BRATTLEBORO >> After an undefeated regular season, the Brattleboro Squirts hockey team played an early morning semifinal game of the Greater Springfield League playoffs at Olympia Skating Arena in Springfield, Mass.
The 4th seeded Pioneer Valley Lightning came at the Hawks hard and Brattleboro found itself down by a score of 1-0 at the end of the first period. In the second period, Brattleboro found its scoring touch with four goals. Will Miskovich started the rally after a very nice diving defensive play by Nick Gerard to keep the puck in the Pioneer Valley zone. Leo Bodett then netted two quick goals, assisted by Will Hill and Will Miskovich. The final goal of the period was scored by Emmett Smith and was unassisted. In the third period, Brattleboro settled in and continued with its high level of play. Bodett scored the first of the period to complete the hat trick. Matthew Gordon-Macey, Will Hill and Emmett Smith each scored unassisted to cement the 8-2 win. The Brattleboro defense, consisting of Bryce Boyd-Tucker, Alix Dumont, Marina Wilson, Nick Gerard and Rowan Lonergan, once again rose to the occasion. Kyle Hamilton was between the pipes for the game and made several nice saves.
Later in the day, the Squirts played in the championship game against second seeded Holy Name. There would be no denying Brattleboro in this game. BHA came out flying. Lighting the lamp a mere 20 seconds into the game, Will Hill scored three goals in the period for the hat trick. These goals were assisted by Leo Bodett (2) and Will Miskovich. There was only one goal in the second period, scored by Bodett and assisted by Hill. Nick Gerard played in net for this game and contributed with some nice saves. Brattleboro finished the game with a strong third period and goals by Hill, Bodett and Matthew Gordon-Macey helped them to a 7-2 win.
The Brattleboro Squirts have completed a 26-0 undefeated season and won the Greater Springfield League Championship. This is the first GSL Cup for the BHA since the legendary season of the 2010 Squirt team.
The 2015-16 Squirts were coached by Craig Miskovich, David Gerard, Jill Turner-Dumont and Mark Hamilton.
Brattleboro Pee Wee Hawks, who also went undefeated in the regular season, took to the ice in West Springfield on Saturday as the No. 1 seed.
In the semifinals, the Hawks faced Holy Name Green in a very tough battle as Holy Name was flying and creating a lot of pressure on the Hawks throughtout the back and forth contest. Holy Name took a 1-0 lead before Jack Pattison set up Will Taggard for the equalizer. Holy Name scored again for a 2-1 lead, before Brett Parsons deflected an Ethan Young shot to tie it. Once again, Holy Name took the lead at 3-2 only to see the resilient Hawks tie it again as Parsons set up Young for the third Hawks' goal. The see-saw battle came to an end with eight seconds left in the tilt as the Hawks took advantage of an offensive zone faceoff. Taggard won the draw toward Alex Palomba who quickly dished the puck back to defenseman Jack Rockefeller. With all the Hawks forwards storming the net for a rebound, the Rockefeller wrister found the back of the net and gave the Hawks a hard fought 4-3 victory.
The Hawks moved on to the final against the Nonotuck Black Knights later that afternoon. Young put the Hawks up early with a wicked wrister from the point, but Nonotuck would score the next three to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. With their backs against the wall, the Hawks didn't wilt as Taggard scored off a Pattison helper to close the gap. Minutes later, Pattison lit the lamp to bring the Hawks all the way back to a 3-3 tie. The Knights attack proved to be too much in the end as they scored two late goals to win the championship game, 5-3.
The loss was the first in league play for the Hawks, a remarkable feat for a team of 11 and 12 year olds that included goalie Darek Harvey and his defense of Lauren Carpenter, Nelly Tattersall, Derek Parsons, Rockefeller and Young. The high powered Hawks' offense included forwards Cam Fry, Torin Kindopp, Aden McMahon, Brett Parsons, Palomba, Pattison and Taggard.
The 2015-16 Peewee head coach was Rob Pattison, assisted by Ross Wilkin and Andy Rockefeller.
BHA Board President, Tom Bodett remarked, "This has been one of those seasons that only come around every five or 10 years. We're so proud of these kids."
Trophies and recognition for the 2015-16 youth hockey season will be awarded at a celebration on Sunday, April 3, from 1-3 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of Brattleboro.
Also at the Olympia Ice Center, the BHA's Bantams' season concluded with a 3-2 loss to Amherst in a hard fought Tuesday evening contest. After a scoreless first period, with Hawks goaltender Austin Wood and his opposite number standing tall, Amherst was able to exploit a few momentary lapses by Brattlboro and build up a 3-0 second period lead.
The Bantams refused to go meekly to their season's end. They attempted to mount their third period comeback, building on a very pretty goal that saw Tyler Higley finding the twine on a fine feed from Jakob Curtiss. Antony Palumba's unassisted goal at the seven minute mark of the third cut the Amherst lead to 3-2. The Hawks pressed and pushed Amherst down the stretch, but fell short. They could not get the equalizer, despite tilting the ice and dominating offensive zone play in third period.
After leaving everything they had on the ice, Bantam head coach Eric Libardoni dismissed the team by reminding his players, "That a hockey game is a fragile thing and a season is even more so."
With only two second year Bantams on the roster, the team is poised for a deeper run into the GSL playoffs in the 2016-17 season.
The Brattleboro Novice Blue Hawks and White Hawks teams also played their final games. Their seasons ended at the Novice Jamboree, where they played three other teams.
The Brattleboro White Hawks had a strong showing. Henry Schwartz led the scoring in all three games by winning pucks and making the most of his opportunities. Jacob Starkey and Talia Betit-Engel also chipped in by pressuring the puck and contributing to the White Hawks goal count. Malika Anthes had a sweet backhander against Holy Name Green Stars. The defense got plenty of hustle from Senji Morris and Matrix Balsley-Petraska. Morris was also able to add a couple of goals to the team tally.
The Brattleboro Blue Hawks were also able to have fun on the ice at the Jamboree. Coen Bassler's hustle and hard work paid off in goals. Kaleb Betit and Alex Fortier also found the back of the net for the Blue Hawks. Again, the defense was very strong: Sammy Lyford made great blocks of shots on goal. Ethan Ahnert, Colby Robinson and Kaleb Betit also kept shots from entering the net, playing determined hockey and preventing their opponents from scoring.
At the end of the jamboree, the Brattleboro Novice kids were happy to thank coach Josh Pacheco for his great leadership and the help they received from his assistants Tanya Balsley, Joe Robinson, and Brian Bassler.