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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

U-32’s Lucas Eldred (11) fires a shot on Brattleboro goaltender Nick Perusse as defenseman Evan Perkins (21) moves in to help during the third period of their Jan 27 game at Whitington Rink.


Colonel hockey teams struggle for playoff spots

Withington Rink was hopping on Jan. 27 with a rare doubleheader night for the Brattleboro Colonels varsity hockey teams.

The Colonel girls were finishing up a three-game homestand against the Hartford Hurricanes in the early game, while the Colonel boys were back to face the U-32 Raiders after playing three of their previous four games on the road.

Both teams entered their respective games one win away from qualifying for the playoffs, and both teams ended their nights with losses. The Hartford girls scored a pair of goals in the third period to win, 2-1, while the U-32 boys rolled to a 6-0 victory in the nightcap.

For Colonel girls coach Linda Burke, it was a frustrating finish to what could’ve been a great victory.

“We gave that one away,” Burke said. “In the first period, we were great, but in the second period, not so much. I think we just stopped skating.”

That first period was great for the Colonels as they played with energy and kept blasting away at the Hartford goal. They only had one goal to show for it, however. Emma Rueter took a pass from Hannah Curtis and slipped the puck past Harford goalie Maggie Gilman for a 1-0 lead with 4:17 left in the first.

But, as the old hockey bromide states, the hardest lead to protect is a 1-0 lead. While the Colonels held their own in the second period, they left the door open for a Hartford comeback.

With 9:37 remaining, Hartford’s Amanda Nelson, who had numerous chances throughout, finally broke through to tie the game. The game-winner came about six minutes later when Caitlin Gaudet won control of a faceoff to the right of Colonels goalie Keagan Jameson and dished off to Meghan Boardman for the deciding goal.

Jameson, who played well in the first two periods, was the hard-luck loser. “I’m sure Keagan wishes she had been ready for that faceoff,” said Burke. “We practice that. It shouldn’t have even gotten to that.”

The frustration of losing this game was compounded by a 5-0 loss at Mississquoi last Saturday to drop the Colonel girls to 3-11-2 on the season.

• U-32 won championships in 2012 and 2013 and lost in the Division II finals to Stowe in 2015. A perennial power in Division II hockey, Colonel boys coach Eric Libardoni needed something different to slow down the deeper and more talented Raiders.

In the scoreless first period, the Colonels played a neutral zone trap, which held the Raiders to six shots. Unfortunately, the trap — which involves keeping a team’s five skaters in the space between the blue lines to limit offensive chances by an opponent —was effective at stopping U-32, it came at the expense of the Colonels’ offense.

The Colonels started pressing on offense, but it was U-32 that broke through with goals. Colby Brochu scored first with 8:52 left, assisted by Griffin O’Neill, who then scored a goal of his own with 5:26 remaining for a 2-0 lead after two periods.

Everything fell apart in the final period. Lucas Eldred got the first of his two goals just 41 seconds into the third. Ryan Andreoletti then scored twice in the span of 18 seconds midway through the period. Eldred then completed U-32’s scoring with 3:47 remaining.

The Raiders outshot Brattleboro, 37-9. “They are the best team in the league,” said Libardoni. “They are fast, they moved the puck well and they skated well. That’s why they win so many games.”

That fifth win also eluded the Colonel boys again last Saturday as they lost to Hartford, 2-0. Adam Parker and Kyle Weeks each had a goal for the hosts as goalie Richie Morrill made 11 saves for the 9-6 Hurricanes. Nick Perusse had 24 saves for the 4-11 Colonels, and only surrendered one of the two goals — the other was an empty netter.

Boys’ basketball

• Bellows Falls has been in a tailspin, losing six games in a row. On Jan. 28, Twin Valley completed a season sweep of the Terriers with a 55-44 win at Holland Gymnasium.

Despite not having the services of their top scorer, Brett Swanson, the Wildcats got plenty of offensive help from the rest of the team. Justin Hicks and Baylee Crawford led the way with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Between the two of them, they connected on five three-pointers. DJ Lazelle added 12 points.

