JAY–With the crowd already warmed up from the girls big win, the Falcon boys were able to ride the back of their stand-out goaltender all the way to the 3-0 win over Champlain Valley Union.
"Chris Bronson was amazing tonight," said assistant captain Nate Stewart, “Everything (he did) was just perfect. He covered us many, many times and definitely kept us in it.”
While there was not a lot of flow early in the game (or for the rest of the contest for that matter), North Country was the aggressor early.
After drawing a CVU penalty, the Falcons power play almost got the team on the board on a nice chance by Josh Bernier, but he was denied.
Freshman Greg Talbert got the nod in net for the Redhawks, but he was not long for this game.
The signs that he was destine for a seat on the bench began to show when Logan Fortier put the Falcons ahead 1-0.
In an example of "sticktuitiveness," Fortier fired a puck in on net and chased it down, getting his stick on it and some how directing it off of Talbert and into the net as he skated by.
Nate Stewart made it 2-0 on the power-play with a bad angle shot that he was able to blast past the keeper and the crowd in front.
“It's really important to get on top early here at home,"said coach Andrew Roy, “With the fan support we wanted to come out with some good energy in the first. The guys were looking to get the puck to the net and the guys did it.”
The Falcons directed ten shots at CVU's net in the first.
They would combine for nine more the rest of the way.
Bronson had an easy time of it in the first period, facing just one shot, but throughout the final thirty minutes it was a completely different story.
In the second, the game started to slide away from North Country. Their play was erratic and undisciplined. They were tagged for ten minutes worth of penalties, allowing for a measly five minutes of 5-on-5 action.
“In the second it got old, in the third I got used to it,” said Bronson of all the time on the PK, “The defense played well, icing the puck, getting it out of the zone, and covering their man. Congrats to the defense.”
CVU was merciless on the man advantage. While it was not the prettiest power-play in the world, it was relentless. They hammered pucks at Bronson, and he was up to the task.
The saves he was making were so mesmerizing that I briefly left my duties as a reporter, and just simply watched, amazed at the things he was doing.
The best save of them all came on a low shot that had goal written all over it.
Chris kicked out his right leg and made the save of the game to keep score at 2-0.
“It just happened. Spur of the moment. It happens really quick, and you just got to do it and hope it works,” said the junior netminder about the save.
Said Roy, “Chris was fantastic. He controlled his rebounds very, very well. His movement was good, and he didn't get out of position.”
From the prettiest moment to the ugliest. Logan Judd delivered a high hard hit on CVU's Jeremy Lerner that dropped the junior like a sack of bricks. Lerner slid from just above the hash marks down into the corner and it looked like he was going to have to be taken out on the stretcher. But he eventually got up and was able to skate back to the CVU bench.
Here's the kicker; no penalty.
In a period where North Country spent two-thirds of the time in the box, a hit that could have been called charging or at least interference, and the refs missed it.
To say Judd got a little lucky on that one is an understatement.
Ross DeLaBruere on the other hand was unlucky on two occasions, as his hard work produced two breakaways, but he was unable to cash in either time.
Things continued to go poorly for North Country in the third. But, along with Bronson's play, there was another bright spot, the penalty killing.
Another five penalties in the period, including an early 5-3, were all turned away by the North Country PK units, but all the time shorthanded showed in their play.
Said Stewart of all the penalty killing the Falcons had to do, “It was rough. There were some borderline calls, but it is stuff that we can't take. Chris bailed us out of those, and we had some great blocked shots, including Colombia's late. We manned up tonight on the PK.”
As the game wound down, their legs were clearly tired. The zip that they had shown in the beginning of the contest was gone.
With one minute left CVU pulled their goalie, hoping to get at least one past Bronson, but instead, the luckiest guy on the ice, Logan Judd, fired a long clearing shot that slid effortlessly into the open net with 3.1 seconds left to ice the game away.
The win was an important one for the club, who last won a game back on December 22nd against Burlington.
“This is a huge win,” said Roy, “To come back home and defeat CVU, who has beaten us up in a variety of different sports, we are very happy to beat them. It is also important for us to see some success for how hard we have been working.”
With the heavy hitters of the metro all but in the past, one game with South Burlington remains, look for North Country to start putting up some W's in the second half.
The boys will back-end the double header Saturday afternoon, as they too will host Rice with a 1:00 scheduled start time.