HIGHGATE – After the first period of play during Wednesday’s game against Lyndon, it seemed the Missisquoi boys’ hockey team was destined for an easy win.
Although the final score might look like it was a comfortable win, it was anything by for the Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds saw a three-goal third period lead shrink down to one with the Vikings swinging all the momentum to their side.
Missisquoi buckled down with a couple of big saves from Logan LaBelle down the stretch and a huge goal from Mitchell Boudreau on a breakaway sealed the win, as the team came away with a 6-3 victory.
“I think (Lyndon) making it a game late is more about what we weren’t doing than anything,” said Missisquoi coach Chris Hatin. “We stopped playing like a team for a little bit and started to play with a let me do it on my own mentality and that almost cost us. When it got to 4-3, the team rose above the adversity and understood it would have to be a team effort to come away with the win.”
With the Thunderbirds up 3-1 early in the third period, Jordan Vorse picked up what ended up being the game-winning goal on an assist by Braylen Parent to make it 4-1 at the time. What seemed like a sure lead was anything but, as the Vikings wouldn’t go away without a fight.
A pair of goals from Krystof Vanek made the game 4-3 with over six minutes to go in the game.
With both teams trading chances, LaBelle (19 saves) came up with big saves on point blank shots to keep the lead for the Thunderbirds.
“With a young goaltender, he was coming out in his first game of the season, he wanted to play well himself,” said Hatin. “(LaBelle) showed he can stand tall in the big moments of games.”
The big saves set up the opportunity for the Thunderbirds to seal the game. On their fourth powerplay of the game, the Thunderbirds finally capitalized on the opportunity.
Brendan Bessette picked up a loose puck in his own zone and sent a perfect tape-to-tape pass to a streaking Boudreau, who got behind the Lyndon defense.
Boudreau made a move on the goalie, who tried to sprawl to cover the net, but Boudreau lifted the puck over his pads for the goal and to give his team a 5-3 lead with just over a minute to go. The Thunderbirds added an empty netter to secure the 6-3 win.
“That kind of goal is something that we need to see throughout games,” said Hatin. “We need to work together to make something happen, and that’s exactly what happened on Mitchell’s goal.”
Missisquoi started strong right out of the game with two goals from Ian Walsh in the first three minutes of the game.
Just 49 seconds into the game, Braylen Parent skated the puck in the zone and sent a pass across the net to Walsh, who buried it for the early lead. Two minutes later, Bessette took a slapshot from the point that was deflected perfectly by Walsh for the 2-0 lead.
Boudreau added a goal late in the first off an assist by Parent to make it a 3-0 lead.
“Those goals were our typical hard-work goals where you get the puck in, make the good passes and finish out the goal,” said Hatin. “That’s exactly what we wanted to see with the teamwork and those are the results that come from hard work and playing as a team.”
After a scoreless second, the Vikings turned it on to begin the third period. Jonno Young picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired a wrist shot top shelf to get the Vikings on the board.
After Vorse’s goal made it 4-1, Vanek scored two goals in almost the exact same fashion. Anders Mortensen carried the puck in the zone and dropped off the puck to Vanek and took the defense away from the puck. That left Vanek wide open in the slot for both his goals and to make it an excited 4-3 game.
LaBelle’s big saves and Boudreau’s late goal sealed the game from there.
It was a good test for the Thunderbirds, who know they can’t take the foot off the pedal and get away from playing their game like they did on Wednesday again.
They improved to 2-1 on the season and will look to continue to play well when they travel to Northfield on Saturday.
“The unity and heart of this team through three games has really impressed me,” said Hatin. “Everybody is close on the team and the mentality is all about how we can make each other better every time we hit the ice. Going forward we just have to make sure that we stick to our gameplan throughout the entire game no matter what the score, because like we saw tonight, a game can change real quick.”