FITCHBURG — What better way to open the high school hockey season than with a matchup between two longtime rivals?
On Saturday afternoon, the Leominster and Fitchburg/Monty Tech squads christened the 2022-23 campaign by squaring off at the Wallace Civic Center, with the Red Raiders peppering Blue Devils goalie Logan Wood with 50 shots on net as Fitchburg/Monty Tech opened the season with a solid 4-1 win.
“It’s always nice to win that first one. These guys have worked really hard since tryouts as I’m sure Leominster has too,” said Fitchburg head coach Steve Lowney. “I feel like our guys got what they deserved tonight. They earned this win. I can’t remember the last time we put 50 shots on net in a game.”
Leominster’s effort was strong, but a bit of inexperience made the difference on Saturday.
“We have eight players playing in their first varsity game today and they all got out there and competed today. Our goalie played great, Logan was phenomenal,” said Leominster head coach Frank Mooney. “Our compete level was there today and the guys never stopped working. It was nice to be able to get a goal at the end. There were some positives that we can build off.”
Wood made 46 saves on Saturday while Red Raiders goalie Easton Minardi stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced.
Following a scoreless first period, Fitchburg broke through with the first goal of its season 4:52 into the middle period on marker from Cody Berkio. Assists were credited to Sam Jaramillo and Colin Hines.
The visiting Red Raiders doubled their advantage inside the final minute of the period when Hines lit the lamp with 58 seconds left as Fitchburg skated into the second intermission with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
In the third period, The Red Raiders picked up where they left off as they added two more goals. Kyle Gendron made it 3-0 off assists from Jacob Pruneau and Hunter Couture 6:33 into the frame and Nick Paquet concluded the away team’s scoring when he made it 4-0 with 2:45 left on the clock.
Leominster refused to open the season with a shutout. While on the power play, the Blue Devils potted their first goal of the season when Will Parker beat Minardi with an assist to Deaglan Killay with 2:09 left to make it 4-1.
“Obviously their goalie played really well. He made some big stops but all four of our goals were legit,” said Lowney. “I thought we did a lot of things well today. It was a great way to start the year.”