Redhawks paint masterful victory3/5/09

Artistic goals propel CVU to Division 1 hockey title

March 5, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Great works of art are not only found in museums and galleries.


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Champlain Valley Union High’s Tim Reichert clinches the Division 1 championship by putting a backhand, breakaway goal past Essex goalie Evan Russell. For more photos, visit


    Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Robbie Dobrowski (4), a Champlain Valley Union High sophomore, tries to take the puck from a Spaulding High player during the Division 1 semifinal game on Feb. 25. The Redhawks had a 3-2, come from behind win that earned them a berth in the title match against Essex High.


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Brady DeHayes, a Champlain Valley Union High senior, skates past Essex forward Stevie Mone during the first period of the Division 1 championship at Gutterson Field House.

Last Saturday night, two artistic masterpieces of the hockey variety were observed at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House, a pair of goals that gave Champlain Valley Union High School its first Division 1 hockey title since 2002.

The 2-1 triumph over defending champion Essex High ended a three-year title run by the Hornets, including a 4-2 victory over the Redhawks in the 2008 crowning match.

The first canvas-eligible moment came eight minutes and 37 seconds into the first period. Senior forward Sam Spencer passed into Essex territory to senior line mate Ben Soll, who charged the Essex net, then cleverly dropped the puck behind him to trailing sophomore Robbie Dobrowski, who fired a hard shot into the upper right corner past screened Essex goalie Evan Russell.

“We worked on those screen goals all year,” CVU coach Doug Hopper said Monday. “It paid off in the big game.”

The next masterpiece came midway through the second period, some 2.5 minutes after Essex had tied the tense contest at 1-1.

Redhawks’ senior defenseman Chris Howard cleared the puck out of his zone to senior Tim Reichert at center ice. The quick moving Reichert zoomed alone into the Hornets’ end, deked with a forehand and at the last moment popped a backhand flip into the Essex net.

Impression: championship.

“That was an unbelievable pass that Howard made,” Hopper said of the play that proved to be the game-winner. He also noted that Howard and Reichert missed considerable playing time this season because of injuries.

It was Reichert’s fourth goal since getting back in the lineup at the end of the campaign. He injured an ankle in the first five minutes of the season-opener in early December.

After taking the lead for good, the Redhawks matched the defensive-minded Hornets at their own game with back-checking forwards helping stellar defensemen Howard, Owen Smith, Eric Robinson and Cully Millikin.

“Our defense was great in that final period,” Hopper said. “We held Essex to probably one quality shot.”

CVU’s senior goalie Mark Albertson had 15 saves in the game, seven in the closing reel. Russell made 14 stops for the Hornets.

CVU just missed a nerve-reducing third score early in the final period when a Wes O’Brien shot from 20 feet out clanged off the cross bar.

Two plays in the closing minute were emblematic of the CVU defensive work. Smith ended one Essex foray as he got his stick on the puck by the right corner of the Redhawks’ cage and charged with it to the Essex end. With 15 seconds to go, Soll dug the puck out of the right corner behind the CVU net and eluded scrambling Hornets to snap the disc out of the zone.

“This is incredible,” Soll, whom Hopper calls the soul of the team, told assembled media representatives after the game.

The lone Essex goal came when a shot deflected off a CVU skate and went to the stick of Essex junior Bryce Currier, who quickly fired a rising shot past Albertson from the right of the CVU net. Thomas Dvorak and Jacob Begnoche drew assists.

“CVU played well,” Essex coach Bill O’Neil said after the game. “They were the better team tonight.”

A prominent hand-painted sign in the front row of the CVU side of the field house in the Essex game summed up the sympathies of the numerous and loud supporters. “God, I love this team,” were the red words on the white cardboard.

The two clubs finished 1-1-1 against each other. Essex (14-7-2) won 1-0 in late December at the Hornets’ rink. The two tied 2-2 at Cairns Arena, when Albertson used his golden glove to snag an Essex shot out of the air at the buzzer that ended regulation time.

CVU finished the season at 14-6-3.

Comeback needed for title chance

After the first period in the semifinal match against Spaulding High of Barre last Wednesday night, it looked as if the future artisans might well be visiting museums last Saturday rather than playing for the title.

The Crimson Tide held a 2-0 lead at the first intermission after knocking the faster, deeper Redhawks off the boards and off their game for the first 15 minutes. It had been what Hopper called “our worst period of hockey all year. We were flatter than a pancake.”

But CVU regrouped and out shot Spaulding 17-6 over the final two periods to prevail 3-2.

The sophomore class took over the scoring chores for the Redhawks.

Kyle Logan put CVU on the board with an unassisted goal from point blank range in front of the Spaulding net at 9:19 of the second stanza.

The third period became Dobrowski time as the speedster popped home goals from crowded situations on front of the Tide net at 4:05 and 9:41, with Soll assisting on both.

“That second goal was Robbie’s career 50th point,” Hopper said, adding that Spencer drew his 50th point on the first period assist in the championship game while Soll got his 57th on the same tally.

“Somebody after the game said you coaches must have really chewed them out between the first and second period against Spaulding,” Hopper said. “We didn’t. We just reminded them that they could and had to play better to make the championship game and gave a few suggestions. Then the team went out and did it.”