The Brattleboro Colonels boys' hockey team won its home opener, a wild 6-4 victory over the St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers at Withington Rink on Dec. 7.
How wild? The Colonels had to overcome seven penalties, including a game misconduct. They had to weather a long 5-on-3 power play in the second period before scoring three shorthanded goals, including two in the final minute of play, to nail down the win.
The Hilltoppers were not exactly choir boys in this game, as they racked up five penalties and were just as hard-nosed as the Colonels almost every step of the way.
With all the penalties, Colonels head coach Eric Libardoni said his first line of left winger Anthony Palomba, center Mason Foard, and right winger Ernie Antonucci never got a chance to play together for long.
It was up to the second line of Jack Pattison, Gavin Howard, and Will Taggard. They did nearly all the damage, both on offense and especially on the penalty kill.
Despite all the time that the Colonels had someone in the penalty box, the Hilltoppers managed only one power play goal. Starting goalie Austin Wood kept his cool, especially during the 5-on-3 penalty kill, aided by the defensive tandems of Derek Parsons and Nathan Powers and Ryan Gerard and Joe Koes.
The game was a grinder from the opening face-off, but the Colonels got the first goal when Pattison scored the first of his three tallies of the night, set up by Foard, during a 4-on-4 attack with 2:59 left.
But the Colonels then committed the cardinal sin of giving up a goal in the final seconds of a period as Camden Ignjatovic chipped in an unassisted even-strength goal with 2.4 seconds left to tie the game at 1-all at the first intermission.
How would the Colonels respond after that lapse? It didn't look good when St. Johnsbury's Jeremy Reardon scored just 1:35 into the second period, assisted by Gabriel Salen and Gregor Vogel. But five seconds later, Palomba evened up the score with a goal set up by Foard.
Unfortunately for Brattleboro, what momentum they seemed to have was quickly wiped out by a parade of Colonels heading to the penalty box.
Adam McMahon got sent off for high sticking at the 10 minute mark, then Palomba got a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind. That earned him an ejection from the game and a seat for the Colonels' next game.
Presented with a 5-on-3 penalty kill, Brattleboro looked like they would escape without giving up a goal, but the 5-on-3 advantage got extended when Wood got assessed a roughing penalty. The Hilltoppers finally broke through when Nate Adams scored with 7:48 left in the second period. Vogel and Reardon got the assist.
Once again, the Colonels responded quickly and again tied the game. Still a man down, Howard, who served Wood's penalty, came out of the box and scored an unassisted shorthanded goal with 7:01 to play. Brattleboro rode that emotional lift the rest of the period, which ended at 3-all.
Coming out after the second intermission, the Colonels struck quickly as Pattison took a pass from Gerard and got the equalizer just 49 seconds into the third period. That one goal looked like it could be enough, but St. Johnsbury tied it up yet again. Vogel scored with Salen and Reardon assisting to make it 4-all.
Brattleboro picked up one last penalty, a roughing call on Parsons with 2:06 left in the game. Once again, it was up to the Colonels' penalty killing unit to save the day.
Pattison scored the game-winner on a breakaway with 49.5 seconds to play and, after the Hilltoppers pulled their goalie for an extra skater, Howard got an empty net goal set up by Taggard with 13.5 seconds left.
Colonel girls lose opener
• In a rematch of last year's Division II semifinal, the Brattleboro Colonels girls' hockey traveled north to face Missisquoi on Dec. 7 and lost, 9-1.
Brianna Jarvis and Brianna Parent each had three goals to lead the Thunderbirds. Haley Stefaniak had a goal and two assists and Emily Airoldi and Elizabeth Laroche also scored. Jarvis and Airoldi are both eighth-graders, an unusual sight on a varsity hockey team.
Olivia Romo had Brattleboro's only goal and goaltender Eliya Petrie made 22 saves.
The Colonels, who lost 2-1 to the Thunderbirds in last season's semifinal, have most of last year's squad back for the season, including their top six skaters on offense - Romo, Rosie Carignan, Sophia Mikijaniec, Edie Cay, Lila Alexander, and Juliana Miskovich.
