WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- It was typical of an early season game: missed opportunities, room for improvement, et al.
As No. 18 Weymouth and Natick got the Bay State Conference season underway with a 4-4 tie at Connell Rink, like most ties, there were plenty of things to make either side see the glass half full or empty.
For the Wildcats, coming off a Super 8 season, there's the matter of giving up the game-tying goal inside of a minute remaining in play. Red & Blue senior captain Andrew Newis buried a one-timer off of Mike Pennett's feed to knot the score with 48 seconds to play.
In Natick's perspective, there are the three power-play goals scored that would make any coach happy. But there were also three goals surrendered on turnovers committed either in the neutral zone or in the defensive end, including Sean Murphy's short-handed goal that gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead in the second.
It all went to show that there was a long road ahead for both sides.
"We learn from it because you saw that you make a couple of bad decisions and the puck ends up in the back of the net," Weymouth head coach Matt Cataldo said.
GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS
For a young Weymouth squad, which lost (and not limited to) its top offensive line, top defensive pairing and starting goaltender, the early season will be a particular test.
The Wildcats received solid contributions from some of their key returnees, including Joe Nardone (1 A) and Murphy (1 G, 1 A), along with a player in Shawn Jennette, who they are looking to fill a bigger role this season. Jennette scored two goals within six seconds of the second period to give Weymouth a 2-1 lead.
"It's great having people back from last year's team, but it's more important for those guys to realize that we're a different team," Cataldo said. "They can't be thinking that just because they were a part of that team last year that we're going to get those same results.
"Those guys know what it takes to get to that level, they know the level of competition that we're going to be playing, but they've got to be the leaders on the ice. They have to step it up, everybody does."
Natick head coach Karl Infanger talked postgame about how he's seen his team steadily improve during the last couple of seasons and now holds higher expectations for his group.
"I think we can surprise some people," Infanger said. "I like to think that we can challenge for the Herget title. We've been building for a couple years now and I think when we play a program like Weymouth, and what with Matt Cataldo's done, and show we can skate with them stride for stride, that's something to build on."
Infanger was pleased with the work of his top line of Tim Dunn (1 G, 2 A) Matt Kustra (2 A) and Newis (1 G).
He was also encouraged with the work of backup goaltender Jeff Rausch, who made 32 saves while making the start in place of starter Derek Kwok, who was sidelined with a high ankle injury.
Perhaps the most impressive player on the ice for either side was Natick defenseman Denis Nagle, who set up two of the Red & Blue tallies. The senior blue-liner is a smooth skater, who likes to jump up into the play and isn't afraid to push the pace of play.