By Mal Boright
The unbeaten Champlain Valley Union High boys’ hockey team was in Barre to meet 2-6-4 Spaulding High Wednesday night, its second contest of the season with the Crimson Tide. The Redhawks took the first encounter 6-1 at their home Cairns Arena.
Coach Mike Murray’s 10-0-1 combine will encounter 8-3 Colchester High Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cairns for the third time this winter, owning 2-1 and 4-1 victories in the previous affairs.
Last Saturday afternoon, the ‘Hawks humbled 8-3 Essex High 5-1. It was their initial collision of the campaign with the always-contending Hornets, who came to Cairns with a six-game winning streak in tow.
After emerging from the first stanza with a 1-1 tie, the Redhawks scored the final four goals of the game and held Essex to but 11 shots on goalie Greg Talbert over the final two periods.
Murray said his defense “did a good job” in making sure Essex players’ shots were not “meaningful.”
Senior Will Bernicke, who opened the contest with a slick move through the Essex defense for a goal with just a minute and 10 seconds gone in the first period, added his second score late in the second reel on a tip in from a group grope in front of the Hornets’ cage.
Defensemen Oscar Kelly and Alex Bulla assisted.
That was a key tally in that it put CVU up 3-1 and left Essex in extremis.
The coup de grace came on third period goals by Ryan Keelan and Cam Rivard.
Freshman Thomas Samuelsen claimed the go-ahead score, putting the Redhawks up 2-1 with 3:40 gone in the second period. Keelan and Rivard assisted.
Essex’s lone score came less than a minute after Bernicke’s first period how-do-you-do shocker (to the Hornets). Senior co-captain Steve Morse knocked the puck past Talbert from out of a crowd in front of the CVU net.
“I lost sight of it,” said Talbert of the elusive puck.
The Redhawks outshot Essex 25-18, owning a solid edge in play over the final two periods. CVU penalty killers were very effective holding Essex from taking a shot on Talbert in two of the three shorthanded situations.
“We work on being aggressive to the puck,” Murray said of the man-down situations.
“The defense makes my job easier,” added Talbert.
The goalie’s magic mitt snapped a couple of Essex hard shots out of the air among his 17 stops.