MAIL’s Tim Casey is congratulated by linemates Simon Campbell and Cody Burns after scoring against Berlin on Dec. 12. The host Renegades fell in OT, 5-4. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 17, 2012LACONIA – After moving all the way down from Division I this winter, the Berlin High School hockey team didn't expect to be challenged right out of the gates.
The Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes Renegades had other ideas on Dec. 12.
MAIL led 4-2 early in the third period before Berlin scored the game's final three goals, including the winner just 47 seconds into overtime to hand the Renegades a 5-4 defeat at Laconia Ice Arena in the Division III opener for both teams.
"It's a tough one but I'm very proud of my guys," said MAIL head coach Kevin Campbell. "I thought we played a great game against a team that played in Division I just last year. It tells us we can skate with any team in this league."
The Renegades led 3-2 entering the third period and killed off a penalty during the early portion of the frame. That set the momentum in motion, as senior forward Tim Casey took a feed from Nick Shute and circled around to the front of the net. Casey's shot through traffic found the back of the net with 10:30 remaining, and MAIL had a 4-2 lead.
"We were absolutely gassed in that third period though," admitted Campbell, whose team ran two lines and three defensemen in the final stanza. "I just kept telling guys, 'Give me 30-second shifts."
Berlin cut into the two-goal deficit with 7:59 remaining, as Justin Vien tallied off a rebound to make it 4-3.
MAIL goalkeeper Connor O'Neil came up with a big save just seconds later to keep his squad on top, and the Renegades found themselves in good shape after Berlin was called for a penalty with 4:27 to play.
But the Mountaineers killed off the man advantage, and they picked up their play looking for the equalizer.
"They came out on fire after they killed that penalty," Campbell said of Berlin.
With just 1:45 left in regulation, Berlin's Connor Jewett tied the score when his shot from the point trickled through O'Neil and across the goal line to make it 4-4.
"We called a timeout just before that because the guys were completely spent," said Campbell. "We tried everything we could to slow the game down but just couldn't get through the period."
Berlin nearly ended things just 23 seconds into OT, but forward Simon Campbell cleared a loose puck out of MAIL's crease. Jewett ended things less than a minute later however, as he scored his third goal of the game to the near post after a giveaway in the offensive zone for the 5-4 final.
"I thought we played a great game overall against them," explained Campbell. "We had a good game plan running a 2-1-2 (forecheck) system at them and we were having success with it."
The night got off to a tough start for the Renegades, as Jewett scored for Berlin just 35 seconds into the first period for a quick 1-0 advantage.
But MAIL settled in after the early goal, and the club got its first good scoring chance midway through the period when Chris Brown's shot on net was kicked away.
The Renegades finally busted through with 1:10 remaining in the first, as Casey took a feed from Campbell and wristed a shot up high to tie the score at 1-1.
MAIL wasn't done however, as Shute gave the hosts their first lead of the season with a mere 8.3 seconds remaining. The senior stayed with the play behind the Berlin net, wrapping around and putting the puck off Berlin keeper Shane Mailhot for a 2-1 lead.
"Those late goals were a good morale booster," explained Campbell.
Berlin tied the game early in the second but Casey scored his second of the night with 6:31 left on a sweet move that saw him get around two defenders and slot the puck into a tight window for a 3-2 advantage.
"Timmy's got probably one of the hardest and toughest shots in the division," said Campbell of Casey, who finished with a hat trick in the opener. "That second goal was definitely a highlight-reel goal. It was nice to see that out of him."
Casey's three goals led the way for the Renegades, while Simon Campbell had two assists. Shute finished with a goal and an assist while Dylan Sheehan also notched a helper. O'Neil made 33 saves in the MAIL net, while the Renegades put 28 shots on the Berlin goal.