MUHS boys’ hockey rolls past Rutland, 5-2
WOODSTOCK — Using strong defense and goaltending and opportunistic offense, the Middlebury Union High School boys’ hockey team on Tuesday dispatched visiting Division I rival Rutland, 5-2.
The five goals were a season high for the 7-5-1 Tigers, who had only two times this winter scored as many as four goals, once in their 4-2 win on Saturday at Woodstock.
But two goals against has become routine: Tuesday marked the 10th time in 13 games the Tigers have held an opponent to two goals or fewer.
Senior co-captain and defenseman Andrew Gleason pointed out after Tuesday’s game the starting Tiger defense is loaded with veterans: He, senior Erik Sherman, and juniors Brian Kiernan, Krystian Gombosi and Ziven McCarty have all skated regular shifts in previous seasons, while senior goalie Doug DeLorenzo and freshman Jeffrey Stearns have performed well.
“We’ve got great goaltending in Doug and Jeffrey. Doug played well tonight,” Gleason said. “Our defense is pretty much all returning, except for Alexander (Yurista), who’s stepped up this year and been playing well.”
On Tuesday, the group took care of the details, he said, with plenty of help from the forwards, as the Tigers kept the Raiders’ scoring chances to a minimum and DeLorenzo made 22 saves. Rutland scored both of its goals on power plays.
“It was just hard play, doing the small things in the zone, being smart with the puck, not just throwing it up around the boards. We did do a little bit of that, but the defense was getting it to the forwards, and the forwards were chipping it into the neutral zone, and then we were able to skate onto it and make a play,” Gleason said. “It was an all-around team effort of doing the small things in the defensive zone.”
Coach Derek Bartlett said the Tigers minimized the Raiders’ chances even when Rutland carried play early in the first period.
“We have that mentality of bend, don’t break,” Bartlett said. “Even though they might win a loose puck, don’t try to make that one big check to take the puck away, just keep your feet moving and stay in good defensive position with your body and your stick.”
Of course, it also helped that the Tigers cashed in on opportunities at a rate not always seen this winter.
“It was nice to be able to breathe on the bench for a little while,” Bartlett said. “Pound the pads and get to the goal and good things happen.”
After the shaky start during which DeLorenzo had to stop Raider Ben Simpson’s breakaway after an MUHS turnover, the Tigers took the lead at 7:12 on senior Brett Viens’ shorthanded goal. Viens and senior Eli Tucker knocked the puck loose at center ice, and Viens skated in on the right side and beat Raider goalie Glen Mandel (18 saves) inside the left post.
But the Tigers kept finding themselves in the penalty box — they were whistled seven times. The Raiders cashed in on their second power play at 4:17, when Ethan Coarse poked in a rebound.
The Tigers were starting to skate and clear their zone better and to win puck battles, however, and scored two late-period power-play goals to take a 3-1 lead. At 12:39, junior Tyler Giorgio, at the left post, rapped home the rebound of a Gleason shot from the left point. At 14:07, sophomore Kolby Farnsworth set up sophomore Henry Hodde near the left post. Hodde tried to slide the puck home behind Mandel, but it was headed wide of the right post — no matter, Viens was there to tap it home.
The Tigers killed two more penalties in the scoreless second period, with Hodde, sophomore Jake Peluso, McCarty and Gleason doing good work. DeLorenzo made a pair of good stops on Connor Ladabouche to help preserve the Tiger lead.
DeLorenzo denied Ladabouche again on a Raider power play to open the third, and then the Tigers came on strong. After MUHS pelted Mandel in an unsuccessful power play, at 5:54 Hodde made it 4-1 by one-timing home Giorgio’s feed from behind the net.
The Raiders cut it to 4-2 at 8:19 on a power play, with Ben Howard knocking in the rebound of a Michael Silva shot.
The Tigers sealed the win with their own power-play goal at 14:01: Farnsworth roofed home a cross-crease pass from Viens.
On Saturday at Woodstock, the teams entered the third period tied at 2-2, and McCarty scored the unassisted game-winner 15 seconds into the period. Farnsworth added an empty-netter, his second of the game, and Hodde added a shorthanded goal for the Tigers. Stearns backstopped the win with 22 saves, while Wasp goalie Jason Drebber made 31 saves.
Bartlett appreciated the nine goals in two games, but stressed the defensive discipline remains most important for MUHS.
“We got five goals tonight, and that feels great, but that’s very atypical. We play a defensive game first. We try to get pucks to the net and try to get opportunities, but we lean on our defensive corps and goaltending,” he said.
On Saturday at 7 p.m. the Tigers will host Spaulding, which entered Wednesday in first place at 9-2-1. MUHS lost to the Tide, 4-2, on the road earlier this winter, and Gleason said the Tigers are eager for the rematch.
“We played them tough in their barn,” Gleason said. “They came away with a win, but we’re definitely looking forward to them coming down here and having a good game with them.”
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