The Brattleboro boys' ice hockey team got off to a rough start, but they are starting to pull things together.
On Dec. 20 at Withington Rink, the Bears lost in overtime to the Amherst-Pelham (Mass.) Hurricanes, 3-2. Even though it was a loss, coach Eric Libardoni was happy with the effort.
This was a game where both coaches had a legitimate beef with the officiating. There were 17 penalties in the game - nine for the Bears and seven for the Hurricanes - but perhaps the screwiest call came with 5:03 left in the game with the Bears hanging on to a 2-1 lead.
After Bears goaltender James Fagley stopped an Amherst shot, he held on to the puck expecting play to be stopped for a face-off. Instead, Grahm Arguin was able to knock in the puck and tie the game. The Hurricanes then won it with 1:01 left in overtime with a goal from Benjamin Remensnyder.
"There were two teams playing a very competitive and evenly matched game, and unfortunately the third team [the referees] interfered with that happening," Libardoni said after the game. "It's unfortunate that's how the game played out. I thought it was a great hockey game. I thought both teams played hard. I thought the goalies were both good. James (Fagley) was phenomenal. We got a lot better since our last game and if we continue to make improvements like that, we'll be a good team."
Brattleboro took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Evan Wright at 4:59 of the first period, assisted by Andy Cay and Alex Dick. The Bears pushed the lead to 2-0 when Miskovich scored on a 5-on-3 power play, with assists from Wright and Carter Mialkowski, with four seconds left in the period.
That power play continued into the start of the second period, but great goaltending by Amherst's Spencer McDonald kept the Bears from cashing in. Brattleboro managed to kill off all but one of Amherst's power plays, the lone exception coming in early in the third period when John Dyiach scored with just two seconds left on the man-advantage.
On Dec. 23 in Rutland, the Bears played another overtime game but, this time, they came away with a 2-2 draw.
After Brattleboro's Rowan Lonergan scored on the Bears' first shot of the game less than a minute into the first period, neither team was able to score until the third period, when Rutland's Greg Olson tied the game with 11:45 left in regulation. Wright later put the Bears back in front with a short-handed goal, assisted by Cay, but Rutland, still on the power play, got the equalizer from Ethan Wideawake, about a minute later. Fagley made 19 saves in goal for the Bears.
The Bears then got their first win with a 5-4 home victory over St. Johnsbury on Dec. 27, and lost a road game to Woodstock, 4-0, on Dec. 30 to enter the new year with a 1-3-2 record.
• St. Johnsbury finished strong in a 66-50 win over visiting Brattleboro on Dec. 27. Clinging to a 30-28 halftime lead, the Hilltoppers took advantage of a cold spell by the Bears' offense to pull away with a 15-4 run in the third quarter. Kate Pattison was the Bears' leading scorer with 13 points, with Reese Croutworst and Abby Henry each adding 12 points. Anna Ebert led the Hilltoppers with 12 points.
Against Hartford on Dec. 30 at the BUHS gym, the Bears slumped early in the fourth quarter but battled back, only to fall short in a 48-45 loss to the Hurricanes. The Bears led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter before Hartford heated up in the second quarter and took a 16-13 halftime lead.
The game stayed close in the second half, but Hartford held on to a 30-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Brattleboro trailed by as many as seven points, 38-31, with five minutes to play, but Charlotte Jasmin scored eight of her game-high 25 points in the final quarter and Haley Vanasse added seven more to give Hartford the win.
Croutworst scored 21 points, with four three-pointers, to lead the Bears. Pattison scored 10 points, eight of them in the second half. Henry had a pair of three-pointers during the Bears' fourth quarter rally, while Croutworst scored eight points in the final minutes.
Now 2-3, the Bears will be back in action on Jan. 6 against South Burlington.
• Leland & Gray headed into the holiday break with a 46-24 win over Twin Valley on Dec. 19. Maggie Parker led the Rebels with 24 points and Mary Sanderson added 10 points as Leland & Gray built up a 20-9 lead by halftime and went on a 13-3 run to open the third quarter to put the game away. Kate Oyer led the Wildcats with 12 points.
On Dec. 28 in Arlington, the Rebels lost to the Eagles, 27-22. Defense ruled the night in this game as Parker had nine blocked shots, but Arlington's Sydney Herrington still managed to score 18 points. Leland & Gray's Samantha Morse scored 10 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. The Rebels enter the new year with a 2-5 record.
• Bellows Falls lost on the road to Windsor, 58-40 on Dec. 19, but bounced back with a pair of home wins - a 44-14 victory over Leland & Gray on Dec. 22 and a 52-43 win over Poultney on Dec. 28. Veronica Moore had 10 points and Abby Nystrom and Delaney Lockerby added nine points apiece to lead BF to the victory over Poultney that improved the Terriers' record to 4-1.
