BRUNSWICK, Maine — To say the least, the distractions placed in front of the Bangor High School boys hockey team this week were tough to deal with.
Head coach Denis Collins resigned, according to a release, “over a flap that followed his refusal to allow a bathroom break on a three-hour bus ride” on the team’s return home from Presque Isle one week ago.
Plus, the Rams had to make a two-hour drive to Brunswick to take on the Dragons on Saturday, just days before the Christmas holiday.
With new coach Quinn Paradis in place, Bangor shook off two periods of undisciplined, penalty-filled hockey with a solid third period, getting a goal from Jordan Tracy with 30 seconds remaining in regulation for a 5-4 victory.
The win gives the Rams a perfect 4-0 mark, while Brunswick drops to 2-2.
“With everything that happened this week, it was great to get the win,” said Bangor senior forward Parker Sanderson, who picked up two assists in the victory. “We worked on focusing in practice and coming together as one. It’s been hard, but this is a big team win. When we were out there, you could tell everyone was working hard.”
“We battled back today and got a big win, and we are just moving forward,” said Paradis, whose squad visits St. Dominic of Auburn on Jan. 2. “We just worked hard every day, play like there is no tomorrow.”
The Rams came out strong in the opening period, getting goals 40 seconds apart for a 2-0 lead.
Tracy opened the scoring off a Sanderson assist, and Kyle Farley doubled the Bangor lead, with Sanderson assisting again.
Brunswick dented the scoreboard at 8:33 of the period when Jacob Parent converted a pass from Matt Brooks, with Kyle Woodruff also picking up an assist.
The Dragons left some chances on the ice in the first, failing to score on three power plays, including two extended 5-on-3 advantages.
“We actually play better on the penalty kill than we do on the power play, which today was huge,” said Sanderson. “The tough thing with being shorthanded is the legs, mostly because you’re out there every other shift.”
Brunswick finally converted a man-up chance, tying the game just 24 seconds into the second period on a goal by Brooks (Parent assisted).
But, Bangor answered with two more quick goals, with Carl Farnham and Farley scoring just 1:18 apart for a 4-2 Rams lead.
Dwayne Palmer came right back for Brunswick, putting a shot behind Bangor netminder Rye Powell (17 saves) 45 seconds after Farley’s second goal, and the Dragons scored on another 5-on-3 power play chance when Parker Wild blasted a shot through a crowd at 10:18.
Through two periods, Brunswick was 2-of-8 with the man advantage, while Bangor’s power-play unit failed to score on its only two chances.
The third period was a different story. Bangor stayed out of the penalty box and outshot the Dragons 15-4 to finish with a 35-21 advantage. The Rams had two goals waved off in the frame, and Tracy’s goal came on Bangor’s fourth opportunity with the man advantage.
“The third period we came out and played Bangor hockey. This is a huge win,” said Paradis.
“I’m sure they wanted to come out hard, especially considering the events of this week, and we just tried to play hard and get our legs going,” said Brunswick coach Mike Routhier. “They were able to get on a roll in the third period, and we haven’t been in that situation against top teams. If we play like this, we will win some games this year.”
Brunswick goaltender Blake Alexander turned aside 30 shots in the loss.