Boys’ hockey falls to No. 1 Hartford

HARTFORD — After a first-round Division II playoff victory, the No. 9 Middlebury Union High School boys’ hockey team couldn’t hold a third-period lead against undefeated top-seeded host Hartford on Tuesday and fell, 4-2, in a quarterfinal.

Hartford improved to 21-0, while the Tigers finished at 9-10-3.

Coach Jordan Stearns was happy with his team’s effort on Tuesday.

“The boys played so well and fought really hard,” Stearns said. “We just couldn’t quite hold on in the third.”

Ezra Mock gave the Hurricanes the lead with a goal late in the first period. But the Tigers scored twice during second-period power plays to go on top.

Jake Kadar knotted the score, with an assist from Joey Niemo, and Jordan Martin gave the Tigers the lead, with assists from Cole Schnoor and Nate Muzzy.

But early in the third period Hartford’s Ozzy DeFelice made it 2-2, and James McReynolds netted the unassisted game-winner at 6:36. Mock’s second goal of the game came with 1:29 to go and effectively ended the Tigers’ comeback hopes.

Tiger goalie Eddie Hodde made 32 saves, and Hartford’s Davey Bradley made 21.

On the previous Saturday the Tigers hung on to defeat No. 8 Lyndon, 3-2, in a first-round matchup after taking a 3-0 lead. Hodde backstopped the victory with 42 saves, while his Viking counterpart, Logan Miller stopped 28 shots.

Gus Hodde gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead 1:26 into the game, with an assist from Martin. Gavin McNulty made it 2-0 45 seconds into the second period, with assists from Martin and Hodde, and McNulty added a goal in the final minute of the middle period with a helper from Niemo.

The Vikings began their comeback with an Ashton Gould goal with 11 seconds left in the second period, and Dylan Miller made it 3-2 at 5:02 of the third. But the Tiger defense and Hodde held the fort from there.

Stearns was pleased with his team’s play on Saturday.

“Lyndon was really physical,” he said. “It was a really hard-fought, gutsy win.”

The Tigers had to play that game on the road because in the final game of the regular season the Tigers took a costly 3-2 loss at Brattleboro on Feb. 23. The setback to the 9-10-1 Colonels dropped MUHS from the No. 8 to the No. 9 seed in the D-II standings.

Gus Hodde in the first period and Martin late in the third scored for the Tigers, and Niemo, Kadar and Matthew Kiernan picked up assists.

Brattleboro scored all three goals in the middle period, with Will Miskovich, Will Taggard, and Evan Wright doing the damage. Colonel goalie Darek Harvey played well, especially as the Tigers pressed hard in the third period, including making a big kick save in the final minute.

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