Colonel boys lose hockey opener to St. Johnsbury

The three biggest problems last season for the Brattleboro Colonels boys' hockey team were taking too many penalties, giving up easy goals late in periods, and a lack of scoring.

Those problems cropped up again on opening night Saturday against the St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers at Withington Rink. The Colonels almost overcame them, but ended up losing, 3-2.

Brattleboro committed only four penalties, but only killed off two of St. Johnsbury's four power plays. The other two resulted in goals.

“That about tells the story,” said Colonels coach Eric Libardoni. “The penalty kills killed us last year. (The Hilltoppers) didn't do anything special, we just didn't really play fast enough on our penalty kill. I'm a little disappointed with our intensity.”

The Colonels certainly had their chances. They outshot the Hilltoppers, 48-15, and had seven power plays. Unfortunately, the Colonels failed to play at a consistant level of intensity through the entire game.

Things looked promising as senior forward Adam Griffin scored with 9:08 left in the first period to give the Colonels the early lead. But St. Johnsbury tied it up with about a minute left on a point-blank shot by defenseman Roope Kyttala.

The Hilltoppers took the lead with 10:31 left in the second period on a backhander by defenseman Skye Keeshin, and made it 3-1 on Kyttala's second goal with 11:38 left in the third.

Brattleboro made a good effort to come back in the third. Forward Jamie Martell scored a power play goal with 2:42 left in the game. The Colonels put plenty of pressure on Hilltoppers goalie Chris O'Donnell in the last two minutes, especially when Libardoni pulled his goalie, Greg DiSilva, for an extra attacker in the final minute.

The 0-1 Colonels hope to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Barre to face U-32.

Girls' hockey

• The Brattleboro girls also came up short in their opener on Saturday, a 6-3 road loss to the Hartford Hurricanes.

Alex Fogg had a goal and two assists to lead Hartford. The Hurricanes outshot the Colonels, 28-15, and kept the Brattleboro goaltending tandem of Lou Lou Terwilliger and Alex Fellows on their heels for the entire game.

Miranda Moseley scored 2 goals for 0-1 Brattleboro, while Maddie Rollins had a goal and an assist.

Girls' basketball

• Twin Valley got its season going Saturday with a 40-29 win over Mount Everett of Sheffield, Mass. Point guard Savannah Nesbitt scored 8 points to lead the Wildcats, while Lexi Reinertson chipped in 5, and Shannon Lozito, Abbi Molner, and Jordan Niles all finished with 4 points each. Hannah Swanson controlled the boards with 13 rebounds.

There still was some early season rust for the 1-0 Wildcats, as they went 5-for-15 from the free throw line and committed 21 turnovers. Defensively, the Wildcats were solid, building on a 21-16 halftime lead by holding Mount Everett to just 4 points in the third quarter.

BF, Hartford form joint wrestling team

• Of all the high school sports in Vermont, wrestling has struggled the most to survive. Only about 200 athletes from 25 high schools compete in wrestling statewide.

Bellows Falls has beaten the odds by keeping its program going for nearly two decades through thick and thin. In recent years, it has had several wrestlers from the Hartford area participate with the BF squad.

This season, Bellows Falls was granted permission by the Vermont Principals' Association to form a co-operative wrestling team with Hartford High School. It's a win-win for both schools. BF gets more people on its team, and Hartford gets to offer wrestling as a winter team sport to its students.

As school enrollments shrink around the state, you'll be seeing more cooperative high school teams. Already, we've seen Harwood and U-32 team up in football and wrestling, while Enosburg and Richford have a joint wrestling team. Mount Abraham and Vergennes joined forces in football this past season, as did Montpelier with Northfield and Williamstown.

The first wrestling match of the joint BF/Hartford team came on Saturday in Peterborough, N.H. Brothers Austin and Nolan Viens each reached the finals. In the 106-pound weight-classs, Austin won three matches in a row to become just the second freshman in Claude Weyant's 16-year coaching career to win a meet title. Nolan went 3-0 before losing by points in the finals of the 145-pound class.

Steve Cerrone went 2-2 to place fourth in the 14-team tournament, while Kyle Record won 3 of his 5 match­es, and Patrick Libuda and Chris Earle each went 1-2 overall.

Colonel footballers earn All-State honors

Brattleboro's Hassan Cansler was recently named to the Burlington Free Press All-State high school football team.

Although Cansler had a good season at wide receiver, with 25 catches for 500 yards, it was the senior's work as a defensive back that earned him All-State honors. He had 5 interceptions and played with a force that belied his 5-foot-7, 140 pound frame.

Bellows Falls' Will Bourne, a senior, earned second team honors on defense as a kick returner, while Brattleboro's Soren Pelz-Walsh earned honorable mention at wide receiver on the All-State team on offense.

Also, Cansler and Pelz-Walsh joined teammates Andy Hale and Trevor Gundry as two-way selections on the Division I All-Conference team, which was selected by the 14 coaches in the league.

Cansler was a first-team selection at defensive back and a second-teamer at receiver, while Pelz-Walsh was a first-teamer at receiver and a second-teamer at defensive back.

Hale made the sec­ond team on the offensive line and earned honorable mention at inside linebacker, while Gundry was a sec­ond team defensive lineman and first team punter. Also earning honorable mention for Brattleboro was quarterback Tyler Higley, offensive lineman Chris McAuliffe and defensive back Noah Simeon.

These post-season honors are one indication that, after a 5-4 season, the Colonels football program may be heading in the right direction.

Rec Dept. offers sports clinics

• Young basketball and hockey players can brush up on their skills during the holiday vacation week with a pair of clinics presented by the Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department.

Paul Freed and the BUHS varsity girls' basketball players will lead a basketball clinic on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at the Gibson-Aiken Center for children in grades K-6. The cost for this one-day clinic is $5 for Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Players, $10 for all others.

The clinic is co-ed and for all ages and abilities. Children in grades K-2 will meet from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., while children in grades 3-6 will meet from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Professional staff from Pride Hockey will lead a hockey clinic at the Nelson Withington Skating Facility from Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Thursday, Dec. 29, from 9-10:15 a.m. each day.

This clinic focuses on proper skating technique and the skills necessary to play hockey well. The cost for all three days of the clinic is $75 for Brattleboro residents, $90 for non-residents. The fee for one day is $25 for Brattleboro residents. $35 for non-residents.

To register for either clinic, call the Recreation & Parks Office at 802-254-5808, or stop by their office at 207 Main St., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m.

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