BANGOR, Maine — The undefeated Camden Hills Windjammers used their superior quickness and skill to keep the John Bapst Crusaders on their back feet for most of Friday night’s Class B hockey game at Sawyer Arena.
But senior goalie Jaron Leonard and the resilient Crusaders stayed within a goal until senior center Stephen Hand scored with a terrific backhander with 5:18 left to give the Windjammers some valuable breathing room in their 4-2 triumph.
Western Maine B team Camden Hills of Rockport improved to 4-0 while Bangor’s John Bapst, in Eastern B, fell to 2-3.
Camden Hills outshot John Bapst 33-8.
Hand, James Annis, Grayson Szumilas and Simon Lydon each had a goal and an assist for the winners while Jacob Fletcher had both goals for John Bapst.
Hand’s important third-period goal saw him receive the puck in the corner from Annis and maneuver his way to the front of the net before he was able to elevate a backhander into the short-side corner from 12 feet out.
“I ducked around a defender, just cut to the net, saw an opening and I roofed it,” said Hand. “(Leonard’s) glove had dropped.”
“That was a great shot,” said John Bapst coach Gene Fadrigon.
Annis staked Camden Hills to a 1-0 lead just 1:28 into the game before Fletcher equalized 6:12 later.
Szumilas gave the Windjammers the lead for good with 10 seconds remaining in the period.
Lydon extended the lead 4:52 into the second period but Fletcher answered with 3.5 seconds remaining in the middle period.
“We knew Bapst was going to hang in there. They’re a hard-working team and they have some dangerous players like (Fletcher),” said Windjammers coach Karl Enroth. “We knew they had momentum going into the third period but I said lets stay the course, try get the next goal and get some separation.
“Stephan is a guy who keeps coming up with big goals for us, goals that make a difference,” said Enroth.
Szumilas said the Windjammers knew they had to use their speed to backcheck effectively in the third period and they did.
“We really felt the pressure. We’ve been having a good run and we wanted to keep it going,” said Szumilas who centers the dynamic top line between Jack Orne and Lydon.
That line was dominant.
“We’ve played together since we were young kids. We know where each other is and that definitely helps,” said Szumilas.
Annis opened the scoring with a short backhander off a Hand feed but Fletcher tied it with a nice individual effort as he used to burst of speed to beat a defenseman before sweeping a backhander past Jet Magri.
Szumilas’ goal was set up by Lydon, who pounced on a loose puck in the high slot and pushed it to the net front.
Szumilas accepted the pass, “made a shoulder fake to get the goalie down” and wheeled around him before stuffing it home.
Lydon extended the lead in the second period by chipping a pass from behind the net from Szumilas over Leonard’s extended pad.
But Fletcher scored against the run of play when his shot from a difficult angle along the extended goal line glanced in off Magri’s stick.
“We didn’t play well away from the puck,” said Fadrigon. “We tended to migrate to the puck and left the weak side open. Camden Hills is really fast and they’re a good team. We didn’t stop and start, we stopped and circled, and you can’t do that against a fast team and a good-executing team.”