By Mal Boright
As the singer Meatloaf has melodiously stated, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
Well, three out of six ain’t bad either, especially when Vermont Division 1 hockey titles are the subject.
Their 4–2 crowning victory over Essex High at the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gym last Thursday night (March 6) came in the Redhawks’ sixth appearance in the last seven championship contests and was their third title in the last six.
“They played well,” said coach Mike Murray outside a locker room filled with cheering champs after the game.
The victory put the Redhawks’ season record at 20–1–2, which is a team record for wins in a season, according to former CVU head coach Doug Hopper.
Essex, which finished 15–6–1, came to the big contest having bowed at CVU’s home Cairns Arena ice 5–1 in mid–January, but had held the Hawks to a scoreless deadlock in the regular season’s final contest at the Hornets’ nest.
The Redhawks unleashed their waves of attackers right from the outset, outshooting the Hornets 11–4 in the first period and lighting the lamp with four minutes to go in the period when freshman Thomas Samuelson deked his way past a couple of defenders and launched a goal from 12 feet out.
“That’s really what got us going,” said senior captain and defenseman Alex Bulla who had an assist on the tally along with forward Ryan Keelan.
After that, as the game rolled into the second period, it was the CVU defensemen who took over the point production.
Sophomore Drew Pitcher and junior Kaleb Godbout rocketed home scores from just inside the blue line to put CVU up 3–0 by the start of the final reel.
“It was a good night on the point shooting the puck,” Godbout said with a smile.
But Essex was far from finished and proved it early in the closing stanza.
Just 29 seconds into the period, the Hornets’ Jacob Gaboriault unloaded a hard shot from the blue line that got Essex on the board and renewed vigor for the Blue and Gold.
Both goalies Greg Talbert for CVU and Essex’ Brock Paquette made challenging stops—Paquette’s off CVU’s Cam Rivard—before the Redhawks went up 4–1 with 9:09 left. Bulla charged down the left side of the rink, looped around in the offensive zone and sent as perfect pass to junior forward Elliott Mitchell five feet in front of the net and he popped in the picture score that pretty much sealed the deal.
The teams continued their offensive back–and–fourth play with the Hornets scoring on Jonathan Palmer’s power play goal with 3:10 remaining to close the point making.
Talbert finished with 25 saves, 21 in the closing two periods. Essex’ netminder tandem of Erik Short (first two periods) and Paquette combined for 34 stops.
Essex had seven seniors in uniform while CVU had five.
Godbout led the Redhawks with seven shots on goal while Keelan and Patrick Pattison each fired six. Bulla had two assists. Pattison, Hoyt McCuin and Keelan each had one helper.
Just two penalties in the contest and both two minute stops in the cooler on CVU players in the final seven minutes.
Junior Zachariah Godin, a force all night, led Essex with six shots at Talbert.