Leap Year Day was Hockey Night in Brattleboro, and the fans of Colonels hockey jammed into Withington Rink on Feb. 29 to see two great Division II first-round playoff games that saw the Colonel boys and girls both victorious in their respective games.
• In the girls’ game, the eighth-seeded Colonels (7-13) beat No. 9 Burr & Burton (4-16) in a dramatic 1-0 overtime thriller.
Brattleboro senior Eliya Petrie and Burr & Burton junior Lola Herzog both played flawlessly in goal through regulation time.
The pressure kept building in the extra period until Juliana Miskovich sent a pass to Liv Romo, who slipped the puck past the right pad of Herzog for the game-winner with 1:31 left in the overtime period.
“They deserved that goal,” said Colonels coach Eugene Frost. “Liv and Juliana worked hard all night and it finally paid off. In overtime, it always comes down to just one play and they were the ones who made it.”
The two teams split the regular season series, and this playoff game was evenly matched all the way. Frost said the difference was that the Colonels’ defense, led by senior Tobin Lonergan, was air-tight.
With the win, the Colonel girls advanced to the quarterfinals where, at press time, they faced top-seeded and undefeated Spaulding in Barre on March 3.
• The boys’ game had far less drama, as the sixth-seeded Colonels (12-8-1) rolled over No. 11 Mount Mansfield (5-15-1) in a dominating 6-1 victory.
Brattleboro got its first goal from Will Taggard, assisted by Gavin Howard, with 12:16 left in the opening period. The Colonel boys then exploded for four goals in the second period to put the game away.
Anthony Palomba started the barrage with a goal just 17 seconds into the period, assisted by Nathan Powers. Ernie Antonucci then got an unassisted goal with 8:40 left in the period.
Brattleboro later took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play with a goal from Jack Pattison, assisted by Gabe Heiden, with 3:26 remaining. Palomba finished it with his second goal of the period, assisted by Mason Foard, with 1:34 left.
Mount Mansfield’s Will Hauf spoiled the shutout bid of Colonels goalie Austin Wood with a goal with 5:20 left in the third period. Joe Koes capped off the Colonels’ scoring with a goal, assisted by Foard, with 49.2 seconds left.
“We played fast and we got the pucks out of our zone,” said Colonels coach Eric Libardoni. “We really worked hard as a team and played smart hockey.”
Now 12-8-1, the Colonels boys will be tested on March 4, when they head north to play No. 3 Milton (14-4-2) in a quarterfinal match.
• Division IV has been the most competitive of the four boys’ basketball divisions, with Proctor, Rivendell, Danville, and Twin Valley all making strong cases for being the last team standing.
Twin Valley coach Chris Brown likes his chances. “We’re ready to go,” he said on Feb. 28 after knocking off the ninth-seeded Sharon Academy Phoenix, 55-45. “This is a motivated group.”
The Phoenix gave the top-seeded Wildcats all they could handle, as they came back from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to cut the lead to two, 42-40, with four minutes to play.
Twin Valley then turned up the defensive pressure and forced several turnovers to key a 12-2 run that punched the Wildcats’ ticket to Barre.
Jack McHale, who had been bottled up by Sharon’s defense through the first three quarters of the game, got hot and scored eight of his 10 total points during the winning run.
But until McHale heated up, it was up to Owen Grinold to carry the Wildcats. Playing with intensity at both ends of the court, he led Twin Valley with 21 points. “Owen was the man tonight,” Brown said. “He was the star of the show for sure.”
Dylan Depuis also picked up the scoring slack, contributing 14 points. Colin McHale chipped in eight points and Issak Park scored three points. Olly Skeet-Browning led the Phoenix with 20 points and Tyler Chapin added 16.
The Wildcats beat No. 4 Danville, 59-48, in a semifinal game at the Barre Auditorium on March 2. Twin Valley now advances to the championship game on March 7 at the Aud. We’ll have more on that in next week’s roundup.
• The record will show that the 11th-seeded Essex Hornets upset the sixth-seeded Brattleboro Colonels, 74-63, in a first-round Division I boys’ basketball playoff game in the jam-packed BUHS gym on Feb. 26. However, dig a little deeper, and it wasn’t that much of a shocker.
On paper, this game seemed like a cinch for the Colonels. Essex had a 6-14 record, but was mostly due to the traditionally tough schedule that the Chittenden County schools play. While the Colonels were locked into a Southern Vermont League schedule with eight games against Division II and III teams, only three of Essex’s games were against non-Division I foes.
Essex played 10 games against the top five teams in Division I this season — Rice, Champlain Valley, St. Johnsbury, South Burlington, and Mount Mansfield. So, even though the Hornets entered this game with only one win in their final 12 games, they still were a dangerous opponent.
The Hornets also had two other things going for them — they’ve got six seniors on the varsity roster and five players that are 6-foot-3 or taller — including 6-foot-7 center Mitchell Moffett. Their size and experience took away the Colonels’ inside game on offense.
Defensively, the Colonels had no answers for Essex junior guard Aiden Paquette. He drilled eight three-pointers, six of them in the first half, to finish with a game-high 26 points. Senior forward Anthony Decarvalho was equally tough for the Colonels to contain inside, as he scored 21 points.
Senior point guard and co-captain Tyler Millerick did all he could to pull the Colonels back into contention after Essex outscored the Colonels, 24-12, in the second quarter to take a 42-27 lead at halftime. He scored 20 points, but it was not enough.
Charlie Galanes and Gabe Packard each had 12 points, and Keegan Givens made three three-pointers and finished with 11.