• After a 65-22 loss at home to White River Valley on Dec. 21, Twin Valley got a much-needed break in the schedule. The 0-5 Wildcats are at Arlington on Jan. 6.
• After a 77-50 road loss to White River Valley on Dec. 27, Bellows Falls got back on track with a 58-47 win over the Woodstock Wasps on Dec. 29 at Holland Gymnasium.
This game started out close, but BF gradually pulled away in the second quarter and led 33-27 at the half. A 17-6 burst in the third quarter, keyed by strong defense by the Terriers, put the game out of reach for the Wasps.
"We got bumped by WRV, but we put in a more consistent effort tonight," said BF coach Evan Chadwick.
Colby Dearborn scored 18 points in the first half and finished with 20 points to lead the Terriers. Jaxon Clark added 14 points and Jesse Darrell chipped in 12 points as BF improved to 4-2 on the season.
• Brattleboro was upset by Otter Valley, 64-52, on Dec. 27 at the BUHS gym. The Division II Otters got 18 points from Connor Dennis and 14 points from Logan Letourneau. The Bears were led by Keagan Systo, who scored 20 points, while John Haskins scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half.
The Bears traveled to Rutland on Dec. 29 and lost 82-54 to drop their record to 2-5. Systo scored 11 points in the loss, while John Satterfield added 10 points and Karson Elliot had nine points.
• Brayden Brown scored 24 points as Twin Valley edged Poultney, 47-45, on Dec. 23. Noah Dornbaugh added 21 points on seven three-pointers for the visiting Wildcats, while Peyton Book had 15 points for Poultney. Twin Valley improved to 4-1 and will host Bellows Falls on Jan. 4 in a rematch of the Green Mountain Holiday Tournament championship game.
• Leland & Gray closed out December with a 63-56 loss to Long Trail School on Dec. 20 and an 80-38 loss to Grace Christian School on Dec. 29 to fall to 2-4.
• A soggy December resulted in the cancellation of the first three meets of the season for the Brattleboro Nordic team.
"All of our races to date have been cancelled due to lack of snow," coach Amanda Dixon wrote in an email last week. "Fingers crossed the new year brings some winter our way."
Weather permitting, the Bears have a skate race scheduled for Jan. 4 at Mountain Top Resort in Chittenden and classic races on Jan. 8 at Prospect Mountain in Woodford and Jan. 26 at the Brattleboro Outing Club's course at Brattleboro Country Club.
Dixon said the Brattleboro Nordic team has 23 high school skiers and 3 middle school skiers this season.
"The boys team is made up of a strong contingent of returning skiers led by seniors Gabriele Jeppesen-Belleci, Oliver Herrick, and Eben Wagner," she said. "Names to watch this season are sophomores Nico Conathan-Leach and Willow Sharma, as well as junior Desmond Longsmith. On the girls team, the names to watch are senior Katherine Normandeau, sophomore Maeve Bald, and freshman Maayan Coleman."
• The winless Brattleboro girls continue to struggle. On Dec. 20, they started a stretch of five consecutive road game with a 12-0 loss to Hartford.
On Dec. 23, the Bears were shut out by Stowe, 9-0, and fell to Woodstock, 8-0, on Dec. 29.
Senior bowling roundup
• The fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl ended on Dec. 28 with Four Seasons and No Splits (both 53-32) sharing the league championship. Stepping Stones (51-34) was second, followed by Hairiers (48-37), Skippers and High Rollers (both 46-39), Four Pins (43-42), Dumbledor (39-46), and PEWJ (35-50).
Vicki Butynski had the women's high handicap game (235), while Mary Parliman had the high handicap series (638). Stan Kolpa had the men's high handicap game (259) and Lonnie Cantrell had the high handicap series (682). Dumbledor had the high team handicap game (865), while Hairiers had the high handicap series (2,494).
Robert Rigby had the men's high scratch series (592) featuring games of 213 and 209. Peter Deyo had a 540 series with games of 190 and 183, Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 549 series with a 216 game, Milt Sherman had a 534 series with a 194 game, Wayne Randall had a 515 series with a 182 game, and John Walker had a 513 series with a 182 game. Stan Kolpa had a 193 game, Fred Ashworth had a 189 game, and Rick Westcott had a 180 game.
Pam Greenblott had the women's high scratch series (480) and game (175). Butynski had a 165 game, while Carol Gloski had a 160 game.
Randolph T. Holhut, deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column since 2010 and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at [email protected].
This Sports column by Randolph T. Holhut was written for The Commons.