JAY-Kody Halikas had two first period goals and four different players had a goal apiece as the North Country Falcons defeated the Missisquoi Thunderbirds on Saturday night.
It was another penalty filled contest, the second in a row in Jay for the Falcons, as the home team racked up fourteen calls, including one five and three ten minute misconducts. MVU had nine penalties, with two being ten minute misconducts.
"We had some bright spots and we had some dark spots," coach Andrew Roy said when asked of his overall impression of the game.
The Falcons got off to great start in the game, spending the bulk of the first period inside the T-Bird end.
Just 2:58 in, Halikas got North Country on the board when Logan Fortier skated into the zone, went around the net and found Kody wide open in front of MVU goalie Nathan Muller.
Halikas took the pass and buried it to give the Falcons the 1-0 lead.
MVU tied the score four minutes later as Jack Raleigh was credited with the goal on a rebound play.
The tie lasted all of 1:22 as Halikas struck again on a rebound, swatting home Ross DeLaBruere's missed shot.
The next goal, which came a minute later could have been credited to either Adam Viens or Travis Tetreault, and it would be Tetreault getting the goal, but here is what happened.
Viens rushed into the zone fired off a shot that handcuffed Muller. The puck got past the goalie, and as Muller turned around it was not clear if he pushed it in the net, or if a diving Tetreault did, but Travis got the goal, and more importantly the 3-1 lead.
The Falcons continued to press, but they would score no more in the first. What they did do however is stay out of the box, which capped off a very good fifteen minutes of hockey.
"The first period showed what we can do," said Roy. "We let up a goal on a miscue, but otherwise played a very clean, solid and dominant period of hockey and it was a great start for us."
The Falcons started the second on the power-play, the back-end of a four minute man advantage that had closed out the first.
Nothing happened for NCU, although they did have some good puck movement in the MVU zone.
Now it was penalty time. When the period finally ended, the Falcons had amassed a total of thirty-seven minutes of penalty time.
Missisquoi would draw just one in the period.
Tough to compete when you are in the box that much, but compete they did.
First up was killing off a 5-3, which they did, but they could not kill the third penalty of the game, and Dylan Lafountain got the puck in the slot and went five hole of Chris Bronson.
Midway through the period, a MVU player went awkwardly into the boards after a some strange contact near the blue line.
The play seemed harmless enough, but the player, who will remain nameless, appeared to have hit his chin and he was out cold.
He would have to be eventually stretchered off by the EMT's. After speaking to one of them during intermission, the paramedic said she believes the player should make a full recovery.
Once the EMT's left he ice, Ryan O'Donnell who made the contact with the MVU skater, was gone for five and ten.
It was a prime chance for the Thunderbirds to get back into the game, but things went the other way, and North Country scored two short-handed goals to stretch the lead to 5-2.
Fortier was the first one to strike. He juked and jived his way through some T-Birds, and went five hole on Muller.
Then Ross batted home a rebound, to continue his hot scoring play as of late.
Said Ross on the reason for his success this season, "I am just getting the right bounces and I have two great linemates in Ryan and Kody."
North Country capped off a period of excellent penalty killing by stopping the second MVU 5-3 of the second.
There is a lot to be said about the North Country PK units on Saturday as their top defenseman spent a lot of time in the box. But it didn't matter who was on the ice as the team gelled as a whole to shut down the Thunderbirds in all but one of the man-down situations.
"We got more short-handed goals than we did power-play goals,” said Roy. "We've got some talented kids out there and they know what to do in a lot of different situations and they killed off more than there share tonight."
In the third, North Country and MVU both spent a lot of time in the box, but that would be a non-factor in the scoring.
With 7:45 remaining, MVU scored for the final time when Donald Muller tipped home Morgan Rainville's shot.
NCU directed eleven shots on the visitor's net, but the only one that got through was an empty netter by Ryan Paul with 7.4 seconds left in the game.
With that goal, North Country finished the icing of the cake and it was over.
Just kidding, both teams managed to get calls against them after the goal, then it was over.
Besides earning the win, the Falcons got some more good news as Brody Jacobs made his long-awaited return to the ice, giving NCU that much needed fourth defenseman.
"It felt really good out there and to be back in general," said Jacobs, who despite missing so much time had a solid game on Saturday.
Said Roy on Jacob's return, "Brody played tremendous tonight. He played a very smart game, made some good decisions on the blueline and provided us with some depth and was a breath of fresh air."
Chris Bronson finished the game with 29 saves for the 7-1 Falcons and Nathan Muller stopped 28 for MVU, who is now 3-5.
Next up, the other Franklin County opponent on NCU's schedule, BFA St. Albans, as the team will make the trip over the mountain this Saturday for a semi-final rematch with the Bobwhites at 7:00.