If you love hockey, and love to see it played with smoothness, efficiency, and smarts, you’ll enjoy watching the Brattleboro Colonels boys’ hockey team right now.
The Colonels still play with their trademark aggressiveness, but now, they are a little smarter about how they use their size and strength.
But most of all, the Colonels are playing with patience. They’re not making mistakes, and they are controlling the puck and creating scoring chances.
Brattleboro offered a near flawless example of this in their 3-0 win over Peoples Academy at Withington Rink on Jan. 23. They committed only two penalties, put 44 shots on goal, and dominated play from start to finish.
“You’ve got to take care of the puck,” said Colonels coach Eric Libardoni. “Setting up the forecheck is our key, because that makes teams go the length of the ice.”
The Colonels got their first goal just 2:41 into the opening period when senior forward Adam Griffin centered the puck to fellow senior forward Romello Lindsey, who was streaking toward the net and beat Peoples’ goalie Lukas Caldwell with a wrist shot.
Brattleboro took advantage of a power play opportunity in the second period as Griffin scored on a slap shot from the point with 8:23 remaining in the period. Griffin closed out the scoring with 11:42 left in the third period.
Goalie Greg DiSilva faced only 12 shots in picking up his sixth shutout of the season, while Caldwell kept the outcome from being worse with 41 saves.
“We were smart and physical, too,” said Libardoni. “We had a lot of good hits and were still smart in not taking penalties. We are physical. We have a lot of big guys and we need to use the size to our advantage.”
The Colonels followed up that effort with an 11-2 beatdown of St. Johnsbury last Saturday. Andy Harris had a game-high five goals and three assists as Brattleboro took a 7-0 lead in the opening period. Evan Perkins had three assists in the first period as Harris scored three times and Nik Rancourt, Philip Perkins, Jimmy Podlaski, and Perkins all found the back of the net.
Podlaski also scored in the second period, as Harris got two more goals. Rancourt got the final goal on a power play in the third for an 11-0 lead before the Hilltoppers scored twice. DiSilva finished with 26 saves as the Colonels finished the week ranked No. 2 in Division II with a 10-2 record.
The Brattleboro Colonels girls’ hockey team has struggled for most of the season, but last week seemed like the turning point of the young team’s season.
On Jan. 21 at Withington Rink, the Colonels knocked off the top team in their division, North Country, in a 2-1 shocker of a victory.
Everything came together for the Colonels. Goalie Alex Fellows made 23 saves and held the Falcons scoreless until the third period. Forwards Amber Bessette and Meyru Bhanti put pressure on North Country and gave the Colonels’ top playmaker, Maddie Rollins, room to create.
Rollins got the first big scoring chance in the opening period with her drive off of North Country goalie Miakaela Doran. Forward Asha Dimatteo-LePape pounced on the rebound and flicked in for the Colonels’ first goal.
North Country came out on the attack in the second period, but Brattleboro ended up getting what turned out to be the winning goal when Rollins slid a shot past Doran with two minutes left. Goalie Alex Fellows and the Brattleboro defenders did the rest in the third period, keeping the Falcons from getting back into it until Whitney Bernier scored late in the game.
Brattleboro then made it two wins in a row with a 5-1 victory at Woodstock last Saturday. Rollins scored three goals, one in each period. Kellie Schiller got her first career goal in the first period, and Madison Doucette, who assisted on one of Rollins’ goals, got an unassisted tally of her own in the third. Fellows made eight saves to earn the victory for the 3-7 Colonels.
• The Colonel girls will be out collecting donations to help support their team on Saturday, Feb. 2 and 9, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Brattleboro Food Co-op and Burrows Specialized Sports on Main Street.
Hockey is the only varsity sport that is not fully supported by the school, so both the girls’ and boys’ teams have to make up the difference themselves. This season, the Colonel girls are about $5,000 short, mostly due to the large number of players on the team. The Colonels have 23 players this season, and many are new to hockey.
If you would like to mail a donation, make a check payable to “Friends of Girls Hockey” in care of Larry Doucette, 56 Jelly Mill Hill, Dummerston, VT 05301-9651. If you have any questions or need more information, contact Doucette at 802-254-2815.
• And, the Colonel girls will play their annual “Pink at the Rink” game on Saturday, Feb. 9. A bake sale, face painting, and a chuck-a-puck contest will be held, with all monies collected being donated to the Young Survivor’s Coalition, a nonprofit organization that provides support and services to young women battling breast cancer.
• Brattleboro had a tough time with Hartford in a 46-30 road loss on Jan. 22. Hartford used the press to force numerous turnovers and race out to a 26-8 lead by halftime. Part of the problem was rust, since it had been eight days since the Colonels played their last game. Maddy Derosia and Kayla Savage scored eight and seven points, respectively, to lead the Colonels.
Coach Paul Freed regrouped his team, put them through some productive practices, and the result was a 47-40 win over St. Johnsbury at the BUHS gym last Friday.
The key to this Colonels’ victory was teamwork. Freed played all 12 players who dressed for the game, and when the reserves were thrust into tough situations, they delivered. Megan Powell kept the Colonels competitive with seven points in the first quarter, while Megan Siggins, Taylor Bird, and Molly Goodhue, and Taylor added six, six, five, and four points, respectively.
