AUBURN — At even strength, Cony was a tough enough assignment for Gray-New Gloucester/Poland in Eastern Class A boys’ hockey Wednesday night.
Five-on-four, forget it. The Rams scored four times on the power play and added a short-handed tally for good measure, pulling away from the Patriotic Knights for a 7-3 win at Ingersoll Arena.
Austin Davis and Tyler Leet each had a hat trick for Cony (5-2).
“We got outplayed at times,” GNG/Poland coach Aaron Rand said. “We had only given up one power-play goal all season, so tonight was a little surprising, but those things happen when you go to the box.”
Kaleb Bridgham notched two goals and an assist for the Patriotic Knights (2-4-1), who jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Rams lit the lamp six straight times.
Cony clawed back with goals in both the final minute of the first period and the opening minute of the second stanza.
“We started out really slow. We haven’t had a game for a few days, but I don’t want to make excuses,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “You’ve got to come out ready to play every night. I’m happy with the way we finished, but we can’t expect to take half a game off and reach our potential.”
Zach Gagne put the Rams on the board with 21 seconds remaining in the opening period. Gagne cashed in a Cony power play with a chest-high bid from the high slot that eluded Calvin Shelley. Davis and Dallas Clark notched assists, one of four for Clark on the night.
Davis delivered the first of his two second-period goals to tie it at the 28-second mark. Clark fed that quick turnaround with a pass that caught Davis in stride in front of the Cony bench.
Shelley made four fantastic stops on another Cony power play before the Rams finally broke through with the go-ahead goal.
“He definitely got peppered,” Rand said of Shelley, who made 40 saves.
Leet finally stuffed home the rebound at 10:24, Drew Keithley and Aaron Manter assisting, to put Cony in command.
Cony made it a 4-2 lead with 2:47 remaining in the period, this one an unassisted, short-handed strike by Davis on a breakaway.
The Rams concluded the middle period with a run of 19 unanswered shots on goal. It was a sign that they’ve recovered from back-to-back shutouts against Lewiston and Brunswick before the holidays.
“We had two games where we didn’t do anything,” Foye said. “You can’t beat anybody if you don’t score.”
Poland/GNG looked sharp out of the gate. Bridgham had a goal and an assist in the opening period.
Ethan Cailler capped a 2-on-1 with his fourth goal of the season on the power play at 7:31.
Bridgham didn’t get all of his initial shot from the left circle. It was enough to force Tom Small to make the save, however, and Cailler cleaned up the carom at 7:31.
“We came out flying and just tried to put pucks on net to see what happened,” Rand said. “We went hard to the goal.”
Nevin Rand set up Bridgham’s goal at 12:13 after the Patriotic Knights came away with a face-off at the opposite end.
Then came the Cony charge, punctuated by Davis and Leet’s goals with the man advantage in the third period.
Davis delivered his third of the game courtesy of Clark and Anthony Brunelle at 1:05. Leet scored on a feed from Manter at 6:21.
Bridgham broke the spell with a breakaway goal before Leet completed his trifecta.
The Patriotic Knights have been dealt a nasty hand by illness and injuries this month. Last week’s game against Edward Little had to be postponed until later in the month due to the onslaught.
“We’ve had kids in and out of the lineup, so it’s hard to be consistent offensively. A lot of kids are sick. We’ve had four different concussions. We have a separated shoulder. Besides that we’re doing great,” Rand said with a laugh.