BREWER, Maine — The Brewer High School Witches ice hockey team jumped out to an early two-goal lead in the first period Monday evening at Penobscot Ice Arena and fended off a resilient Hampden Academy team late as the Witches edged the Broncos 4-2 in the season-opening game for each team.
The Witches flew out of the gates and staked themselves to a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes of play before the Broncos picked up pace and tightened up the defensive efforts, pulling within one goal of Brewer in the third period.
“We were fortunate to get those two early goals,” Brewer head coach David Shedd said. “The guys skated hard. It was the first game of the year and there was some misdirection and poor decision-making that will hopefully improve.”
Hampden outshot Brewer 39-31.
“It would have been nice if we could have played better in the first five minutes,” Hampden Academy head coach Bill Schwarz said. “That was the difference in the game, otherwise it’s an even game. We played decent after the first five minutes, but it was too little, too late.”
Senior forward Spencer Valley paced Brewer as he buried two goals and chipped in an assist.
Valley’s second goal with 10 minutes remaining in the third period pushed the Witches lead back to two goals at 4-2. It came just 27 seconds after the Broncos gained a huge momentum boost by pulling within one goal of Brewer.
“They had just regained the momentum and it was a 3-2 game with 10 minutes left,” said Valley. “Coach said we need to get a goal quick to get the momentum back and that’s what we did.”
Witches senior goalie Patrick Spaulding stopped 37 of 39 shots. Broncos junior netminder Ryan Manning turned away 27 of 31 shots.
Scoring started early as senior defender Brody Valley tallied the game’s opening goal for the Witches on a heavy slap shot from the left point at the 45-second mark of the first period.
Brewer pushed its lead to 2-0 just moments later, at the 2:39 mark of the opening period, as Spencer Valley netted his first goal of the game.
Forward Gabe Valley provided the assist.
Gabe Valley pushed the puck across the offensive blue line and moved toward the inner hash of the left faceoff circle before cutting back outside and dropping the puck into the high slot for Spencer Valley. He powered a snap shot into the upper right corner of the net.
Junior Gehrig White extended Brewer’s lead to 3-0 with a one-time slap shot from high in the slot one minute into the second period. Gabe and Spencer Valley each provided assists on the goal.
Hampden Academy responded at 7:50 of the period as senior Cooper Antone skated into the slot and fired a wrist shot over Spaulding’s right shoulder, narrowing the lead to 3-1.
The Broncos pushed hard to start the third for the goal that would pull them within one. They were rewarded early in the period as sophomore Luther Vom Eigen lifted a wrist shot from the slot over the left shoulder of Spaulding to make it 3-2.
Hampden Academy did not get any closer as Brewer squashed the momentum with a crucial goal 27 seconds later, at the 10-minute mark, as Spencer Valley picked up his second goal of the game.
Spencer Valley received an outlet pass from senior Jimmy Donnelly and earned an uncontested breakaway as he outskated the lone Broncos defender remaining between him and the net.
Spencer Valley faked a move to the left and, when Manning committed to the initial move, Valley pulled the puck back right and tapped it into the back of the net.
Hampden pushed late to find the scoring it needed to pull even, but Brewer’s defense persevered and withstood the Broncos’ effort.
“It’s good to get off to the right start with some young guys out there,” said Spencer Valley. “A big win was exactly what we needed.”