For Tewksbury High hockey coach Derek Doherty, the recipe for stopping Boston Latin's high-powered offense on Sunday night was simple. Hit 'em early and often, and when they get back up, hit 'em again.
"That's the game plan," Doherty said after his Redmen outmuscled the undefeated Latin Wolfpack and played them to a 1-1 tie at the Breakaway Ice Center. "You know if you play a physical game, guys aren't going to want to touch the puck. And if they don't want to touch the puck, they can't score goals."
Latin, which came into the game with a 5-0 record, had scored 27 goals in its first five games, an average of over five per game. But the Redmen knocked the Wolfpack off the puck time and time again, refusing to let them get their offensive attack organized, and held Latin to just 13 shots in the game.
"That's going to be our game plan all year," Doherty said. "We don't want anybody in our zone. We want to try to take away the puck carrier in the neutral zone before they get into the (attacking) zone. If we don't, we've got to play solid in front of our own net. And we did that for the most part."
Junior forward Patrick Doherty staked Tewksbury to a 1-0 lead with six minutes to play in the second period when he collected a bouncing puck pushed forward by sophomore winger Jack Cash, and broke in alone for his third goal of the season.
Boston Latin tied things up less than two minutes later when leading scorer Conal Lynch set up Greg Perella in front of the Tewksbury net with a pretty pass that Perella slammed home with 4:20 to play in the second.
That would be the only time Latin got anything past TMHS' freshman goaltender Kyle Paquette, who made several outstanding saves in the game.
"He's done a good job for us so far this year," said Doherty of Paquette. "He's kept us in it and given us opportunties to go down the other end and score goals."
Tewksbury did have several strong scoring opportunities in the game, but the Redmen missed the net on numerous occasions and were held to their lowest scoring output of the year.
"We definitely had our chances," Doherty said. "Their goalie was excellent, but we gotta hit the net. You can't score goals if you don't hit the net."
What the Redmen did hit was the opposition, however, to the point that tempers flared several times in the third period.
"We definitely got under Boston Latin's skin tonight," Doherty said. "They were ticked off at our guys and that's OK, we want to do that. We have a tough group of kids and they want to play. They play hard. I think if they come to play like that all the time...we'll win a lot of games."
The tie leaves the Redmen at 5-1-1 overall so far. Tewksbury is now 1-1-1 in Dual County League/Merrimack Valley Conference action.
The only bad news for the Redmen was that junior forward Mike Casey suffered a knee injury during the game and had to be helped off the ice. Casey had recently been moved up to the first line with Derek Petti and Ryan Petti, and had provided a spark to the Tewksbury offense.
"He brought some energy up front and the guys have been playing hard since we moved him up," Doherty said. "He'll see the doctor tomorrow but that would be a big loss."
Tewksbury returns to MVC/DCL action Wednesday night at Billerica.