BREWER, Maine — The Brewer High School hockey team had to go back to basics in the third period of Friday night’s game against Hampden Academy and it paid off.
The Witches started shooting the puck more in the third period after passing and stickhandling too much in the first two periods, and it produced five unanswered goals and a 7-2 triumph at Penobscot Ice Arena.
Junior linemates Spencer Valley and Kyle Alexander combined for five goals and five assists as defending two-time Eastern Maine Class B champ Brewer improved to 5-0.
Hampden is now 2-1.
Left wing Valley had a hat trick and two assists and center Alexander had two goals and three assists.
Joey Fowler and Alexander scored one minute apart in the first 2:02 of the third period to snap a 2-2 tie.
Marc Albert’s first-period goal and Mike Ward’s second-period tally tied the game for the Broncos (2-1) after Alexander and Valley had opened the scoring at the 1:16 and 3:29 marks of the first period.
Tyler White had a goal and an assist for the Witches, and Fowler had an assist to go with his goal.
Brewer’s Patrick Spaulding made 12 saves, including a couple of point-blank stops in the third period with the game still in doubt. Hampden’s Cody Varney finished with an impressive 37-save performance.
Brewer coach David Shedd had instructed his players to start shooting more after the second period and they produced 19 third-period shots after having 25 through the first two periods.
“The guys think they’re all-stars at times. When they have 90 percent possession of the puck and all this time [in the offensive zone], they look for the pretty passes and wind up holding on to the puck too long. That enabled Hampden to put their sticks in the way and tip our passes and shots,” said Shedd.
Brewer spent the vast majority of the game in Hampden’s end, but the Broncos did an admirable job protecting the net front over the first two periods.
“Instead of stickhandling and trying to get pretty goals, we decided to just get off good shots and crash the net in the third period,” said Alexander.
“We got down to the nitty-gritty,” said Fowler, who scored the game-winner on the power play 1:02 into the third period.
Positioned at the right point, Fowler took a pass from White and fired a slap shot into the far corner past Varney, who was screened by Valley.
“It was kind of an off-balance shot. I got lucky. I was just trying to put it on net,” said Fowler.
“I never saw it. They screened me pretty good,” said Varney.
Alexander extended the lead when he pounced on a Valley rebound, cut across the top of the crease and tucked the puck past Varney.
“Spencer’s shot hit the goalie’s far pad, it kicked out in front and I put it in under his glove,” said Alexander.
Valley slotted home consecutive goals off rebounds later in the period before White capped the scoring with 1:11 remaining.
Valley tucked home the rebound of a Nick Moore point shot at the 6:12 mark and completed his hat trick 3:56 later when he converted a Fowler rebound on the power play. White’s goal also came on the power play as he skated out of the corner and beat Varney with a 14-foot wrist shot into the far corner.
“The third period has definitely been our [best] period this season,” said Alexander. “[A lot of it] has to do with our conditioning.”
Hampden Academy coach Bill Schwarz said it wasn’t a matter of conditioning.
“Our inexperience killed us in the third period,” said Schwarz. “We had some chances to clear the puck out of our zone, but we couldn’t get it on our sticks.”
However, he was pleased overall with his team’s effort.
“Nobody wants to lose, but it was just our third game of the year, it was against the defending Eastern Maine champs and it was 2-2 after two periods. We played our system for two periods and got frustrated a little in the third period,” said Schwarz.
“Brewer has a very good team,” said Varney.
Brewer went 3-for-5 on the power play while Hampden went 1-for-3.
Alexander scored off a two-on-one to open the scoring, and Valley made it 2-0 by finishing off a three-on-two. Albert scored with a wrister to the far side after intercepting a Brewer clearout attempt, and Ward beat Spaulding with a quick shot off a Cooper Antone faceoff win.