The hard work by the reserves helped offset a tough night on offense by the starters. Abbie Lesure was the only starter in double figures with 11 points, while early foul trouble held Ari Harrison to six points. Lesure also had seven assists, as the Colonels had fewer turnovers than their opponents for the first time all season.
“I knew it was going to take all of us tonight,” said Freed after the game. “Finishing a game strong is something new for us. We were the hammer, instead of the nail, and that’s a nice feeling.”
The Colonels finished the week at 4-6, and if they can keeping playing as well as they did against St. Johnsbury, they may be a tough out in the Division I playoffs.
• I may have spoken too soon about Twin Valley when I wrote last week that they are starting to turn the corner on their season. The Wildcats took a big step backward with a pair of tough losses.
On Jan. 21, Twin Valley ran into a bigger, faster, and more skilled West Rutland squad, and the result was a 46-16 loss. Two nights later in Arlington, the Wildcats committed a season-high 29 turnovers in a 42-17 loss.
The other problem that has plagued the Wildcats all season — missing easy layups — also resurfaced against the Eagles. That made this loss even more frustrating, considering Twin Valley played decent defense in the first half, trailing 5-3 after one period and 14-5 at the half.
• Alex Morrow, Ashley Goddard, and Haley Buffum were dominant in Leland & Gray’s 41-31 win over Otter Valley in Townshend on Jan. 22. Morrow (12 points, 11 rebounds), Goddard (10 points, 10 rebounds), and Buffum (8 points, 9 rebounds) did much of their damage in the second half.
At Arlington last Friday, the Rebels were without Goddard, who was out with the flu. The result was a 53-18 loss to the Eagles. Leland & Gray was held to 18 shots from the field and turned the ball over 26 times. Morrow led the Rebels with six points, seven rebounds, and five blocks.
• Brattleboro made some halftime adjustments against Springfield, and the result was a 47-33 win on Jan. 21 at the BUHS gym. Chris McAuliffe led the Colonels with 12 points. Isaac Roach added 10 points, and Jackson Batchelder finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
Three nights later against Windsor, the Colonels cruised to a 62-35 win. Connor Elliott-Knaggs led the way with 14, while Roach added 11 and Tyler Higley chipped in 10. The Colonels led by 10 at the half, and a 22-9 burst in the third quarter put the game out of reach.
• Twin Valley’s defense ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and allowed Proctor to rally for a 58-49 win in Wilmington on Jan. 21. Dal Nesbitt had 13 points for the Wildcats, but all but two came in the first half. Colin Lozito chipped in nine points and nine assists.
Against West Rutland on Jan. 24, the Wildcats fell behind early and never recovered in a 57-51 loss. Nesbitt was again the top scorer with 15 points,
• Windsor’s Tyson Boudreau hit a three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to lead the Yellowjackets to a 57-53 win over Bellows Falls on Jan. 22. Mike Labeau led the Terriers with 15 points, while Kendrick Mills had 12 points and five assists.
• Leland & Gray took care of business with a 41-31 win over Otter Valley on Jan. 22, although the Rebels needed a strong second half to do it. Perhaps they put out too much effort in that game, because they followed it up with a 45-36 loss to Proctor two nights later.
It was only the second loss of the season for the 8-2 Rebels, but it was their first defeat in regulation.
• A lack of snow at their course at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center (VABEC) meant that the Colonels had to move their first home meet last Saturday to Grafton Ponds and, despite the change of venue, the result was a good one for Brattleboro as both Graham Glennon and Halie Lange won their respective races.
Glennon won the boys’ 5.2-kilometer classic race, finishing 71 seconds ahead of second-place skier Ben Faller of Mount Anthony. Other Colonels in the top five included Declan King in 12th, Colby McGinnin 14th, Jonathon Burdo in 15th, and Sam Sherlock in 21st.
Lange again outdueled her main rival, Chloe Levins of Rutland, in the girls’ race, edging Levins by 1.4 seconds. Linnea Jahn had her best race of the season with a fourth place finish.
Weather-permitting, the Colonels are scheduled to host a freestyle race at VABEC on Feb. 6 at 3 p.m.
Free ski, snowboard lessons at Memorial Park
• 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 will be offered Thursday evenings; Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.
You must have your own equipment and a $5 lift ticket is required if you will be riding the T-bar. You must pre-register by 8 p.m. on the Monday prior to that week’s lesson by calling 802-254-3540. You will need to indicate your skill level (never, some, or other). Final registration at the hill will require a parent signed release for those under 18 years of age.
Stay updated at http://www.facebook.com/LivingMemorialParkSnowSports or their website: http://www.vtsnowsports.org.
Winter carnival at Grafton Ponds
• Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center will host the first-ever Grafton Winter Carnival on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day’s events will include snow tubing on its 600-foot tubing hill, ice skating and a bonfire with s’mores and hot dogs.
The fee for the events is $10 per person. Tubing and ice skating will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the bonfire will start at 2 p.m. The resort’s most popular activities — Nordic skiing and snowshoeing — will be offered all day, per its usual operation and pricing, as well. A day of sleigh rides will also be offered, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pricing is just $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
For additional details or questions, contact the Grafton Ponds information line at 802-843-2400 or visit http://www.graftonponds.com.