ESSEX – With the team leading 3-0 early in the third period of Wednesday’s game at Essex, Isaac Cioffi rocketed a shot from the point that found the back of the net to give BFA-St. Albans boys hockey team a 4-0 lead and what looked like to be a nail in the coffin.
Things got much more interesting from there, as the Bobwhites were called for three penalties in the final four minutes of the game and Essex scored on all of them making it a 4-3 game in the blink of an eye.
The Bobwhites’ defense did just enough to not let up the tying goal and scored an empty netter to come away with a hard-fought 5-3 game.
“I thought we just lost our composure in the second and third period tonight,” said BFA coach Toby Ducolon. “We didn’t play smart and we got what we deserved toward the end tonight, and the only fortunate part is we didn’t come away with a loss.”
The Bobwhites were called for eight penalties in the game, including a five-minute boarding call in the second period. The Hornets only had three penalties in the game.
BFA killed off the first five penalties of the night, but the last three were the ones that made it interesting with Essex roaring back with its special teams.
“This is the second game in a row we have taken eight penalties,” said Ducolon. “You can’t do that against good teams and it cost us in our last game (2-1 loss to Spaulding) and we burned up our guys tonight from being on the penalty kill and lost all our momentum from the early lead, so we are lucky to come away with the win tonight. ”
The Bobwhites held a 3-0 lead early in the third period when Cioffi received a pass from the point and took a slapshot that broke through a lot of traffic in front of the net and in to give the Bobwhites a big cushion.
Essex started to rumble back with three power play goals in a two and a half minute span, but BFA goalie Dan Ellis made some key saves down the stretch and Connor Wood scored on an empty netter for the Bobwhites to come away with the win.
Ellis, a freshman, had a big game in net for the Bobwhites, as he made a number of key saves throughout the game to hold a shutout for the first 56-plus minutes. All three goals were on tough shots with Essex on the man advantage.
Ellis finished the game with 23 saves.
“I thought Ellis played very well and he was the reason we didn’t give up a goal until late in the game,” said Ducolon. “He’s only a freshman and he was our most composed player out there tonight. We put him in a bad situation with penalty after penalty, but I thought he did well handling that. For a young kid to do what he did this evening to hold a team in a game in this environment, is a great sign.”
The Bobwhites jumped out to a big 3-0 lead early in the first period and it didn’t seem like Essex had an answer for them.
Colby Brouillette got things started for BFA early, as a shot from the point was blocked by an Essex defender, but Brouillette was there to knock home the rebound for the early 1-0 lead.
BFA added to the lead with two goals late in the first period. Ethan Bonnette threw a puck toward the net and with a scramble in front of the net, Hayden Fersing found the loose puck and slipped it past Essex goalie Connor Schultz (23 saves).
With 18 seconds to go in the first frame, Brouillette took a shot that was deflected to the stick of teammate Zach Savage, who’s shot went five-hole to give the Bobwhites the 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
“I thought our puck movement was good and we generated some nice chances early on,” said Ducolon. “Offensively, we pinned them in their own zone pretty well.”
The Bobwhites were on the penalty kill for seven of the final 10 minutes of the second period, but neither team scored a goal as they took their 3-0 lead into the third period.
After Cioffi’s goal, Essex started to find some life. With 3:48 remaining in the game and Essex on a power play, Sam Couture threw a puck toward the net that was redirected forcing Ellis to change directions, but Jonah Janaro was there to shove the puck into the back of the net to give the Hornets a glimpse of life.
Just over a minute later and the Hornets on another power play, they took a slapshot from the point that was saved by Ellis, but the puck went straight to Ryan Young, who buried the open shot to make the score 4-2.
With a little over a minute to go and BFA again on the penalty kill, the Hornets got their third goal when Janaro redirected a shot in midair to send the home crowd into an uproar, as it came back to life.
In the final minute, Essex had three faceoffs in a row in the BFA zone, but Ellis was there to cover up the puck and give his team a shot at winning the faceoff and getting an empty netter by Wood to come away with a tight 5-3 win.
The Bobwhites improved to 2-1 with the win and will be back in action next Wednesday when it takes on CVU.
“It’s early in the season, but we have to play smarter going forward,” said Ducolon. “The effort is absolutely there and the intensity is there, but we just have to be smarter and make sure we aren’t taking all these penalties like we have been the last two games.”
— Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyLabor for live game stats and updates throughout the season.