BANGOR, Maine — Their cheering section bailed out the sound system by singing a rousing chorus of the national anthem after the CD skipped.
And the John Bapst High School Crusaders rewarded their fans with a hard-fought, come-from-behind 5-3 schoolboy hockey victory over the upset-minded Hampden Academy Broncos Thursday night at Sawyer Arena.
The Crusaders, who sit atop Eastern Maine Class B, improved to 11-1 while Hampden Academy fell to 2-10.
“[Hampden Academy] worked their tails off and their goalie [Jake Ward] played really well,” said John Bapst senior center Casey Hull, who gave the Crusaders the lead for good with a second-period goal that made it 3-2.
Senior defenseman Tyler Fadrigon had the second two-goal game of his career and added a pair of assists and senior left wing Nikki Mitchell also had two goals and two assists. Backup goalie Doug Dieuveuil made a rare start and had eight saves.
Junior Cody McAllister had a pair of goals for the Broncos and Josh Tardiff had the other. Sophomore Ward turned in a terrific 37-save performance as JB outshot the Broncos 42-11.
The Broncos stunned the Crusaders by taking a 2-0 lead on goals 48 seconds apart in the opening 2:42 by Tardiff and McAllister.
Tardiff corralled a loose puck in the corner to Dieuveuil’s right, skated unmolested to the circle and roofed a wrister into the short-side corner. McAllister jammed home his own rebound from point-blank range.
But Fadrigon triggered a string of four unanswered goals when he wheeled around at the top of the high slot and fired a Mitchell pass through a maze of players past Ward.
Mitchell tied it on the power play 46 seconds into the second period when he tipped Chase Huckestein’s shot from the point into the upper short-side corner. Huckestein had intercepted an attempted clearout.
Ward made three great stops over the next five minutes as he got a piece of his glove on Mitchell’s backhander and robbed Hull twice when Hull sliced across the low slot.
But Hull broke the tie on the power play off a three-on-two when he took a pass from Mitchell, skated down the middle of the slot and snapped a wrister past the helpless Ward.
“It was a great pass by Nikki. I picked my head up and saw the top glove-side corner open,” said Hull.
“That was a nice shot,” said Ward.
John Bapst outshot HA 14-2 in the middle period.
“We picked up our forecheck in the second period,” said Fadrigon.
Dieuveuil made a couple of good stops early in the third period before Fadrigon scored with a fluttering shot from the point off an Andrew Casey pass.
“It was like a knuckleball and I didn’t see it through all the bodies in front. It hit my stick and dropped down into the net,” said Ward.
McAllister cut it to 4-3 with 7:32 left when he pulled the puck around Dieuveuil with a quick move.
But Mitchell’s empty-netter iced it with 12 seconds left.
HA coach Mark Walsh said Ward turned in his “best game of the season” and senior Tardiff said the Broncos gave a good account of themselves.
“We had a few breakdowns but we worked hard,” said Tardiff, whose move from forward to defense has solidified the blueline corps.