The Brattleboro Colonels had a senior-laden hockey team last season and finished with a 17-3 record.
This season, the only starter returned from that group is goaltender Greg DiSilva, and coach Eric Libardoni must build a competitive team from scratch.
“Something like 11 of our 16 players are new to the team,” he said after the Colonels were throttled by the Rutland Raiders, 8-1, in the home opener at Withington Rink on Dec. 4.
“We need to grow up a lot as hockey players. We’re going to figure it out, but it’s going to be a process. Hopefully, we’ll learn sooner rather than later,” he told The Commons.
The Colonels’ rookies definitely were thrown into the deep end against Rutland, a team Libardoni says is one of the best they’ll see all season. Still, Brattleboro hung with the Raiders, trailing only 3-1 at the five-minute mark of the second period.
Then junior defenseman Cooper Turner-Renaud picked up a five-minute major penalty plus a game misconduct for an illegal hit from behind on a Rutland player.
From that point on, the Raiders were on the power play for most of the remaining 10 minutes of the second period, and picked up three goals as a result to put the game out of reach.
DiSilva faced nearly 70 shots and made 61 saves in one of the most difficult nights of his high school career: He faced 28 shots alone in the second period.
Offensively, the Colonels had a hard time getting the puck into the Rutland zone, with only five shots in the first, three shots in the second, and none in the third. The lone Colonel goal came on the power play at 11:01 of the first period, when freshman forward Declan Lonergan wrested in a shot off a pass from junior defenseman Jon Curtis. Sophomore Braxton Lynn also was credited with an assist.
• The Brattleboro girls’ ice hockey team faced a similar fate as the boys in the season opener at Rutland, with a 5-0 loss on Dec. 4 to spoil first-year coach Kraig LaPorte’s debut.
The Rutland girls nearly put as many shots on Colonels goaltender Alex Fellows as the Rutland boys did against DiSilva. Fellows faced 65 shots, stopping 60. The Colonels managed just seven shots on offense.
The Colonels then played at Woodstock on Saturday and bounced back with a 5-0 win. Fellows and Keagan Jameson split the goaltending duties and combined for five saves and the shutout.
Brattleboro took 25 total shots on goal as Meyru Bhanti, Cassidy Stebbins, Madison Doucette, Michaela Shea-Gander, and Dorothy Kinney-Landis all scored.
Paying the bills
• Ice hockey is the one sport at BUHS that is not primarily supported by the school. For two decades, the Brattleboro Hockey Educational Trust (BHET) has been the entity keeping the Colonels skating each season.
Since its inception in 1993, BHET, parents of the hockey players, and local friends of high school hockey have contributed more than $350,000 to BUHS to help support the ice hockey programs.
In addition to private donors, team fundraisers help pay the bills. At Gallery Walk last Friday, the Colonel boys were selling holiday wreaths; you’ll see these wreaths for sale as well before home games at Withington Rink, up to Christmas.
BHET has also teamed up with Bruegger’s Bagels on Canal Street for monthly fundraisers. Stop in on Dec. 11, Jan. 11, 2014 and Feb. 8, and make sure to bring the Bruegger’s Bagels ad in from the program you’ll find handed out at the rink at both boys’ and girls’ games. With that ad, 15 percent of your purchase will be donated to the hockey teams.
The Colonel boys also have a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Jan. 23, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Brattleboro Elks Home on Putney Road. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 children under 12, and are available at the door, from any member of the team, and by calling Sherryl Libardoni at 802-380-8134.
For information on the BHET and its activities in support of high school hockey, contact BHET, 220 Hale Rd., Brattleboro, VT 05301, or 802-257-5302.
Latchis Arts raffles off Patriots tickets
• You have until Dec. 15 to enter Latchis Arts’ raffle to win a pair of tickets to a New England Patriots home game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Dec. 29, at 1 p.m., at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Putnam Insurance Agency of Brattleboro donated the tickets in Section 207, Row 8, Seats 11 and 12.
Each chance costs $10. Enter to win at www.latchisarts.org. Purchase as many chances as you wish in multiples of $10. Each chance will get its own ticket in the drawing, which is Dec. 16 during the Nowell Sing We Clear concert at the Latchis.
Raffle proceeds will help pay for new mural lighting in the theater, an add-on to the recently completed Campaign for The Heavens and The Earth.
No snow? No problem at Grafton Ponds
• Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center, one of only five Nordic resorts in Vermont with snowmaking, has been making snow as temperatures have allowed.
Thanks to its snowmaking system, Grafton Ponds hopes to open on Saturday, Dec. 14, with a groomed base-area skiing loop for all abilities. Skiers can ski for free on opening day if they bring in a non-perishable food item, which will be donated to the Townshend Food Bank.
Grafton Ponds says it will continue making snow as temperatures allow in order to increase the amount of skiable terrain — and to build its popular 600-foot snow tubing run in time for the winter holiday.
They’re also extending their early Season Pass pricing through Dec. 20, with a special rate for a Family Season Pass of $199.
To check on trail conditions, call Grafton Ponds at 802-843-2400 or visit www.graftonponds.com.
2014 hunting, fishing, trapping licenses available Dec. 16
• Vermont hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses for the new year will be available through the Department of Fish and Wildlife, www.vtfishandwildlife.com, on Dec. 16.
Online license purchasers are automatically entered to win an Old Town canoe and other prizes. The winner of the canoe and a trolling motor will be drawn on May 15, 2014, while the winner of a hunting rifle and hunting jacket will be drawn at the Yankee Sportsmen’s Classic in January 2015.
While on the website, license buyers are urged to join the Vermont Fish and Wildlife mailing list to receive the latest department news. They can also purchase a 2014 Fish and Wildlife calendar and donate to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.
According to the department, Vermont leads New England in hunting and fishing, with 26 percent of residents participating in one or both.
Printed copies of the 2014 Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping Laws and Guide are also available from license agents. The department plans to post an online version as well.