The Colonels finished the season at 13-8, and will lose Millerick, Galanes, and Givens to graduation. The good news is there is a lot of talent coming back, and the underclassmen will definitely remember how this game turned out, and work that much harder to make sure there is not a repeat.
• Third-seeded Bellows Falls beat No. 14 Oxbow, 57-45, in a Division III first-round game on Feb. 26 at Holland Gymnasium.
Oxbow gave the Terriers a brief scare, and got within four points of tying the game in the fourth quarter before two of their starters fouled-out with four minutes to play.
Dylan Clark led BF to its first home playoff win in 12 years with 16 points. Ryan Kelly added 11 points and Isaac Wilkerson chipped in with nine. Bryce Illsley led Oxbow with 21 points.
BF’s dream of a trip to Barre died on Feb. 29, as the No. 6 Peoples Academy Wolves knocked off the Terriers, 44-33, in a quarterfinal game dominated by defense.
Peoples outscored BF, 12-5, in the first quarter, but an 8-0 run in the second quarter got the Terriers back into it and the half ended with the Wolves in front, 18-17. The Wolves’ defense then held BF to a single basket in the third quarter and Peoples built up a 30-21 lead heading into the final quarter.
BF made one last stand with a full-court pressure defense that forced several turnovers and brought the Terriers to within five, 38-33, with 42 seconds to play. The Wolves then finished with a 6-0 run to reserve its spot at the Aud.
Ryan Kelley led the Terriers with 14 points, while Charlie Viet was the Wolves’ high scorer with 16 points. BF finished the season at 14-8.
• No. 16 Leland & Gray were knocked out by top-seeded Hazen, 85-48, in a first-round Division III playoff on Feb. 25. Hazen led 56-17 at the half and was never seriously challenged by the Rebels.
Isaiah Baker scored 25 points to lead Hazen, while Jadon Baker added 16 points. Liam Towle led the 2-19 Rebels with 15 points, while Matt Emerson chipped in with 10 points.
• Brattleboro finished the regular season strong with four wins in their last five games to pick up the eighth-seed in Division I with an 8-12 record. That gave them a home playoff game against No. 9 Rice (7-13) at the BUHS gym on March 3.
Brattleboro started the last week of the regular season on Feb. 25 with a 53-48 win over Mount Anthony at the BUHS gym. The Colonels opened with a 14-2 run and took control to stay. MAU kept it close, thanks to 29 points from their star, Grace Mahar.
The Colonels had a balanced attack, led by Kiki McNary’s 12 points. Rachel Rooney added 10 points, and Alyssa Scherlin and Lauryn Sargent each chipped in eight points. Brattleboro then beat visiting Burr & Burton, 41-31, in the regular season finale on Feb. 28
• Bellows Falls earned the sixth seed in Division III with a 15-5 record. At press time, the Terriers were taking on No. 11 Winooski (6-14) in a first-round playoff game at Holland Gymnasium on March 3.
BF got a good dress rehearsal for the playoffs by knocking off previously undefeated West Rutland, 67-61, in a Senior Night game at Holland Gymnasium on Feb. 25.
Halle Dickerson led the Terriers with 29 points, while Maya Waryas scored 11 and Taylor Goodell added 10. Seniors Dickerson, Goodell, Molly Potter, and Emily Bazin were all honored before the game.
• Leland & Gray got the 13th seed in Division III with a 7-13 record. They’ll head north to face fourth-seeded Peoples (17-3) in a first-round playoff game in Lamoille on March 4.
• Twin Valley was seeded 10th in Division IV with a 7-13 record. At press time, they were traveling north to face seventh-seeded Richford (9-10) in a first-round playoff game on March 3.
Dunklee wins silver in world biathlon championships
• A day after her 34th birthday, biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton won her second silver metal in the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships held in Athholz, Italy on Feb. 14.
A two-time Olympian and the only American woman to ever win a medal in biathlon at a world championship meet, Dunklee picked up her second silver in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint.
Dunklee was perfect with her rifle, not missing a single target through two days of competition, and battled through the high-altitude conditions to finish in 21 minutes, 19.9 seconds, just 6.8 seconds behind gold medalist Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway.
The daughter of famed Olympic nordic skier Stan Dunklee and niece of Vermont nordic champion Everett Dunklee, Susan Dunklee is carrying on the family tradition quite nicely.
Senior bowling roundup
• Trash-O-Matic (29-11) remained in first place after Week 8 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League’s winter season at Brattleboro Bowl. Stayin’ Alive (26-14) had a 5-0 week to move into second place, while 4 D’s (25-15) went 0-5 and slipped back into third place.
Keglers (22-18) is now in fourth, followed by Bowling Stones (21-19), Pin Droppers (20-20), Magic in Motion (18-22), Ageless Wonders (16-24), Pin Strikers (13-27), and No Names (10-30).
Rosalie Howe had the women’s high handicap game (271), while Pat Bentrup had the high handicap series (682). Gordon Evans had the men’s high handicap game (264), while Warren Corriveau Sr. had the high handicap series (696). No Names had the high team handicap game (871) and Stayin’ Alive again had the high team handicap series (2,478).
In scratch scoring, Corriveau had games of 223, 214, and 205 to complete a 642 series to lead the men. Four men had a 500-plus series: Gary Montgomery (546), Jerry Dunham (528), Wayne Randall (524), and Fred Ashworth (500). Montgomery rolled a 231 game, while Evans had a 199 game.
Howe led the women with a high scratch game of 179, while Shirley Aiken had a 176 game as part of her high scratch series of 467.