BRATTLEBORO >> The 2015-16 hockey season is underway at all levels of the Brattleboro Hockey Association (BHA). BHA teams competing at the Mite (ages 6-8), Squirt (ages 9-10), Pee Wee (ages 11-12, and Bantam (ages 13-14) levels along with the U-14 Girls squad have completed the first month of play. Additionally, House League games are being played on Friday evenings at the Nelson Withington Skating Rink at Living Memorial Park.
Just after the Thanksgiving break, there's good reason for excitement: the Squirts and Pee Wees sit atop their respective divisions of the Greater Springfield (Massachusetts) League, a competitive, experienced set is skating for the U-14 Girls and a solid team has been assembled to bring Bantam hockey back to Brattleboro for the first time in two seasons. These results combined with the talent shown by the Novice, Mites, and House League skaters, as well as the strong showing by the Midgets/Pre-season High School team, indicate that Brattleboro hockey is on its way to another big year.
On the ice last weekend, the Mites Hawks played a fast-paced, up and down game against Nonotuck. The high-powered Hawk offense moved the puck well, allowing six different skaters to light the lamp. Evan Wright used his wicked wrister to great effect, notching five goals. Gabe Alexander did his best Patrick Kane impersonation by stick handling through crowds to score a pair. Evan Ahnert on the other hand took a more direct route to scoring, banging home two hard-fought, close range goals from the crease. Nick Fortier, Andy Cay and Alexander Dick rounded out the scoring with a goal each. More impressive than the scoring was the Hawks' puck movement. Dick sent a sweet cross ice pass to Cay for an exciting shot on goal. Later in the game, Ahnert sent Bella Fortier in alone on the Nonotuck goaltender and Fortier zipped a low shot just wide. Defensively, the Hawks were sound. Nico Conathan-Leach was outstanding in his first appearance as a goaltender. Alexandra Gregory and Jack Quarry contributed defensively, keeping the defensive zone crease clear of loose pucks. Coach Andy Dick called it "a great game for the Mite Hawks."
The Brattleboro Hawks Pee Wee team is off to a fast start in the new season, sitting comfortably in first place of the Greater Springfield League (GSL) North, with a record of 9 wins and 0 losses. The Pee Wees kept their unblemished record by beating previously perfect Nonotuck Black 5-2 on Saturday. The Hawks got on top early in the first as Will Taggard scored, completing a pretty tic tac toe passing play with linemates Brett Parsons and Jack Pattison. With time winding down in the first, Pattison buried a loose puck in front, staking the Hawks to a 2-0 lead. The big and fast Nonotuck Black squad, which entered the game undefeated with six wins, pushed back by scoring two goals to even the score. The surge was stymied by Darek Harvey's play in net and the mighty defense of Ethan Young and Lauren Carpenter and in the second period, the Hawks had the answer as Taggard fed Pattison for a 3-2 lead on a nice two-on-one rush. With their lead holding at 3-2, the Hawks put the game away midway into the third period as Pattison took a pass from Parsons, completing his hat trick. Aden McMahon went coast to coast before burying the dagger for Brattleboro.
At the Bantam level, the Hawks split a pair of rematch games with Ludlow (Massachusetts) Red and the Franklin County Hockey Association Green Wave (FCHA/Greenfield) last weekend. Winners in four of their last six contests, the Bantams concluded November play in the GSL with a 4-4-0 overall record. Playing their first home game of the season on Saturday morning at the Withington Arena, the Hawks lost a hard-fought contest to Ludlow 2-1. The same two teams had locked up in a tight game at Smead Arena in Springfield a week before, with the Hawks prevailing 3-2. Ludlow arrived north of the border ready for revenge, jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a power play blast from the left point midway through the first period. Gabe Heiden, Hawks leading scorer with nine goals in his first eight games as a Bantam, had an answer in the second period, scoring to tie the game at 1-1 on a sweet and saucy feed from Anthony Palomba. Despite strong showings by Brattleboro goaltenders Forrest Wohnus and Austin Wood, Ludlow was able to break the 1-1 tie with a third-period goal. The Hawks, despite pulling their goalie for the final minute of the game, were unable to get the equalizer.
On Sunday afternoon in Greenfield, the Hawks were come from behind winners at Collens-Moylan Arena, beating FCHA 2-1. The combination of physical play and puck movement helped the Bantams avenge their loss to FCHA the week before. After falling behind 1-0 in the first period, winger Jakob Curtiss tied the game on a pretty goal, set up by a fine cross–ice pass from defenseman Alex Hudon midway through the second. The game remained tied into the third until Tyler Higley, playing with a modified cast on his broken wrist, drew back and scored the game winner from the right circle, after receiving a tape-to-tape pass from Gabe Heiden. Heiden sent the puck across the slot from the the left side, after gaining possession on a well executed breakout, fed by Hudon, who recorded his second assist of game on the play. Austin Wood stood tall in the nets for the Bantams, receiving help from defenmen Hudon, Mason Foard, Ryan Gerrard and Nathan Powers.
On Sunday, the Brattleboro U14 girls ice hockey team took on the Western Massachusetts U14 Blizzards team. The matchup was highly anticipated by the Brattleboro team because they were soundly beaten by the Blizzard last season. The teams played an evenly matched first period, with both teams being held scoreless. Eliya Petrie anchored the team in the net for the first period and a half and was a wall, with many quality saves. The defensive teams of Juniper Dimatteo-Lepape/Jenna Powers and Lauren Carpenter/Nellie Tattersall played excellent stick on stick defense and cleared out any chances the Blizzard could muster. Brattleboro's Olivia Romo rushed the puck up the right wing multiple times in the second period to set up offensive chances. Susanna Cornman centered her line with brilliant stick handling out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone. May Yost had some quality shots from the left wing. The scoreless game was finally broken up by a strong shot from the point by Nellie Tattersall, which found its way past the Blizzard's goalie into the corner of the net. The Blizzard were able to put a puck in the net a short time later to tie the game at 1-1. The Brattleboro girls were not to be contained and answered with tremendous offensive pressure in front of the net by Edie Cay, Althea Champion, and Maggie Heneghan, with the end result being a puck in the back of the net to put Brattleboro on top 2-1 at the end of the second period. In the third period, despite tight defense and excellent goaltending by Jade Bruneau, the Blizzard were able to get two pucks in the net to give the Blizzards a 3-2 win. There were multiple offensive threats generated by the stick handling of Julianna Miskovich, a strong shot of Tobin Lonergan, and speed up the wing from Lila Alexander. The game was highlighted by the debut of Brattleboro's newest players, including Madison Ladzinski, Katie Inman, Willow Romo and Rosie Carignan. The coaches were assisted on the bench by able assistant Avery Hiner. The BHA will be hosting 14 teams in this season's Green Mountain Girls Tournament during the weekend of Jan. 9-10.