Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Logan Leadbetter, middle, draws some air — and a penalty — after colliding with Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon’s Nick Austin during their game in Brunswick on Wednesday. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)
BRUNSWICK — The Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth hockey team ripped a page right out of their opponent’s playbook, and in doing so nearly closed the book on the Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse playoff hopes this season.
The Rams scored three times in the final 1:37 of the second period — two just 40 seconds apart to break a tie — and skated off to a 5-2 win over the Eagles on Wednesday night at Bowdoin College’s Sid Watson Arena. Where Mt. Ararat had been opportunistic enough to keep itself in the game for most of the first two periods, Cony capitalized on its chances to put the game away.
Four different players scored for Cony (5-3-0) in the second period, as the Rams won their fourth straight. Mt. Ararat lost its fifth straight. In a game pitting the two teams vying for the final postseason spot in Class A North, it was a stinging defeat for the Eagles (2-7-0).
“It was 2-2 and it was like we blinked and it was 5-2 going into the third period,” Eagles coach A.J. Kavanaugh said. “It was severely deflating.”
Avery Pomerleau, Cole Lockhart, Reed Hopkins and Zach Whitney each had a goal and an assist for Cony, which got balanced scoring from each of its top two lines. The Rams have outscored by a combined 16-4 during their winning streak.
“They’re a quality team, and this is going to be a dogfight down to the end of the year for our league,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “Anybody can win a game and anybody can get knocked off if you don’t show up and put a full effort in. It’s important to show up every night ready to work hard and win a hockey game.
“This was a big game for us.”
Cony’s Riley Dowe broke a 1-1 tie with a 4-on-4 goal at the 3:12 mark of the second period, but Mt. Ararat answered with a power play goal from Sam Alexander before the midway point — on just its seventh shot of the night.
Penalties eventually caught up to the Eagles late in the period, however, with Hopkins giving Cony the lead for good on the power play at 13:23 by flipping a backhander off a fallen Cade Charron (39 saves) for a 3-2 lead.
Forty seconds later, Lockhart’s wrister from the high slot doubled the lead, and Whitney beat Charron from the right circle four seconds before the intermission to make it a 5-2 game.
“It started with the power play, getting the goal there, and then our momentum just went forward,” said Lockhart, who scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season. “We started off slow this year, but we’re starting to go. We looked at it like this was a big game and we knew it was, so we started out strong and got the big win.”
“We shot the puck, got to the net and things went our way,” Whitney added. “I felt the momentum coming our way, and we were able to pound them in.”
Each team dealt with key losses early in the contest. For Mt. Ararat, third-leading scorer Nick Austin was injured late in the first period and did not return. For Cony, Dowe was hurt on his first shift after scoring and also did not return.
“I see (frustration) in pieces, but I give them credit — it doesn’t get any worse than the way we just saw the second period end tonight,” Kavanaugh said. “That’s probably the worst we’ve felt on the bench. We were all deflated, coaches and players.”
Mt. Ararat was fortunate to be in the game after the first 15 minutes, having been outshot 15-5 in the opening frame with more than half of those shots coming during an ineffectual power play late in the period. Still, the Eagles opened the scoring off the stick of leading scorer Noah Austin, whose 11th goal of the season handed Mt. Ararat a 1-0 lead only seconds after a Cony power play expired.
Rams goalie Dalton Bowie (14 saves) came out into the corner to play a dump-in, but he turned the puck over to Austin’s forecheck. Austin cut it back to the right circle and fired a wrister at 8:04 that beat a still-recovering Bowie.
Cony evened the score less than three minutes later.
Mt. Ararat entered the Cony zone with speed on the power play, but when Hopkins got a stick on the entry pass the Eagles left themselves susceptible. Hopkins swatted the puck ahead to a streaking Pomerleau, and Pomerleau capitalized on his breakaway when Charron found himself caught between playing the loose puck and manning his cage.
“I was pretty happy with how we moved the puck,” Foye said. “We made some really nice passes and moved with the puck well — and without the puck well — as the game moved on.”
Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Michael Boivin hits Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon High Schools’s Noah Austin during their game in Brunswick on Wednesday.(Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)