BREWER, Maine — The Brewer High School ice hockey team takes the long view even in the short term, including as short as the 45 minutes of a game.
The defending Eastern Maine Class B Witches never thought they were in trouble after falling four goals behind Class A Falmouth in the first period of Saturday afternoon’s game at Penobscot Ice Arena.
“We felt our conditioning would prevail,” said junior forward Kyle Alexander. “We make sure we’re the ones skating harder in the third period.”
Brewer (3-0) rallied from a big deficit for the second straight game and downed Falmouth 8-6.
This was after the Witches had fallen behind Messalonskee of Oakland 3-0 on Wednesday before winning 7-5.
“Conditioning makes the difference,” said Brewer coach David Shedd. “First the legs burn, then the lungs burn in practice. The burn goes away eventually.”
Brewer co-captain Tyler White’s goal 4:39 into the third period Saturday snapped a 5-5 tie, and the Witches held the lead the rest of the way.
Junior forward Kyle Alexander scored on a penalty shot [while shorthanded] six minutes after White’s score to build a two-goal margin for the Witches.
“I switched the puck from my backhand to the forehand,” said Alexander. “I had enough room to squeeze it in there [between Falmouth goalie Dane Pauls’ left blocker and the post].”
That gave the Witches their biggest cushion and one they would need.
“To get up by two at that point was huge,” said Alexander. “I thought when we got up by two, we could hold them off.”
Senior forward White wasn’t taking anything for granted, especially after the Witches had rebounded from four down.
“I knew when we were up by two it was not going to be easy to hang onto the lead,” said White. “The key was minimizing their opportunities.”
After a Falmouth power-play goal by Andre Clement with 4 minutes left cut the lead in half at 7-6, the Witches fended off the Yachtsmen until Brewer’s Spencer Valley drove in for an empty-netter with 19 seconds remaining to seal the win. Falmouth had pulled Pauls in favor of an extra attacker with about 30 seconds remaining.
Falmouth (1-1) took a 4-0 lead with 3:24 remaining in the first period, including a pair of goals by sophomore forward Ben Freeman. Senior forward Brandon Tuttle also had a first-period goal, and junior defenseman Ethan Low tallied the fourth, with an assist from Freeman.
“I’ve seen this happen to us many times,” said Shedd about opponents getting a big edge early.
He was a little concerned about Falmouth’s 4-0 lead.
“For them to get four as quick as they did was challenging,” said Shedd.
But he never said anything to his Witches.
“I really didn’t get the chance,” said Shedd.
That’s because 17 seconds after Low’s goal, before the announcement of it had finished, the Witches were on their way back.
Alexander scored with 3:07 remaining for the Witches’ first goal, then scored again 23 seconds later.
White, a senior forward, posted the first of his three goals 2:06 into the second period (shorthanded) and tied the game six minutes later on the power play. Pauls turned aside an initial shot and a try off the rebound before White scored off the second rebound.
Alexander scored on a breakaway with 1:14 left in the second period to give Brewer its first lead, but a blast by Freeman from the right point over goalie Adam Cossette’s left shoulder tied the game again 3:45 into the final period.
“In the third period we came back,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton, who lost junior defenseman Jackson Pike for the game due to a shoulder injury in the first period and freshman defenseman Connor MacDowell for a 10-minute misconduct for an equipment violation. “We had a better-balanced attack, and some of our younger players stepped up.”
Fifty-four seconds later came White’s final tiebreaker.
Cossette finished with 32 saves on 38 shots, and Pauls made 15 saves on 22 shots.
“I was expecting an incredible game,” said Shedd. “They’re a big, fast-skating club, but big bodies fatigue.”
“I like Brewer,” said Barton. “They’re a well-coached, disciplined team.”
Shedd gave the credit to his players.
“They had faith in themselves, and we trust our conditioning,” said Shedd.