BRATTLEBORO — In a game with huge seeding implications, the Brattleboro boys hockey team held on for a 5-4 home victory over the Burr & Burton Bulldogs in the regular season finale Wednesday. With the win, the Colonels will take a 6-1 record into the VPA playoffs as the No. 2 seed in Division 2. Harwood takes the top seed by virtue of a head to head 6-4 win against Brattleboro, even though the teams were tied in index points.
The Colonels got on the board first via a power play goal three minutes in. Jack Pattison ran a crisp give and go with Gavin Howard, who was in deep on the left. Howard hit Pattison in the slot for the lead. The same two each had good chances while shorthanded, killing a five-minute major. With 30 seconds left on the power play, B&B tied it up. Mason Foard had a chance in alone later in the period, but was stymied.
With 2:56 to go in the period, Howard went top shelf on a right side entry from Pattison and Sam Hall to make it 2-1. Austin Wood came up big with :11 left to keep it where it belonged. He stoned a Bulldog shot from point blank and Brattleboro took the lead play dictated into period 2.
B&B tied it up three minutes into the second when Matthew Grabher hit Riley Casey with a long pass and he then beat Wood. Casey was hanging at the opposite blue line and made a very nice move for the finish. Shortly after, Brattleboro scored again on the power play. It went from Will Taggard to Howard on the right side to Pattison for a backdoor score from the left. Brattleboro was forced again to kill a major penalty and managed to finish the kill off this time. In the last two minutes, however, a sloppy turnover in their defensive end cost the Colonels, as Grabher scored to tie it up.
With hard hitting Sam Hall in the box, for apparently hitting a Bulldog too hard, the Colonels took the lead with a shorthanded goal. Gerard, from his own end, backhanded it off the boards to Howard who skated in and buried it for a 4-3 lead. At 6:38, Brattleboro went up by two when Pattison passed to Alex Palomba at the left point — he slap passed it beautifully to Taggard for the tip in from the right side of the goal mouth.
Grabher scored again for B&B with 1:37 to go to tighten things up. Mason Foard had another big face off win with :10 left in the defensive end to seal the important victory. It was one of many he and the Colonels won, which was pivotal.
Coach Eric Libardoni was pleased with many aspects of the first win over B&B in six years. “Palomba played great defensively. Foard wins all the big face offs. It was a great win against a good team. Pattison and Foard were very good. We do need to finish better though.”
Although the Colonels were outshot, the quality chances favored the home team as did the number of hits.
No. 2 Brattleboro (6-1-0) will host the Burlington (1-4-1)/Union-32 (3-3-0) winner in Wednesday’s quarterfinal at Memorial Park at 7 p.m.