Final four beckons for boys hockey team2/26/09

Feb. 26, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The second-seeded Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team was speeding around the ice at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Arena on Wednesday night, hoping to put down sixth seeded Spaulding High of Barre for the second time in 10 days and advance to Saturday night’s Division 1 championship game.


    Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Champlain Valley Union High senior captain Ben Soll (right) works the offensive boards during the Redhawks’ 4-2 playoff win over Burlington High on Saturday.

On Feb. 14 in Barre, the 12-6-3 Redhawks laid a 5-0 licking on the 11-9-1 Crimson Tide. Spaulding had nipped the Hawks 2-1 at Cairns Arena earlier in the season.

Winner of the Wednesday’s contest, which was played after press deadline, got the ticket to Saturday night’s title test at Gutterson. The opponent will be the winner of Wednesday’s match between Essex High (13-6-2) and Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans (12-8-1).

As CVU coach Doug Hopper has warned, “The division is evenly matched this year.”

The Redhawks swarmed past seventh-seeded Burlington High 4-2 on Saturday at Cairns to earn the spot in the semifinals.

It was seniors who found the net, as Brady DeHayes scored twice while classmates Ben Soll and Sam Spencer also collected goals.

The Redhawks had their wings flapping early on, cruising around the Burlington cage in the first eight minutes of the game, but only DeHayes could sneak the puck past Seahorse goalie Justin Delibac. Kyle Logan and blue liner Owen Smith set up Dehayes.

But for Delibac and fate, the Redhawks might have had at least two more counters in that initial eight minutes. A hard slap shot by Wes O’Brien clanged off a goal post and a scampering Robbie Dobrowski was denied point blank opportunities three times in the first five minutes.

Having out-shot Burlington 13-4 in the first period, CVU took a 1-0 edge into the second reel, only to see the Seahorses tie it with 8:05 left when Jackson Danbridge poked in a rebound past Hawks’ net minder Mark Albertson.

CVU then essentially put the game away in the final 3.5 minutes of the middle stanza.

Spencer sped down the right side and deftly passed left to Soll, who laced the puck into the Burlington net to put the Red and White up 2-1 with 3:19 remaining.

A minute and 14 seconds later, Smith uncorked a blast from out front that rebounded to DeHayes in front of the cage. The well-positioned forward alertly nudged the puck past Delibac.

Spencer put CVU up 4-1 in the final canto before Burlington got a late tally by Steven Ushakov.

Smith, as did many others, had a solid two-way game for the Redhawks with two assists and expert work on defense, where at least once he broke up dangerous BHS’ two-on-one runs in the CVU defensive zone.

Albertson had 13 saves in the CVU cage.

Burlington ended its season with a 10-11 mark.