BANGOR, Maine — The John Bapst High School Crusaders breezed to an 8-0 victory over Houlton-Hodgdon in Houlton 11 days ago.
It wasn’t nearly that easy on Wednesday afternoon.
The Crusaders spotted the Black Hawks a 1-0 lead before erupting for four second-period goals, including three in a span of 6:38, en route to a hard-fought 5-1 victory at Sawyer Arena.
Senior left wing Alex Beals had two goals and an assist and linemates Joey Pate and Nick Doucette had a goal and an assist apiece as John Bapst improved to 3-2.
Jacob Fletcher also had a goal and an assist while the Crusaders received an assist apiece from Josiah Simko, Kurt Massey and Lee Spahr. Carl Rydell finished with 19 saves, including a handful of gems when the outcome was still in doubt.
Sam Fitzpatrick scored an unassisted shorthanded goal in the first period to stake the 0-5 Black Hawks to a 1-0 lead and freshman Payton Porter turned in an impressive 28-save outing.
“[Houlton-Hodgdon coach Joel Trickey] always has his team ready to play,” said John Bapst coach Gene Fadrigon. “I tried to tell our kids they weren’t going to be the same team [as 11 days ago] and they weren’t.”
The hard-working Black Hawks went toe-to-toe with the Crusaders in the first period and took a 1-0 lead at the 13:47 mark of the period when Fitzpatrick intercepted a point-to-point pass and converted on a breakaway.
But Beals tied it 41 seconds into the second period, and that gave the Crusaders the spark they needed.
“That took the momentum away from them,” said Fadrigon, whose team began sustaining its forecheck and keeping the Black Hawks on the back foot.
Beals scored off a three-on-one with Pate making the pass to him at the far post.
“It was a great pass from Joe right onto my stick, and I just one-timed it,” said Beals, who beat Porter to the near post.
“The ice was a little sticky in the first period and I had to push [off] a little harder,” said Porter. “It was more slippery in the second period, so when I pushed, I overextended and it went over my pad.”
Doucette scored the game-winner at the 6:01 mark as he benefited from a fortuitous bounce when Beals’ shot was blocked by a Black Hawk defenseman and landed in his path.
“I was gliding down the slot looking for a rebound or a pass and I blew [my shot] by his ear. I wasn’t even thinking. I was just trying to put a shot on net,” said Doucette, who beat Porter glove-side.
“I was too far back in my crease. I had to come out a little bit more,” said Porter.
Fletcher scored 1:18 later when he took a Simko pass, skated left to right across the slot and beat Porter with a slap shot to the far corner.
Fletcher was trying to generate a rebound for Jonathan Cheff.
“I figured I’d get [my shot] off his low [far] side pad. [Cheff] was trailing down the left side,” said Fletcher.
Beals capped the second-period flurry by taking a diagonal pass from Spahr in the left circle and snapping a wrister through Porter’s pads after first looking to pass it to Doucette, who was covered.
“The first period wasn’t how we normally play, so we had to step it up in the second period,” said Doucette.
“They’ve improved a lot,” said Fletcher.
Pate’s late third-period power-play goal came on a shot from the midpoint that deflected in off Porter’s glove.
“Once again, the start to the second period killed us,” said Trickey. “We’re young and we tend to have enough mental breakdowns [to hurt us]. But we did a lot better job controlling the puck than we did in the 8-0 game.”