After a fast-paced but scoreless opening first half, the Greely Rangers scored three times in the opening six minutes of the second half and went on to beat the new co-op Cheverus/Yarmouth team 4-1 Saurday night, Feb. 13, at Family Ice.
A key turning point in a close, fast and physical game was a five-minute major boarding penalty to Cheverus/Yarmouth (1-1-0) late in the first period that put Greely (2-0-0) on the power play. Opening the 23-minute second half, Greely stuck 35 seconds into the period when a Gage Cooney turnaround shot missed the net but rimmed out to the left point where point man Evan Dutil collected it and fired a low wrister that beat Bryson Poomerleau through the pads with help from a good screen from Cooney. Freshman Charlie Moore was credited with an assist on the goal.
Minutes later, at the end of the same 5-minute power play, junior Ryan Moore swung the net from low on the left wing side and sent a quick pass out to the low slot through traffic where junior Alex Wallace slammed it home to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
Then, just 1:05 later, sophomore wing Colin Petty, who scored two goals in his Varsity debut on Feb. 10 at St. Dom’s, fought off a couple checks coming out of the defensive zone and sped through mid-ice along the right-wing boards and eventually got to the right wing circle where he fired a wrister home for a 3-0 lead.
“That power play time early in the second half was clearly an important stretch of the game,” said Coach Barry Mothes. “The players on our first power play unit deserve a lot of credit for working the puck well and getting results. Due to the practice restrictions and breaks in the season, we just have not had a lot of time to work closely on special teams. But we’ve been doing a bit more lately and it was great to see us execute like that at a crucial time in a tough game. And Colin’s individual effort to get that third goal opened things up a bit.”
Cheverus/Yarmouth, who look to be one of the more competitive Class B South teams around with the combining of two historically competitive teams/programs, came hard off the opening face-off in Saturday night’s game, which had the feel of a mid-season rivalry game. Both the Cheverus and Yarmouth players on the roster were looking to avenge a number of regular-season losses to Greely in recent years, but Greely sophomore goaltender Keji Wiessner was sharp and focused early to help keep them off the board. Wiessner made saves on all 15 shots he faced in the first half and tracked the puck well.
After being outshot in the first 9-10 minutes of the game and facing a lot of pressure on the breakout, Greely settled in and started to build offensive zone pressure in the second half of the first half. Junior defenseman Brooks Williams made a strong cross-slot pass from the right wing corner to the back post where freshman Charlie Moore nearly converted. Junior Alex Wallace rang a wrister off the near post from low on the left-wing circle and Evan Dutil came close with a couple of quick-release snap shots. Ryan Mooore also had several chances while working hard on the forecheck and hounding the puck.
Meanwhile, the Greely defensive crew of Williams, Zach Dubbert, Dawson Jowett, Brennan Rawnsley, Cam Malette and Matt Kennedy worked hard all game to defend well and move the puck from the back. While bringing quite a bit of team speed and puck-rushing skill, Cheverus/Yarmouth was not able to get completely behind the Greely defense. Junior Spencer Osgood played the second half of the game, facing 14 shots and making 13 saves.
Cheverus did cut the score to 3-1 with 13:32 to go in the game, jamming home a loose puck low at the right post while on the power play. But Greely put together a steady string of good shifts and Evan Dutil added the fourth and final Greely goal with 14 seconds left by skating down the ice to steer a cleared puck into an empty net after a faceoff deep in the Greely defensive zone.
“Our defensmen and goaltenders were key parts of this team win tonight,” said Coach Mothes. “Keji was sharp early and that helped keep things scoreless while we were struggling a bit. Fortunately we picked up our speed and energy from there and carried on. Both Keji and Spencer played solid halves against a dangerous team. An early goal or two from them might have made the rhythm of the game very different and Spencer was solid after we grabbed the lead. We’re set to play them again in two weeks and I anticipate another challenging game.”