s game, and the Class B Wildcats were on their way to a convincing 8-1 victory over Class A Marshwood/Traip/Noble Sanford in Southern Maine action at the Dover Ice Arena. McCann also finished with three assists, while classmate Andrew Bertolini added two goals and two assists.
York (2-2) was coming off Saturday’s 6-3 victory over Yarmouth, after beginning the season with losses to Greely (8-4) and South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (10-5).
“We’ve been playing some good hockey offensively, but we’ve had to work on some things defensively," Powers said. "We’ve got a lot of young players and we’re still trying to figure out who we are. I thought our top line came out fast and set the pace in the first period, burying the puck. They kept the pace of the play in the offensive zone pretty good.”
Bertolini and Aidan Drew assisted on McCann’s goal to open the game, and Bertolini scored his first goal midway through the first period on assists from McCann and Jake Nelson. The top line connected again two more times in the period, as Nelson and Bertolin beat KnightHawks’ goalie Ethan Hammond (36 saves) for a 4-0 York lead heading into the second.
“We have a young team this year, so it’s nice to see some things start clicking,” McCann said. “Some of the younger guys are getting experience now; a lot of them never played varsity in high school. We’re feeling more comfortable together on the ice and building a better chemistry.”
It was another slow start for the KnightHawks (1-3), who have been outscored 25-3 in the past three games after opening the season with an 8-1 victory over Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI. Henry Honkonen scored the KnightHawks lone goal with two minutes left in regulation.
“We talked about it before the game how we have to have better start to games. A lot of it is self-inflicted,” KnightHawks coach Eric Royal said. “Part of it is mental and part of it is just executing, but we have be a lot harder to play against. We’re just to easy right now.”
York — who held a 44-14 shots on goal advantage on the night — scored three times in the second period on goals by Max Pickett, Joseph Neal and Marshall Ford. Freshman Jeffrey Ouellette netted his first varsity goal in the third.
“After our first win of the season, we started building some momentum and we took it into this game. We really got fired up and started pounding goals on them,” Bertolini said. “You can see our freshman are starting to click and see the ice better. The defense is getting better, they’re working hard, and they’re allowing us to score more goals.”
York will look to continue its growth on Saturday at Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill/Poland, while the KnightHawks visit Scarborough.
“We have eight freshmen on this team and there is two of them who play regular minutes on defense, so it's just getting used to playing against kids that are three years old, but they can play,” Powers said. “Fore the most part, they’ve picked up a lot of things in a short amount of time.”