Mitch's Sports Report: U-32 Makes Epic Third Period Comeback To Win D-2 Boys' Hockey Title
With the memory of a two-goal lead blown in last year's semi-finals in their collective heads, the BFA-St. Albans boys' high school hockey team wasn't about to let history repeat itself.
Instead, the top-seeded Bobwhites retained their two goal advantage over rival Essex, and riding a twenty save shutout by goalie Ben Thibault, came away with a 2-0 victory and the division one hockey championship at Gutterson Fieldhouse last night.
Hunter Kirouac scored both goals for BFA, avenging last year's loss to Essex in the semi-final round when the Hornets scored four times in the third period to erase a two goal advantage. The state title is the Bobwhites' first since 2012.
Speaking of third period comebacks, the Raiders of U-32 delivered one of their one in the division two championship game and stunned their Raider counterparts from Stowe in a 3-2 win last night. U-32 trailed 2-0 heading into the third, but climbed back into the game getting one back on a power play, then tied the game when Lucas Eldred scored on a breakaway, and if that wasn't dramatic enough, Matt Hynes made sure the game would go down in U-32 lore by scoring the game winner with just under ninety seconds left to go in regulation. The game was an instant classic and solidifies both Raiders teams as the class of D-2. Between them, both programs have won four the last five state titles since 2012. Stowe's recent two-year reign as champs ends with the U-32 win, and U-32 regains the title it last held in 2012 and 2013.
To the pros, and for a fourth straight game the Boston Bruins found themselves going to overtime, losing 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes on a goal by Phillip Di Giueseppe, who put back a rebound after Tuukka Rask had stopped Jeff Skinner on a breakaway in the extra frame. The Hurricanes needed just ninety seconds to put this one away in overtime, controlling the puck for almost all of those ninety ticks of the clock and not allowing a shot on their own goal. Again, the Bruins found themselves struggling on home ice, after winning back to back games on the road against Florida and Tampa Bay, two playoff bound teams, while the Hurricanes are a very long shot to make the post season, especially after trading their number one center Eric Staal to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. Still, gaining one point in the standings for a regulation tie, the Bruins find themselves in sole possession of first place this morning in the Atlantic division, a consolation not likely to give them much solace in a game they probably should have found a way to win outright. The Bruins never led in the contest, and if not for some excellent work in goal by Tuukka Rask, who made several sparkling saves when the B's were down a goal and after they'd tied the game at two, that one regulation tie point would have been lost. Loui Eriksson scored for Boston to erase a 1-0 Carolina lead and after the Canes took a 2-1 lead into the third, nineteen-year old David Pastrnak tied things up with a bit of subterfuge you'd normally see from a savvy veteran. Collecting the puck to the right side of the Carolina goal, Pastrnak had a teammate streaking in from the high slot and one defender looking to block any pass. Pastrnak looked toward the slot with a subtle shoulder/head fake, just enough to make goalie Cam Ward think he was going to pass the puck, and as Ward moved slightly from the short side post to square up for a potential shot from the player moving into the slot, Pastrnak whipped a wrist shot into the gap left by Ward on the short side. Very pretty goal, and the reason the Bruins are in first place in the division, at least for now.
Scary moment in Montreal last night as the Canadiens played host to the Buffalo Sabres. The Habs' all-star defenseman P.K. Subban collided with his own teammate Alexei Emelin late in the third period and lay motionless on the ice for at least ten minutes, and the collective angst of the Montreal faithful was palpable among the hushed crowd at the Bell Centre as Subban was taken off the ice on a stretcher. The good news is Subban reportedly was able to move his extremities after being checked out at a local hospital for neck injuries, and he was able to communicate with teammates before he was taken off the ice. The Canadiens won the game 3-2 with Alex Galchenyuk scoring twice and Torey Mitchell adding another. Goalie Mike Condon made thirty-six saves for the in in net, and the Canadiens, for all their troubles this season, are now undefeated in their last eight home games and have moved into eleventh place in the eastern conference from thirteenth. They'd still need a big run to make the playoffs and if Subban is lost for any length if time that will be an even steeper hill to climb.
Tomorrow morning, the UVM mens' basketball team will take on top-seeded Stony Brook in the America East finals, with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line, and UVM's mens' hockey team will also be thinking upset as the Catamounts take on the top seed in Hockey East and the nationally ranked third seeded BC Eagles in the Hockey East quarterfinals.