BANGOR, Maine — Senior forward Connor Griffin scored two goals and assisted on the third as Bangor defeated rival Brewer 3-1 Wednesday night at Sawyer Arena in a matchup of unbeaten Eastern Maine boys hockey teams.
For Griffin and his senior class teammates, it was their first victory over the Witches.
“It feels so good,” said Griffin, “because they’re such a great team.”
“They trust each other,” added Griffin. “They know where [their teammates] are on the ice and they know what they’re going to do.
“It feels so great to beat a team that’s so good.”
Brewer (6-1 in Class B) took a 1-0 lead in the first period when senior forward/defenseman Joey Fowler jumped onto the ice as teammate Spencer Valley finished serving a penalty.
Fowler grabbed a loose puck at the Brewer blue line, zipped straight down the middle of the ice and fired the puck past Bangor goalie Chris Howat low and to Howat’s left with 5:24 to play.
The Witches had already taken a pair of solid runs against Howat. The first was by Kyle Alexander with 12:25 remaining in the opening period, and the second came 2:15 later when Valley, standing a few feet in front of Howat, took a pass from behind the Bangor net and fired it on net.
Howat stopped both attempts, absorbing the blasts with his chest and hanging onto the puck to prevent rebounds.
Griffin’s first goal, 1:31 into the second period, pulled Bangor (now 5-0 in Class A) into a 1-1 tie.
Freshman defenseman Sam Huston raced down the right side and fired the puck across the front of the Brewer goal. It rebounded out of the corner to Griffin, who one-timed it past Witches goalie Patrick Spaulding.
“We’ve been working on practicing keeping our heads up,” said Griffin. “I definitely sniped that one.”
The puck actually hit Spaulding on his right side, near his clavicle, popped over his shoulder and dropped behind him before trickling across the goal line.
A flurry of shots resulted in freshman defenseman Sam Kenny pumping in Bangor’s second goal. The game-winner came toward the end of a power play with 9:15 left in the second period.
Junior forward Parker Sanderson took the initial shot for the Rams and Griffin tried to poke home the rebound, but Spaulding knocked them both aside. Kenny scored on the second rebound.
“We were playing brand-new lines,” said Griffin, who was moved up to the first line with Sanderson and Carl Farnham.
“I thought if I put it on net, I knew one of them would clean it up and put it in,” said Griffin.
Griffin finished the night’s scoring 34 seconds later when his shot from the faceoff circle to Spaulding’s right hit the far post and caromed in. Kenny got the assist.
“I breathed a little easier going into the third period with a 3-1 lead,” said Bangor coach Denis Collins, who had been worried about containing the Witches’ speed.
“Their offense is forward-dominated,” he said. “Our forwards did a good job of slowing them down. Backchecking was the key for us.”
Brewer coach Mike Shedd had mentioned earlier in the season that he hoped his team’s speed could overcome Bangor’s size.
“They did a good job neutralizing our speed,” said Shedd.
Collins said having an extra line of forwards helped.
“We have seven freshmen and six of them play regularly,” said Collins. “That gives us three lines to their two” and the Rams were able to keep their legs fresher.
“I’ve got to give credit. Bangor played a good game,” said Shedd.
Howat finished with 25 saves on 26 shots, and Spaulding made 19 saves on 22 shots.