There is always a painful finality to the last game of the postseason, especially when you and your teammates aren’t the ones holding up the trophy.
On March 8, the No. 6 Brattleboro Colonels lost to the No. 7 Missisquoi Thunderbirds, 2-1, in a Division II girls’ ice hockey semifinal at Withington Rink.
But this was a game that transcended the final outcome for the Colonel girls, for I believe that people will be talking about this game for years to come.
They will remember the incredible energy of a packed rink where more than 500 people jammed inside. The Colonels fans made so much noise that, at times, it sounded as loud as an arena many times its size.
They will remember seeing a group of young women play a taut, tense hockey game, as you would expect with a trip to the finals on the line.
It was the kind of game that was meant to be played on International Women’s Day. This was Girl Power in all its glory — the first home semifinal game in the history of Brattleboro girls’ hockey, and it was magnificent to watch.
The first period belonged to the goalies as Brattleboro’s Eliya Petrie and Missisquoi’s Madison Conley turned back all the shots they faced during a fast-paced 15 minutes.
The Thunderbirds turned up the offensive pressure in the second period, especially when a pair of Brattleboro penalties gave the T-Birds a 5-on-3 power play. The Colonels successfully killed it off as the crowd roared their approval when Brattleboro was back at evenstrength.
Missisquoi finally broke through with 6:28 left in the second period when Callie Parks dished a pass to Lora Fresn, who charged the net and beat Petrie with a point-blank blast for a 1-0 lead.
Parks set up the T-Birds’ second goal just 1:57 into the third period. This time, Brianna Parent was the recipient, and Missisquoi seemed to have an insurmountable lead. But the Colonels did not give up. They kept putting shots on Conley, who kept turning them aside.
Time was slipping away, and when the T-Birds got another power play, their fourth of the night, with 2:17 to play, it looked like Brattleboro was dead.
Colonels coach Eugene Frost used a time out to regroup. The fans stomped their feet on the bleachers and banged on the glass while chanting “Let’s go, Colonels!”
And as loud as the rink was at that moment, it was stick-your-head-inside-a-jet-engine loud when Juliana Miskovich scored a short-handed goal on a wraparound with 1:11 to play.
With the crowd in total delirium, the Colonels tried desperately to get the tying goal in the final minute, but Conley turned away three golden chances by Miskovich, Tobin Lonergan, and Juniper DiMatteo-LePape in the final minute.
Missisquoi hung on to win, but Frost said there was nothing for his players to hang their heads about. After all, his team went from a 0-6 start to hosting the first semifinal playoff game in the program’s history.
“We came a long way this season,” Frost said. “These girls are unbelievable. We went from giving up 8 or 10 goals a game and wondering if we were going to be in the playoffs at all, to making it to the semifinals. Nobody expected us to be here.”
It took a huge upset to get the Colonels into the semis. Lonergan was the heroine with three goals as the Colonels knocked off third-seeded U-32, 5-3, in a quarterfinal on March 5.
Miskovich got the other two goals and had two assists, while Liz Day also set up two goals. Liv Romo and Lonergan each were credited with an assist.
Brattleboro finished the season with an 8-13-1 record. While the Colonels will be losing Day, Max Yost, Natalie Gadowski, Jenna Murrow, Kalin Noble, and Emma Allen to graduation, there is a solid core of underclasswomen returning to make a new batch of memories for Colonels’ fans.
• After winning their first two playoff games at home, third-seeded Twin Valley is making another trip to the Barre Auditorium to play in the Division IV semifinals.
The road to “The Aud” began on March 5 with a perfunctory 75-39 thrashing of No. 14 Mid-Vermont Christian in a first-round game. Owen Grinold scored 19 points to lead the Wildcats, while Izaak Park added 11 points.
It took a little more work for the Wildcats to knock off the 11th-ranked Rivendell Raptors, 48-46, in a quarterfinal game on March 8.
Rivendell opened the game with a 12-3 run, but Twin Valley recovered and rallied to trail 25-24 at the half. Eleven straight points by Jack McHale was the key to the Wildcats’ comeback.
In the second half, Park was given the unenviable task of defending Rivendell center Isaac Martel, who was beating up the Wildcats in the first half. While Martel was far bigger, Park was far more tenacious and held Martel to just two points in the second half.
Twin Valley opened with a 10-0 run to start the second half, but the Raptors battled back to take a 43-41 lead with 3:30 left in the game. Park responded with a three-pointer to put the Wildcats back in front, and Colin McHale made four clutch free throws in the final minutes to seal the victory.
Jack McHale scored a game-high 25 points, while Park added nine points and Colin McHale chipped in with eight.
Next up for the Wildcats is the second-seeded Poultney Blue Devils (16-6) at the Aud on March 13.
• Burr & Burton sophomore forward Nasier Camp scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and had nine rebounds and five blocks as the No. 7 Bulldogs rallied back from a halftime deficit to top No. 10 Brattleboro, 58-43, in a Division I first-round game on March 6 in Manchester.
Brattleboro led 12-9 after the first quarter and led by as much as 10 points in the second half before the Bulldogs found their legs and cut the deficit to 25-21 at halftime.