“We had a lot of guys playing out of position,” said Wildcats coach Chris Brown. “We ended up going 10 deep in our rotation, and that was good for giving everyone a chance to play significant minutes when it mattered.”

The game was not nearly as close as the final score. Both teams had a hard time getting untracked on offense, but Hicks got hot in the second quarter and scored 10 points as Twin Valley took at 24-17 lead at the half.

Crawford, Hicks, and Lazelle scored 19 points between them in the third quarter and the Wildcats pulled away to a 45-28 lead heading into the fourth.

“That’s what really hurt us,” said BF coach Ryan Stoodley. “We came out flat in the third.”

BF’s Shane Clark scored eight of his team-high 17 points in the final quarter to make the final outcome a little more respectable.

It was the fifth win in a a row for the 11-5 Wildcats, who now have a firm grasp on the No. 6 spot in Division III.

Two days later, the Terriers fell to Fall Mountain, 58-46. Fall Mountain got things started with a 21-3 run in the first quarter, and the Terriers never recovered. BF ended the week at 5-10 and are ranked 13th in Division II.

• Mount Anthony used a 9-1 run in the final three minutes of the first half to take control of a close game and ultimately defeat Brattleboro, 63-50, in Bennington on Jan. 28.

MAU’s Jonas Parker led all scorers with 22 points; he also pulled down 10 rebounds. Tyler Champagne also showed some pop for the Patriots with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.

Eli Lombardi scored 17 of his team-high 19 points for the Colonels. Dylan DeJordy added 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Colonels, who beat Woodstock earlier in the week, 73-58. Lombardi and DeJordy were huge in that game too, scoring 28 and 15 points, respectively.

Brattleboro got back on track with a 59-41 win at home last Saturday against Drury. They finished the week at 9-7, ranked eighth in Division I.

• Leland & Gray is starting to find its groove, as the Rebels won twice on the road last week to extend their winning streak to four.

After beating Bellows Falls, 62-48, on Jan. 25, the Rebels beat Green Mountain, 48-39, last Friday in Chester. Good defense by the Rebels disrupted the Chieftains’ offense as Leland & Gray led 31-12 at the half. The Rebels are now 6-9.

Girls’ basketball

• Brattleboro center Gabby Carpenter is fast becoming an inside force for the Colonels. She scored 21 points and played shutdown defense on Burr & Burton star Hannah Nicholson as the Colonels cruised to a 66-51 win on Jan. 28 at the BUHS gym.

Guard Devin Millerick also had a monster game, with 21 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. Collectively, the Colonels had a great night at the free throw line, making 22 of their 28 shots, including a 17-for-18 stretch in the first half. The Colonels ended the week at 4-10.

• Bellows Falls got 18 points from Hannah Kelley as the Terriers defeated Green Mountain on Jan. 25. On Jan. 28, Fall Mountain beat BF, 48-31. It was the sixth win in a row for the Wildcats, who went on a 23-0 run to start the game. BF fell to 4-10.

• Mount St. Joseph stayed undefeated in Division IV with a 46-29 win over Twin Valley last Friday in Whitingham. Twin Valley committed 31 turnovers and trailed 16-5 after one quarter.

Kirra Courchesne and Tayler Courchesne led the Wildcats with 11 and eight points, respectively, as Twin Valley fell to 7-7.

• Leland & Gray also had trouble with MSJ, as the Mounties rolled to a 59-18 win in Rutland on Jan. 26.

Spaghetti dinner benefit at Elks

• A spaghetti dinner to benefit the Brattleboro boys’ ice hockey team will be held at the Brattleboro Elks on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m.

BUHS players will be the servers, and desserts will be provided by the hockey parents. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children under 12. Tickets will be sold in advance and at the door. There will also be take-out available.

A raffle will be drawn during the dinner. Tickets can be purchased in advance. You may choose which prizes you would like to win. To get your advance dinner and/or raffle tickets, contact Sherryl Libardoni at slibardoni@wsesu.org.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #342 (Wednesday, February 3, 2016). This story appeared on page D4.

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