BREWER, Maine — The Brewer High School Witches wanted to get off to a good start against the red-hot John Bapst High School Crusaders on Wednesday night in their Eastern Maine Class B hockey matchup at the Penobscot Ice Arena.
And they certainly did that.
Senior center Spencer Valley scored three goals and assisted on four others and the Witches scored three goals in the game’s first 2:53 en route to an 8-3 hockey win over the Bangor-based Crusaders.
Brewer improved to 9-3 while John Bapst fell to 8-4 and had its six-game winning streak snapped.
“We wanted to shock them right in the beginning and not give them an inch and I think we accomplished that,” said senior defenseman Jake Caron, who opened the scoring just 21 seconds into the game.
Gabe Valley had a pair of goals and an assist; Gehrig White had a goal and two assists and Caron had a goal and an assist. Zach Torrey scored the other goal and Dylan Severance had a pair of assists. Patrick Spaulding finished with 22 saves on 24 shots before Tyler Friel finished up and made two saves on three shots.
Seth Yachanin had a pair of goals for John Bapst and Logan Ellis-Cyr had the other goal. Jaron Leonard made 22 saves on 30 shots before Sam Lander replaced him and stopped all five shots he faced.
The Witches attacked the John Bapst net right off the opening faceoff and unleashed a multiple-shot flurry.
The puck rolled to the midpoint and Caron beat Leonard to the blocker side with a screened wrist shot.
“I’m sure (Leonard) couldn’t see a thing,” said Caron. “His whole team and my whole team were in front of the net. There was an opening and I shot it right in.”
Zach Torrey made it 2-0 2:14 later by one-timing a backhand pass from White past the helpless Leonard from the top of the crease.
White had sprinted down the right wing but when a JB defenseman closed him down, he alertly backhanded the puck to Torrey.
Gabe Valley scored with a shot from the left circle just 18 seconds later and Spencer Valley expanded the lead with 4:30 left in the period thanks to a nice play by Jack Schroder.
“I was hanging at the back post and there was no one on me,” said Spencer Valley. “[Schroder] did a nice job stepping up and poke-checking the puck and it came right to my stick. I tucked it to my forehand and put it past the goalie.”
Ellis-Cyr closed the gap with 1:28 remaining with a short wrister off an assist from Jacob Reese and Yachanin’s goal just 1:33 into the second period off a Kurt Massey pass gave the Crusaders some life.
But Spencer Valley and Caron were immense during a full two-minute, two-man disadvantage and, just 27 seconds after the penalties elapsed, Spencer Valley tracked down a loose puck just in front of Leonard, pulled it around him and tucked it in.
“I put it around their defenseman, the puck slid forward and [Leonard] kind of hesitated,” said Spencer Valley. “I got to it and put it to my backhand.”
“That fifth goal killed us,” said John Bapst coach Gene Fadrigon.
Spencer Valley capped his hat trick on the power play 1:39 later with a wrister from the right circle.
White and Gabe Valley made it 8-2 in the third period as White tipped in a Severance point shot and Valley scored off a pass from cousin Spencer.
Yachanin capped the scoring.
“We stressed team defense first but it looked like we played offense first,” quipped Brewer coach David Shedd. “We outskated them. This was one of our best games of the season.”
Fadrigon said his team came out “pretty flat.
“We picked it up in the second period,” said Fadrigon. “But Brewer played well. They crashed the net well and filled the space well. We didn’t cover them well and we didn’t play the body. We continued to make mistakes on defense.”
Fadrigon also called Spencer Valley an “awesome player.
“He’s one of the elite players in this area, Class A or B,” said Fadrigon whose team without standout junior defenseman Ethan Handley (broken foot).