Feb. 12, 2009
By Mal Boright
“We could finish anywhere from first to sixth,” a prognosticating Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey coach Doug Hopper said on Tuesday, speaking about seedings for the upcoming Division 1 playoffs.
Hopper’s Redhawks were looking ahead to the final two games of the regular season: Wednesday at Rutland, set to be played after press deadline, and Saturday at 4:15 in Barre against Spaulding High.
In previous matches, the Redhawks trimmed Rutland 8-1 at Cairns Arena in late December. CVU lost to Spaulding at home, 2-1, on Jan. 10.
“These games are very big,” Hopper said. “We have a bit of control in that if we win both we could finish second in the (postseason) pairings.”
The CVU coach said defending Division 1 champion Essex High is likely to get the top seed, “but you never know. It is an interesting league this year.”
Typical of the league’s balance is that the 9-6-3 Redhawks went to Rutland on Wednesday with two straight losses on their resume. Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, a team they tied earlier in the campaign, shut them out 2-0 last Wednesday at Cairns.
On Saturday, also at Cairns, Colchester High popped the Hawks 3-1. This after CVU bumped off the Lakers twice earlier in the campaign.
“Colchester played a great game against us,” said Hopper. “But our guys did get their energy back with a solid third period.”
Sam Parent got the lone CVU goal, with an assist from Brady DeHayes.
Hopper is hoping that a slew of injuries that has plagued the Redhawks is over.
Defensemen Peter Levack, Eric Robinson and Chris Howard, as well as forward Ben Soll, have all been out, but all are just back or should be ready for the playoffs.
In addition, forward Tim Reichert is just returning to playing shape after missing most of the season with an ankle injury.
“I have not seen anything like this,” said Hopper. “There has not been a game, except for the first five minutes of the opener, when we had everybody in good health.”
Reichert went down with the angry ankle in that late November opening game.
The coach recalled only one injury last year that cost a player any time on the ice.
The playoff quarterfinal round opens a week from Saturday.