Linda Burke wasn’t planning on coaching the Brattleboro varsity girls’ hockey team this season.
However, as was the case last season, work commitments kept Detective Lt. Kraig LaPorte, who is now the commander of the Vermont State Police’s Major Crime Unit, from coaching the girls’ team this season.
So Burke again stepped up to take the reins, along with Linda Strom and Larry Doucette. The leadership continuity has made a difference, as the Colonels have won two of their last four games to improve to 3-6-1 on the season.
The Colonels suffered a 6-0 road loss to U-32 on Dec. 23, but played considerably better at home against Woodstock in a 2-0 loss on Dec. 28.
Defense was the key in the this game, as the Colonels held Woodstock, one of the top teams in Division II, to only 17 shots. With injuries depleting the defensive corps, sophomore forward Axis Balsley Petraska had to switch to defense.
Together with captains Sarah LaPorte and Hannah Curtiss, Petraska helped keep the Wasps from scoring until late in the second period, when winger Audrey Lee got one by goaltender Keegan Jamison with 2:27 left. Freshman center Sadie Kuhn got the other Woodstock goal with 5:39 remaining in the third.
Jamison played a strong game in goal and the Colonels played a penalty-free game as they put 17 shots on Woodstock goaltender Annabelle Lessard.
“We had to sacrifice on offense by playing Axis back, but she and the rest of the defensemen did a fabulous job,” said Burke after the game. “We’re still waiting for the offense to come around.”
It came around big time two days later at Withington Rink, as LaPorte had a hat trick and Jamie Mahoney scored twice in a 9-0 beatdown of North Country.
LaPorte scored a pair of unassisted goals in the first four minutes of the first period, and got her third in the second period. Also scoring in the game were Olivia Stent, Reuter, Petraska, and Natalie Gadowski, who got her first varsity goal.
Jameson made 11 saves in goal to earn the shutout. The Colonels finished the game with a 42-11 advantage in shots, and never allowed North Country to have an opportunity to get back into the game.
The Colonels finished a good week with a 5-2 road win against Hartford last Saturday. Burke said LaPorte was battling the flu, but still managed to score one goal and assist on three others.
“We got stronger in all aspects as the game went on. It was a great effort. I hope the players are as proud of themselves as the coaching staff is of them. They worked hard and got the best result possible,” wrote Burke in an email.
Burke wrote that Mahoney was also playing out of position, moving from wing to center to fill in for other injured players. She responded with a goal and an asssist.
Rueter, Petraska and Kylee Shatrau also scored goals for the Colonels. Chulie Vinton, in her first game back following a back injury, had an assist.
“We started out slow in the first period and Keagan Jameson made a couple of early saves that kept us in the game until we got our legs going in the second,” wrote Burke, who added that LaPorte, Petraska, and Curtiss had another great game on defense and Jameson finished 19 saves.
• After losing their first six games of the season, Brattleboro got into the win column with a 4-2 road victory over St. Johnsbury on Dec. 30.
Declan Lonergan scored a goal in each period, with two of them being set up by Mason Powers and the other assisted by Daniel McMahon and Bradley Fellows.
McMahon scored a shorthanded goal in the third period. Brattleboro goalie Nick Perusse finished with 17 saves.
The Colonels made it two wins in a row last Saturday with a 5-2 victory over Mount Mansfield at Withington Rink to improve to 2-6.
• Twin Valley went 0-2 in the Green Mountain Tournament in Chester during Christmas week, losing to host Green Mountain 48-41 in the first round and then falling to Springfield 53-35 in the consolation game.
The Wildcats again had a problem handling the ball, committing 33 turnovers against the Chieftains. They fared no better against the Cosmos.
Tayler Courchesne, Kendell Howe, Kirra Courchesne, Teya Johnson and Sammy Morris were the leading scorers for the Wildcats against Green Mountain. Howe finished with 16 points and seven rebounds against Springfield. The Wildcats entered the new year with a 3-5 record.
• Leland & Gray ended 2015 with a Dec. 30 road win over Green Mountain, 38-33.
• Brattleboro hopes to end a five-game losing streak in the new year. On Dec. 22, the Colonels fell to Rice, 53-35, at the BUHS gym. On Dec. 30, the Colonels hosted Otter Valley, and lost 32-28.
• After 12 days off, Bellows Falls had a pair of home losses last week. On Dec. 30, they dropped at 28-19 decision to Woodstock. On Jan. 2, Springfield cruised to a 56-35 win over the Terriers. BF is now 2-4.
• Leland & Gray suffered a pair of losses in the Keene State Holiday Tournament right after Christmas at Keene State College.
In the Rebels’ first game on Dec. 26, Joe Minson and Tyler Coppo each scored 13 points to lead the Monadnock Huskies to a 51-44 victory. Bryce Karg scored a game-high 19 points to lead Leland & Gray.
The Rebels then squeaked by Fall Mountain on Dec. 27, 42-39. Karg led the Rebels with 15, while Owen Beattie chipped in 11. Ryan Murdoch led the Wildcats with 18 points, while Kamron Bushway added 10.
The Rebels were then knocked out of the tourney with a 55-51 loss to Hinsdale, N.H., on Dec. 28.
Hinsdale rallied after trailing by a point heading into the fourth quarter to earn the win. Matt Boggio, who was named to the All-Tournament team, and Kyle Rideout each scored 17 to lead the Pacers. Nick Morrow had a game-high 18 for the 2-6 Rebels.
• Dillon Green had 13 points and 10 rebounds as Brattleboro rolled over Otter Valley, 89-25, on Dec. 23 at the BUHS gym.
Eli Lombardi and Dylan DeJordy were the Colonels’ top scorers for the Colonels with 17 and 16 points, respectively, while Santiago Contreras chipped in with 12. Brattleboro took a 22-10 lead after one quarter and were up 39-12 at the half. The Colonels enter the new year with a 3-3 record.
• DJ Lazelle racked up 21 points and 11 rebounds as Twin Valley crushed Black River, 87-29, last Saturday in Ludlow.
Brett Swanson had a team-high 22 points for the Wildcats, while Skyler Boyd and Kyle Murdock each added 11 points. Justin Hicks had eight assists.
The Wildcats improved to 4-4 with the win. Before Christmas, the Wildcats split their two games in the Green Mountain Tournament in Chester. They beat Green Mountain, 45-33, in the first game on Dec. 22, but lost to Mount St. Joseph, 45-33, the following night.
Mount Snow to offer free ski and snowboard lessons
• Living Memorial Park Snow Sports and Mount Snow’s Ski School will offer free ski and snowboard lessons again this year.
The lessons will be held at the Park Hill, which is maintained and operated by Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, a completely volunteer nonprofit organization.
The lessons will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and run for three consecutive Thursday evenings: Jan. 14, 21, and 28, with a possible make up class on Feb. 4.
Please sign in by 5:45 p.m. at the base station. You must have your own equipment and a $5 lift ticket is required if you will be riding the T-bar.
Register online at vtsnowsports.org by Monday of that week’s lesson.