Petrie and defenseman Tobin Lonergan, both seniors, anchor the Colonels' defense. Eugene Frost returns for his second year as head coach. Brattleboro will have its home opener on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Withington Rink.
Local players named to All-State teams
• Brattleboro senior defensive back Gus Williams was a first-team selection to the Burlington Free Press All-State boys' soccer team.
Williams led the Colonels' defense as this year's team tied a school record for wins (13) and reached the Division I semifinals for the first time in nine years.
Four other players received honorable mention - Twin Valley junior defensive back Izaak Park, Brattleboro senior midfielder Luke Williams, Leland & Gray junior midfielder Riley Barton, and Twin Valley senior midfielder Jack McHale.
• No local girls' soccer players made the Free Press All-State first team, but Leland & Gray senior midfielder Erin Bates received an honorable mention.
• The Vermont Interscholastic Football League recently announced its All-State teams, and there were plenty of Brattleboro and Bellows Falls players on the rosters.
First-team selections on offense included Brattleboro's Tyler Millerick at quarterback, Brattleboro's Chris Frost and BF's Jed Lober at running back, Brattleboro's Aaron Petrie at wide receiver, BF's Dylan Clark at tight end, and Brattleboro's Jem Cohen and Sam Fontaine and BF's Hunter Smith at the offensive line.
Brattleboro's Gavin Howard was a second-team selection at wide receiver. He was joined by his teammates, tight end Henry Thurber and lineman Tyler McNary. Honorable mentions went to BF quarterback Griffin Waryas, BF running back McGregor Vancor, and Brattleboro linemen Elijah Isham and Reed McKay.
On defense, Isham was a first-team selection as a defensive lineman, while Clark, Cohen, and Smith were all selected as linebackers and Millerick and BF's Jeb Monier were picked at defensive back. On special teams, Brattleboro kicker Reed Sargent and BF kick returner Jack Burke were first-team picks.
Brattleboro defensive lineman Timmy Velazquez was a second-team selection, along with McKay at linebacker, and Frost and Petrie at defensive back. Brattleboro's Alex Kendall was an honorable mention at linebacker.
Richards wins Jingle Bell Jog
• Fresh off her win in the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, Tammy Richards of Williamsville won another holiday race, taking the sixth annual Jingle Bell Jog on Dec. 7 in a time of 18 minutes, 49 seconds over the 5K course through downtown Brattleboro.
There were 42 runners in the race, which was presented by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce as part of its “Holly Days” festivities.
Senior bowling roundup
• Magic in Motion (46-24) went 5-0, while Crash & Burn (44-26) had a 1-4 week, as the teams again traded places in the standings after Week 14 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl.
There's now a four-way tie for third between Stayin' Alive, Whatevers, Ageless Wonders, and Us'ns (all 41-29), while The Drifters, Trash-O-Matic, and One Pointers (all 38-32) are now tied for fourth place, followed by Delayed Reaction (28-42), and Split Ends (23-47).
Jeanne Czuy had the women's high handicap game (275) and series (734). Gary Montgomery had the men's high handicap game (298) and series (647). Magic in Motion had the high team handicap game (909), while Delayed Reaction had the high handicap series (2,606).
In scratch scoring, Montgomery led the way with games of 268 and 205 on the way to a 647 series. Warren Corriveau Sr. had two 214 games and a 212 as part of his 640 series, while Robert Rigby had scores of 234, 203, and 191 as part of his 628 series.
Jerry Dunham also joined the 600-plus club as he rolled games of 213, 200, and 193 for a 606 series. Peter Cross had a pair of 208 games in his 577 series and Les Wigador had a 223 and a 191 in his 577 series. Fred Bump had a 192 game.
The women also were knocking down the pins as Czuy had the high scratch game (196) and series (497), while Doris Lake (191), Nancy Dalzell (186), Carole Frizzell (182), and Josie Rigby (181) all had at least one game of 180 or better.