GP North hands Pilots first loss of new year

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. - It's never easy playing from behind, but that's exactly where De La Salle Collegiate found itself for much of the afternoon Saturday in its home contest against league foe Grosse Pointe North.

The Norsemen struck first and found a way to keep the Pilots at bay for much of the afternoon during their 5-3 victory. North scored the first goal in each period and was a perfect 3-for-3 on the power play, which proved to be a difference in the game. De La Salle was 0-for-5.

"(Their goals) were off breakdowns on our part," said De La Salle head coach Nick Badder. "I wouldn't say it was like their power play was buzzing, or our penalty-kill struggling, it was more or less breakdowns. They had a breakaway goal, another one came on one of our guys blew an edge and they had a right down Broadway goal. And another came on another breakaway and the guy goes short side. So those are three goals where we had breakdowns. If we can just execute and pay attention to detail, those things aren't going to happen."

Each team scored once in the first period, with North getting on the scoreboard less than six minutes into the game. De La Salle answered five minutes later on a goal by Michael Bucci to tie it at 1-1. 

North opened the second period on a 4-minute power play. Despite killing off 3:37 of that power play, the Pilots surrendered a goal late to fall behind 2-1. But once again, De La Salle answered back - this time just 39 seconds later - on a goal by Nick Twombley. The senior skated up the right side, dragged the puck waiting for a cross-ice pass, before firing it top shelf to even the score.

Grosse Pointe North would score the next two goals to take a 4-2 lead. The first came late in the second period - on the power play - while the second came 1:18 into the third period.

De La Salle would but the lead to 4-3 on Twombley's second goal, but the Pilots could get no closer. North tacked on a late goal.

"They outworked us today. I think we had a decent third (period), kind of controlled the play, but the first two periods, I think we were kind of all over the place and really not competing,"  Badder said. "That's the biggest thing for us right now, is that we're not competing. We're not getting the pucks. We're losing battles all over the ice."

Picking up assists in the game for the Pilots were seniors Larry Lavigne, Thomas Bechtell and Easton Knott, along with juniors Teagan Fuqua and Quinn McIntyre. 

De La Salle (2-10) returns to the ice Wednesday, when it will travel to Hartland to take on the No. 3 (Division 2) ranked Eagles. The Pilots' next home game will be Thursday, when they host Port Huron Northern.

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