An 11-4 run to start the second half put the Bulldogs in front, and their defense all but shut down the Colonels at the end of the third quarter and at the start of the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Senior guard Jake Nicholson scored 19 points to lead the Bulldogs. Charlie Galanes led the Colonels with 12 points. Tyler Millerick added 11 and Hunter Beebe scored 10 as Brattleboro finished the season at 12-9.
• Drew Drageset scored 21 points as No. 3 Lake Region defeated the 14th-ranked Bellows Falls boys basketball team, 48-30, in a Division II first-round playoff game in Orleans on March 6.
Ryan Kelly scored 17 points and Dylan Clark and Isaac Wilkinson added six and four points, respectively, as the Terriers’ season ended with a 10-11 record.
• Leland & Gray lost to Peoples Academy, 55-32, in a Division II first-round playoff game on March 5.
Liam Towle led the Rebels with eight points, while Lucas Newton added seven points.Christian Thomsen and Mike Fitzpatrick each scored six points and Matt Emerson contributed five points. Leland & Gray ended the season at 4-17.
• Brattleboro also came up short against Missisquoi in boys’ hockey, as the No. 7 Colonels journeyed to Swanton on March 6 and lost to the second-seeded Thunderbirds, 4-2, in a Division II quarterfinal.
Jack Pattison scored an unassisted goal in the first period to give the Colonels a 1-0 lead, but the Thunderbirds tied the game in the second period and scored three more goals in the third period to take control of the game. Will Taggard got the Colonels’ other goal, assisted by Gavin Howard and Pattison, as time wound down.
Goalie Austin Wood finished with 43 saves for the Colonels, who ended the season with a 7-9-6 record.
• The Brattleboro boys were a close second to Mount Anthony in the state Division I Nordic Skiing Championships, while the Brattleboro girls’ finished fifth.
In the freestyle races in Craftsbury on Feb. 28, the Mount Anthony and Brattleboro boys were tied after the individual races, but MAU eked out a two-second victory over the Colonels in the 4x2.5K relays, finishing first in 24 minutes, 30 seconds.
Brattleboro placed four boys in the top 15 in the 5-kilometer individual event— Henry Thurber (fifth, 14:13), Evan Koch (seventh, 14:25), Galen Fletcher (11th, 15:27), and Declyn Tourville (13th, 15:28).
Sarah Gallagher was third in 16:08 to lead the Colonel girls in the 5K, followed by Liz Morse (13th, 17:17), Angelika Toomey (28th, 18:51.5), and Bella Takacs (29th, 18:51.7). Brattleboro was fourth in the girls’ relay in 30:11.
The classical events were held in Ripton at the Rikert Nordic Center on March 4. In the boys’ 5-kilometer individual race, Brattleboro did well enough to close the gap with MAU to a mere four points.
Thurber led the way with a seventh place finish in 16:34, followed by Fletcher (ninth, 17:16), Koch (11th,17:29), and Orion Stone (19th, 18:04). Declyn Tourville was 20th, Nolan Holmes was 33rd, Sam Freitas-Eagan was 41st, and Ty Allembert was 52nd. In the relays, MAU again bested Brattleboro to claim the state title.
In the girls’ 5 kilometer race, Gallagher led the Colonels with a sixth place finish in 18:20, followed by Liz Morse (18th, 20:04), Bella Takacs (26th, 20:55), and Alexandra Miskovich (32nd, 21:38) to complete the scoring. Angelika Toomey was 33rd, Neveah Beauchamp was 39th, Lily Tessitore was 41st, and Hazel Wagner was 55th.
Spring sports sign-ups at the Rec
• The Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department will be holding registration for all their spring sports programs on Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 and 14, at the Gibson Aiken Center in the Conference Room from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
On those two days, youngsters can register for boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, youth softball, T-ball, and Small Fry baseball. Call the Recreation & Parks Department at 802-254-5808 for more information, or go to brattleboro.org and click on “Recreation & Parks” to check out their spring flier.
Senior bowling roundup
• Before the Week 10 matches of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl got started on March 7, everyone joined in a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Howard Manley, who had celebrated his 100th birthday three days earlier on March 4.
As for the standings, Team 10 (35-15) moved into first place, while Team 3 (33-17) is in second place and Team 9 (32-18), is now third. Team 7 (31-19) moved up to fourth place, followed by Team 4 (30-20), Team 2 (25-25), Team 5 (24-26), Team 11 (23-27), Team 8 (21-29), Team 1 (17-33), Team 12 (15-35), and Team 6 (14-36).
Carol Frizzell had the women’s high handicap game (259) and series (727), while Doug Switzer again had the men’s high handicap game (250) and Marty Adams had the high handicap series (669). Team 3 had the high team handicap game (952) and series (2,673).
In scratch scoring, Warren Corriveau Sr. rolled a 217 game as part of a 592 series to lead the men for a second week. Gary Montgomery also had a 217 game as part of his 575 series. Jon Peters (554) was the only other male with a 500-plus series.
Josie Rigby rolled a 191 game as part of her 539 series to lead the women, while Frizzell rolled a 194 on her way to a 532 series.
Bob Wistrom (201) also rolled a 200-plus game, while Sandy Ladd tied with Rigby for the second-best women’s score with a 181.