BREWER, Maine – Brewer High School senior center Dylan Fitzpatrick said he and his teammates didn’t want to allow John Bapst of Bangor to go into the second intermission with momentum after senior left wing Nikki Mitchell scored with 19 seconds remaining.
So they recaptured it.
Fitzpatrick scored the second of his three goals just 12 seconds later to expand the lead to 5-2 and the Witches, ranked second in Class A in the latest Heal point standings, went on to post a 6-2 triumph over the EM Class B leaders at the Penobscot Ice Arena Wednesday night.
The score was misleading because after Brewer dominated the game’s first 13 minutes, the Crusaders went toe-to-toe with the Witches the rest of the way.
But Brewer was more opportunistic and received an outstanding 26-save performance from goalie Eric White in improving its record to 12-2-1. Brewer has now won three in a row and six of its last seven.
Bangor-based John Bapst fell to 12-2.
Junior center Nick Risser scored a pair of goals for the winners and senior defenseman Andy Bush had the other one. Ryan Nadeau had four assists.
Mitchell scored both goals for the Crusaders, including a power-play goal.
“When they scored that second goal, that really got us down,” said Fitzpatrick. “So we gathered at the faceoff and said let’s get one before the period ends.”
He was set up nicely on the goal by Ryan Nadeau as he skated down a seam before snapping home a wrister from the right faceoff circle.
“[Nadeau] found me going to the slot and I found the far side wide open,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think I caught [goalie Derek Duff] sliding over so I had the whole far post.”
“I had just told them to think defense,” said John Bapst coach Gene Fadrigon. “You want to make sure you don’t give up a goal up right after you score.”
Fitzpatrick iced it with 9:04 left in the final period as a Nadeau pass sent him in alone on Duff.
“[Nadeau] saw me streaking across and I was wide open. He hit me and I beat Duff through the five-hole on my forehand,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Fitzpatrick is a sniper,” said Fadrigon.
Fitzpatrick now has 22 goals this season.
Mitchell had a pair of clean-break-ins down the right side moments later but White stopped him first with the blocker and then with the pad.
“He has always been a solid goaltender. He controls his rebounds [well],” said John Bapst senior center Casey Hull.
Brewer took a lead it would never relinquish when Bush and Risser scored 29 seconds apart in the first period.
Bush scored at the 9:18 mark when his screened wrister from the midpoint deflected in off Duff’s blocker.
Risser expanded the lead when he carried the puck down the left wing on a two-on-one and snapped a rising wrister from the left circle that went in off Duff’s glove.
John Bapst came to life at the end of the first period but White made a couple of good stops to keep his team ahead 2-0.
Fitzpatrick made it 3-0 4:09 into the second period when he gathered in a Ryan Nadeau rebound, patiently stickhandled into a better shooting position and roofed it.
Mitchell made it 3-1 1:01 later on the power play as he finished off a nice passing sequence by wristing Hull’s pass against the grain into the far corner from the low slot.
Andrew Casey appeared to have cut the lead to 3-2 just 1:02 later but it was ruled that the goalpost had come off its mooring before the puck crossed the line.
“That definitely hurt us. But you’ve got to play through it,” said Hull.
Risser made it 4-1 6:30 later when he poked the puck free at center ice, went around a defenseman and broke in on Duff before “I put my backhander under his [glove side] arm.”
Mitchell cut it to 4-2 by streaking out of the zone on a defensive zone faceoff and gathering in a Chase Huckestein flip before beating White between the pads on the breakaway.
“We played real well tonight,” said Risser.
“It’s hard to contain us. We’re pretty well balanced,” said Brewer coach Bill Schwarz.
“We had our chances,” said Fadrigon. “We had two or three breakaways and if we had scored on them, it would have been a different game. Our kids gave it their all. Brewer is a good team.’’