Boys’ hockey settles for tie in tough night

MIDDLEBURY — Friday was a difficult night for the Middlebury Union High School boys’ hockey team, as the host Tigers lost a two-goal third period lead in a 3-3 tie with last-place Rutland — and watched junior co-captain Kam Bartlett helped off the ice after he apparently was knocked unconscious in the first period.
The good news was that Bartlett was talking and moving all his limbs after initially lying motionless after being checked into the boards. Tiger Head Coach Derek Bartlett left the Memorial Sports Center to monitor his son’s medical attention and reported the next day Kamrin had suffered no major injuries.
The tie left the Tigers at 7-5-2 and in fourth place in Division I, with Rice (5-5-2) in fifth and South Burlington (5-6-1) in sixth. The Tigers were set to host Rice this past Wednesday, but that game was postponed until Feb. 25. The Tigers will visit South Burlington on Feb. 20, and their other four remaining games are against the teams above them in the standings.
They are winless in their past five, including recent disappointing results against two weaker teams, Spaulding (a 1-1 tie) and Champlain Valley (a 6-5 loss in overtime).
MIDDLEBURY FORWARD HALE Hescock is surrounded by Rutland defenders as the Tigers looked for a winner in the 3-3 home tie on Friday.
Independent photo/Steve James
Assistant Coach Jim Derosia said the Tigers have struggled with injuries, losing sophomore Bode Rubright to a longer-term issue vs. CVU and junior Hale Hescock with a one-game ailment vs. Spaulding.
“We’ve got hit by the injury bug,” DeRosia said. “They’re all first- and second-liners, so we’ve been kind of patch-working it together.”
The Tigers also created some of their own problems on Friday against a 3-10-2 team they had earlier defeated, 7-1. In the second period three straight penalties left them shorthanded for five minutes, and Derosia said the effort of killing them off took its toll. And the Raiders tying goal came from a Tiger giveaway.
“We spent too much time killing penalties,” Derosia said. “And we just can’t do that. We run two, maybe three, lines, and every other shift they’re out there killing penalties and just burning up energy. So we’ve got to stay out of the box and (make) some better decisions.”
The Tigers also fell behind quickly. Raider Noah Crossman picked up a loose puck at the Tiger blue line and broke in alone on MUHS goalie Jeffrey Stearns (18 saves) to make it 1-0 at 1:25. Raider Ryan Melen nearly made it 2-0 about a minute later, but Stearns deflected Melen’s point-blank bid over the bar.
Then the Tigers countered. Hescock and Bartlett dug the puck out of the left corner of the Raider zone to Kolby Farnsworth, who streaked through the slot, and put it back inside the left post at 4:55.
Thirty-four seconds later Bartlett went down, possibly from an uncalled cross-check, and both teams left the ice while he was attended to.
Late in the period Stearns made two good stops on Raider captain Ben Simpson.
The Tigers scored twice in the second to take the lead. Cooper O’Brien made it 2-1 at 1:57. Devon Kearns came out from behind the Raider net on the right side and shoveled the puck to O’Brien at the left post, and he flicked it high into the net.
The Raiders skated from 6:52 to 1:52 on the power play, twice with five-on-three advantages, for 51 and nine seconds. Strong work by backs Abel Anderson, Ben Turner and Tucker Stearns and Kearns, Hescock and Farnsworth helped kill the penalties, and Stearns stopped two drives by Raider defender Eren Cetin.
With 24 seconds left in the period Farnsworth made it 3-1 with a highlight-reel goal. He took a clearing pass from Anderson, outskated two Raiders down the right side, broke in alone on Raider goalie Shailer Evans, and ripped a forehand into the upper right corner.
MIDDLEBURY FORWARD KOLBY Farnsworth beats Rutland goaltender Shailer Evans on a breakaway to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead in the second period of Friday’s game. But the visitors came back to score twice in the third period and force a tie.
Independent photo/Steve James
But the Raiders were unfazed. At 2:11 of the third Melen rammed home the rebound of a Cetin blast from the point, and it was 3-2.
The tying goal at 7:00 was doubly painful. The officials, who didn’t have their best night, missed a Raider at least two feet offside on the entry to the zone. Still, the Tigers gained possession, but whiffed on a pass from the slot, a play that allowed Dillon Moore to swoop in and stuff home a backhand inside the right post.
The Tigers had a chance down the stretch, but Turner’s cross from the right to Farnsworth was just out of his reach. In overtime Stearns stopped Cetin from the point one more time, but the Tigers did not test Evans (nine saves).
Derosia credited the Raiders for a strong effort, but said the Tigers will have to regroup.
“We’ve just got to learn to take care of our own net and our own zone, and make some better decisions,” he said.

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