Thursday January 10, 2013

BRATTLEBORO-- The Brattleboro boys hockey team has made a habit of wreaking havoc on teams that enter Nelson Withington rink. And that story didn’t change Wednesday night as the Colonels crushed St. Johnsbury Academy, 5-0.

Eric Libardoni’s squad has yet to be beaten at home so far in this young season.

Brattleboro went to work right away, with great puck movement and physical checking. Nik Rancourt’s speed has carried over from game to game, creating chances and making plays. The captain of the Colonels, Philip Perkins, attacked the St. Johnsbury forwards in the first period and helped with the forechecking. Midway through the first, it was equal play physically between each team, but BUHS continued to have more chances offensively. It was safe to say it was a physical game, and the first period certainly showed it.

"We played a good team game," coach Libardoni explained, "Defensively, we limited their shots and played well."

The Colonels defense led to their first goal of the night with 3:08 left in the first, thanks to Adam Griffin’s wrist shot up front in traffic. The goal came after coach Libardoni asked from the bench for more shots and chances. By the end of the first period, Brattleboro had controlled the puck but was equally physical with St. Johnsbury. The Colonels went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.

BUHS started the second period on the penalty kill from a roughing penalty. The Colonels were more physical and better with puck management during the kill. St. Johnsbury was not productive at all during the power play, and Brattleboro took advantage of it. While on the kill, BUHS had good passing and chances up front on St. Johnsbury goaltender Ben Greenstein. As the Colonels continued to take shots and create plays, the puck seemed to keep bouncing by Greenstein for much of the second period. Those chances paid off with 14 seconds left when Andy Harris had a great five-hole goal thanks to a beautiful pass from senior forward Jimmy Podlaski. Brattleboro had a 2-0 lead after two periods, mainly for being more efficient with the puck and playing well on both ends of the ice.

The Colonels continued to be more creative with the puck in the third period. As more chances came in the face of Greenstein, a goal was inevitable for BUHS. With 13:32 left in the game, freshman forward Evan Perkins scored on a sprawling Greenstein to make it 3-0 Colonels. Being down three, St. Johnsbury began to become resurgent on offense, taking more shots on junior goaltender Greg DiSilva.

"Greg played great in the third period," coach Libardoni said, "Our defense helped him out with fewer chances."

Harris wasn’t done -- another great five-hole backhander while the Colonels were shorthanded put the hosts up 4-0. St. Johnsbury never was organized or efficient on the power play, while BUHS made more opportunities to score. When Brattleboro gave St. Johnsbury opportunities with power plays, DiSilva didn’t give in. That was shown when St. Johnsbury had multiple chances upfront, but DiSilva stood on his head and made multiple great saves.

The offense continued to role with 3:46 left, when speedy Rancourt made a great wrap-around goal and sealed the victory for the Colonels, making it 5-0. Brattleboro played well in all three phases of the game, and in each period. The Colonels are now 3-0 at home this season, thanks to DiSilva’s consecutive shutouts.

"Offensively, we still need to get better and get quality shots," noted coach Libardon. "We’re not the most skilled team in the league so getting quality shots is always a problem. We had guys play hard all night, and I thought in the third we really played well."

The Colonels are now 8-1 on the season and DiSilva has made it much easier with four shutouts on the year.

"It’s good to see Greg competing even when we’re up 4-0. That’s a big thing," said Libardoni.

The Colonels certainly haven’t been distracted during this successful season, as they continue to come out in big games and win big.

"I have seniors who have a bigger goal in mind," coach Libardoni noted on his team’s focus. "Their goal is to win a state championship."

The Colonels will next host Milton on Saturday at 4:45 p.m.