As opening nights go you couldn’t have asked for a more exciting, more satisfying beginning to a season than watching the Brattleboro Colonels boys’ hockey team rally to a 4-3 win over the Burr & Burton Bulldogs on Dec. 3 at Withington Rink.
These two teams don’t like each other, and their games over the past few years have been chippy and penalty-filled. This game was no exception, with 13 total penalties in the game, including a couple of five-minute majors.
But the difference this time was that it was the Bulldogs who lost their cool and committed dumb penalties, while the Colonels played smarter and with more confidence.
This was particularly true in the third period, when the Colonels trailed 3-1 then scored three unanswered goals from Cooper Turner-Renaud, Braxton Lynn, and Jon Curtis in the span of 2:32 to win it.
It capped off a wild 36 hours for Brattleboro coach Eric Libardoni. The morning before this game, he became a father for the first time with the birth of Audrina Mae Libardoni.
“It’s been a good week,” Libardoni said. “I thought we showed a lot of guts, being down 2-0 and then 3-1. I thought the effort was great.”
The strong third period made up for a shaky opening period as Jack Ams and Jay McCoy both beat Brattleboro goalie Nick Perusse for a 2-0 lead for the Bulldogs.
It looked like they would add to that lead when Brattleboro had to kill off a five-minute major penalty in the second period. Instead, Burr & Burton came up empty and Dan McMahon put the Colonels on the board with 2:35 left in the period.
The Colonels kept up the momentum from opening night and made it two wins in a row with a road victory last Saturday.
After Brattleboro’s Evan Perkins and Hartford’s Tyler Hamilton each scored, Lynn scored the game-winning goal with just under four minutes to play as the Colonels spoiled the Hurricanes’ home opener with a 2-1 win. Brattleboro put 26 shots on goal in the comeback victory.
• The Colonel girls had a rough start to their season, losing 9-1 at Rutland on Dec. 3.
Freshman Meghan Hamilton had two goals and a pair of assists to lead the Raiders, while Cassidy Thornton, Molly Pfenning, Kaile Matteson, Courtney Casey, and Elizabeth Wideawake each chipped in a goal and an assist. Emma Mazzariello and Lily Schillinger also scored a goal each.
Axis Balsley scored the lone Brattleboro goal in the second period. Goalie Keagan Jameson had 21 saves for the Colonels.
The scheduled home opener for the Colonels last Saturday night against Stowe was postponed after school officials decided that the roads were too icy to risk a trip south.
• While Stowe didn’t want to send a team south last Saturday, Mount Mansfield made the long, slow trek from Jericho over an ice-slicked Interstate 89 to come to Brattleboro for the Colonels’ opener. The Cougars were rewarded for their efforts with a 66-48 win.
Even though the season has barely begun, Colonels fans will notice that this season’s squad lacks size. Brattleboro was at a decided disadvantage in rebounding at both ends of the court, and had a hard time scoring inside, particularly in the second half.
Mount Mansfield led 16-10 after one quarter, and led by as much as 12 midway through the second. But Dylan DeJordy and Lynden Bunker brought the Colonels back into contention. Three 3-point baskets by DeJordy and 8 points by Bunker in the second quarter helped cut the Cougars’ lead to 33-29 at the half.
Unfortunately, the Colonels didn’t have an answer for senior forward Kyle Adams and Alec Eschholz, who scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the first half, and then scored 12 and 6 points, respectively, in the second half.
Meanwhile, DeJordy was held to a single 3-pointer in the second half, while Bunker scored 8 points in the third quarter and nothing in the fourth. They finished with 14 and 16 points, respectively.
That explains why after the Colonels tied the game at 37-all early in the third quarter they were held to just 11 points after that by the Cougars. When a team only makes three trips to the free-throw line, as the Colonels did, you know they were reluctant to go to the basket.
“We’re undersized, so rebounding will be an issue all season,” Colonels coach Joe Rivers said. “We were also too tentative at times on offense.”
With a front-loaded schedule with lots of games in December, the Colonels will have to figure out a way to win, and fast.
• Coach Chris Brown earned his 100th career victory as Twin Valley opened with a 61-51 win over Rivendell in Orford, N.H., last Friday night.
Skyler Boyd had 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Wildcats. DJ Lazelle scored a team-high 18 points; Sam Molner added 12.
Rivendell was led by Kolin Huntington, who led all scorers with 29 points.
• Twin Valley opened its season with a 51-32 road loss to Rivendell last Friday night. The Wildcats fell behind 31-13 at the half and never caught up.
Tayo Ameden led the victors with 26 points as Rivendell drained five 3-pointers. Teya Johnson had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, while Kirra Courchesne chipped in with 10 points.