The last time the BFA-St. Albans boys hockey team lost a game was on Jan. 7 when it had a rough outing against South Burlington where penalties hurt the team all game long.
The Bobwhites made sure that didn’t happen again on Wednesday when they played disciplined hockey and pressured the Rebels’ net all game long.
BFA had 35 shots on goal throughout the game, but had trouble getting much past the pads of South Burlington goalie Zach Munson.
But the Bobwhites did just enough to come away with a 2-1 win, as they improved to 11-0-2 over their last 13 games, including 10 wins in a row.
“We definitely did a good job getting pucks on net, but the finish wasn’t quite there,” said BFA coach Toby Ducolon. “I think a little had to do with us, but also had something to do with (Munson). He played real well out there.”
“We have improved a lot throughout the season since that loss to South Burlington,” he added. “Skills have improved, decision-making has improved, leadership has improved. We are pretty solid right now, and the biggest thing for us is to stay healthy.”
After South Burlington tied the game up with just over five minutes remaining in the second, the Bobwhites had a quick answer.
With just over a minute left in the second period, Zach Savage picked up a loose puck in the left circle and ripped a wrist shot through traffic and fit it just over Munson’s shoulder and under the crossbar to put the team up 2-1. Isaac Cioffi and Collin Manahan picked up the assists on the goal.
From there, the Bobwhites defense held strong and only allowed five shots to reach goalie Dan Ellis (17 saves) the rest of the game.
BFA had pressure on Munson all game long, but it took a bit for the team to figure out how to get the puck into the back of the net. The South Burlington senior had quick pad saves, and the defense did a good job clearing any rebounds.
The Bobwhites finally figured things out with just over five minutes remaining in the first. Jake Hall put a perfect outlet pass up the boards to Connor Wood, who beat his defender skated the puck around a sprawling Munson and tucked it to the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Owen Deslauriers also picked up an assist on the goal.
“The chip off the wall from Jake Hall was very good to get that play started,” said Ducolon. “And the finish from Connor was good, so you can’t get much better than what they put together there.”
The score would stick until the five minute mark of the second period. In the midst of their best period of the night offensively, the Rebels finally found an answer when Michael Flaherty won a faceoff in BFA’s zone and James Patrick fired a wristshot over Ellis’ glove to knot the game up.
The tie didn’t last long before Savage found the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal.
It was a good, hard-fought game for the Bobwhites, who haven’t been in a one-goal game since a 2-1 win over Spaulding on Jan. 25. Since then, only one team has played the Bobwhites to within two goals and every other game has been won by three goals or more.
“We definitely needed battle of a game like we had tonight,” said Ducolon. “We will have a battle in our last regular season game, and when we get to the quarterfinals, it’s going to be a battle no matter who we play, so tonight was a good test for us. We haven’t had a game like this in a while, and it was almost like a playoff game out there tonight.”
The Bobwhites improved to 14-2-3 with the win and finish out the regular season on Saturday when they host Essex.
After starting out with a 4-0 lead in the first meeting against Essex, the Bobwhites had a scare after the Hornets made it 4-3 late in the third period before an empty netter gave BFA the two-goal early season win.
“We just have to maintain things on Saturday,” said Ducolon. “We have to continue to do what we are doing, stay focused and stay healthy heading into playoffs.”