MAIL defenseman Gus Kromer looks to carry the puck past Ben Newbern of Kearsarge during the Renegades' 3-2 win on Saturday at Laconia Ice Arena. Kromer totaled two assists to aid in the victory. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 06, 2014LACONIA – After dropping its opening two games of the season by a 19-0 combined score, the Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes hockey team was just looking for signs of progression on Saturday. Thanks to sophomore Cody Burns, the Renegades got their first win instead.
Burns tallied on a beautiful feed from Gus Kromer with 6:46 left in overtime, and MAIL scratched the win column for the first time with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Kearsarge Regional High School in Division III action at Laconia Ice Arena.
"We opened up with two of the strongest teams in our division. That's just the way it worked out," said MAIL first-year coach Chuck Yaeger, referring to defeats by powers Berlin and Souhegan. "But it's really good to come out of here with us taking steps in the right direction."
While the Renegades (1-2 entering this week) entered overtime on a power play after drawing a penalty with 1:43 left in regulation, Kearsarge (0-3) managed to kill it off, and the teams played the rest of OT at even strength.
MAIL didn't need much time to tally the game-winner. Just 1:14 into the eight-minute extra session, Kromer carried the puck deep into the Kearsarge zone. The sophomore defenseman circled behind the net, wrapping around to the far side where he fed the puck in front to a wide open Burns. The forward calmly fired a shot past Kearsarge goalkeeper Cody Rowe for 3-2 victory.
"We've been talking about getting the puck in deeper and then looking in front for open players," explained Yaeger. "You couldn't see a better example of that than our final goal."
The tight contest and sudden death format should only help the inexperienced Renegades going forward.
"Any shift can be the last shift of the game when you get into overtime so you have to find that energy necessary to be able to execute at that moment," Yaeger said. "It was a good experience for our team."
MAIL got on the board just 3:33 into the first period, as junior captain Dylan Sheehan buried a wrist shot through traffic for the team's first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Kromer and Collin Sheehan nabbed assists on the tally.
That advantage doubled to 2-0 with 5:32 left in the opening stanza, as Burns scored his first of the day when he skated through the defense for an unassisted tally.
While the Renegades looked very much in control at that point, Kearsarge clawed back and cut the deficit in half just before the first intermission. The Cougars killed off a MAIL power play and just seconds later made it 2-1 when Ben Newbern beat senior goalie Connor O'Neil with 1:49 remaining.
That 2-1 lead carried into the third period for MAIL, thanks in large part to a clearance out of the crease by defenseman Dominick Doliber with 6:01 left in the second.
While MAIL nearly added to its lead when Collin Sheehan and Burns had breakaways turned aside, the Cougars tied things up at 2-2 with 7:07 left in the third. Will AuFranc put home a loose puck in a scrum in front of O'Neil after the busy keeper turned away three straight shots, evening things up in crunch time.
The Renegades had to survive several Kearsarge scoring chances the rest of the way, but MAIL's defense led by O'Neil between the pipes (25 saves) kept the Cougars off the scoreboard to force OT.
"You just have to keep working," said Yaeger of his team's attitude after allowing the tying tally. "After they tie the game, you can only control what you can control. You have to just keep playing your game."
The Renegades were slated to meet with Souhegan for the second time already this season after deadline on Wednesday night, and their next contest is scheduled for Saturday afternoon on the road at Manchester West (4:30 p.m.).