Canes’ Grand Man: Rouillard Helps Hartford Hockey Rebound

  • Ben Rouillard

Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, January 21, 2017

White River Junction — Ben Rouillard scored his 100th career point on Wednesday at North Country, but the occasion was marred by a rare low point for the Hartford boys hockey team — a 10-1 loss to the Falcons. When the Hurricanes returned to action before a home crowd on Saturday, however, the senior captain was honored with a fitting celebration.

Hartford athletic director Jeff Moreno presented Rouillard with a commemorative plaque before the hosts defeated St. Johnsbury, 4-2, at Wendell A. Barwood Arena.

Rouillard contributed a goal and three assists as the Hurricanes (8-2-0) returned to their winning ways against the Hilltoppers (2-6-1).

“We weren’t ready to play (against North Country), and I think it kind of showed,” Rouillard said following Saturday’s win. “We just needed to rebound, and I think we kind of did that today.”

Jordy Allard scored the game’s first goal — by converting assists from Tyler Hamilton and Rouillard — with 8:58 remaining in the first period. Allard collected the puck to the right of the Hilltopper net, corralled it with some nifty stick work, then flicked a backhanded shot past Hilltopper goalie Garrett Rice as he glided in front of the net.

St. Johnsbury answered in the second minute of the second period with a goal by Tom Emery. The ensuing tie lasted nearly five minutes before Rouillard scored on a rebound off of Rice’s stick in front of the net. Adam Parker and Jacob Derosier were both credited with assists on the play.

Tyler Hamilton put the Canes up, 3-1, with four minutes remaining in the second period. Hamilton’s one-timer, assisted by Rouillard on a Hartford left-side counterattack, gave the hosts some breathing room heading into the second intermission.

St. Jay made things interesting when Christian Kapourkanidis scored 4:26 into the third period, but Allard managed a late insurance goal to cap the win for the Hurricanes.

Hartford goalie Richie Morrill stopped 12 shots in the victory, and Rice made 30 saves for the guests. Both teams were penalized three times.

Hamilton, who has been playing hockey alongside Rouillard since early childhood, was glad to see his co-captain receive proper recognition for accomplishing a remarkable feat.

“It was tough only because we (lost) 10-1,” Hamilton recalled. “But coming into this game, the ceremony got us hyped up — definitely.”

Rouillard, a left wing, downplayed his impressive body of work.

“It feels great, but it’s not a personal kind of thing,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without the coaching staff, my teammates, family; stuff like that.”

Rouillard summed up his milestone, which broke up North Country’s shutout bid during the second period of Wednesday’s debacle.

“It was definitely a good feeling,” the co-captain confessed. “It’s something that’s a goal, I think, that everyone has and it’s great to achieve it.”

Rouillard has joined a group of Hurricane greats as the newest member of the school’s 100-point club.

“There’s a reason only 11 (male) players have done it,” said Hartford coach Todd Bebeau. “This program has been around for four decades, and it’s not easy to do. The names up on that list that have done it are tremendous hockey players, and he belongs right up there with them.”

Bebeau has grown to appreciate his star forward over the years, and not just for Rouillard’s athletic abilities.

“I’ve known him since he was a baby,” Bebeau said. “The hockey speaks for itself — he’s a tremendous hockey player — but Ben is just a quality human being. He’s good to his teammates, he’s a good leader and he’s a good citizen in our community. … It’s just a full package. He’s just a great kid.”

Added Allard: “He is so deserving of (the 100-point plateau). No one’s worked harder than him.”

Hartford will seek revenge against North Country with a home matchup on Wednesday.

“We’re pleased that we’re having that rematch sooner than later,” Bebeau said. “So we’ll see where we stand. … Did we learn our lesson? Are we going to handle the puck better? Are we going to be more physical? Are we going to be more mature? It’s a big test for us, not doubt about it.”