Woodstock Hockey Feels the Sting
Woodstock's goalie Connor Black can't fend off Northfield's Joe Parento as he scores Northfield's fifth goal during Northfield at Woodstock boys hockey in Woodstock, Vt., on February 26, 2014. Northfield won, 5-2. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Woodstock's Nick Donaldson gets treated for a cut on his chin by Woodstock athletic trainer Brandy White between the second and third periods of Northfield at Woodstock boys hockey in Woodstock, Vt., on February 26, 2014. Donaldson returned to the game. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Woodstock — The second period of Northfield’s 5-2 Vermont Division II quarterfinal boys’ hockey win over Woodstock Union High on Wednesday night resembled one of those too-good-to-be true infomercials.
Even-strength goal? Check.
Power play goal? Check.
Shorthanded goal? Check.
An as good-as-it-gets performance by any standard, for sure.
But wait, there’s more.
Northfield senior sharpshooter Jackson Tucker capped the Marauders’ dominant middle period with a rare penalty shot goal, and the visitors were well on their way to their fourth consecutive D-II semifinal.
No. 5 Northfield improved to 15-6 with the win, while No. 4 Woodstock finishes up at 14-5-4.
Tucker’s dramatic one-on-one opportunity was awarded with 2:31 remaining in the second after a Woodstock player was whistled for covering the puck with his hand in a goalmouth scramble. The lefty-shooting senior captain picked up the puck at center ice, deliberately curled left, right and then left again, and when Wasp freshman goaltender Connor Black finally dropped into a butterfly at the top of the crease, Tucker made a final, quick move to the backhand to tuck the puck inside the right post.
Was the cool-as-ice patience Tucker displayed in waiting for Black to move first the result of well-founded confidence in a tried-and-true move? Nope.
“I’ve never taken one,” he said. “I just thought that since I’d gotten him five-hole earlier on, I’d better try something a little different. But that was my first one ever.”
The successful penalty shot provided Northfield with a 4-2 cushion heading into the third period. The visiting Marauders had actually played well in the game’s opening 15 minutes, owning a 9-6 advantage in shots on goal, but Black’s sharp goaltending and an opportunistic strike from Woodstock winger William Gault had the hosts leading 1-0 after one.
The game was not yet four minutes old when an aggressively forechecking Gault picked the pocket of a Northfield defenseman in the right corner, skated hard at the goal, and flipped a deft backhander over the shoulder of Northfield goaltender Riley Corey and into the net at 11:42.
Less than two minutes after Gault’s game-opening goal Woodstock was forced to kill a 5-on-3 Northfield power play for more than a minute following tripping and roughing penalties 53 seconds apart. The Wasps did so, with Black making three solid saves during the stretch, but in the second period yet another 5-on-3 proved too much to overcome.
Holding and interference calls 29 seconds apart provided the Marauders with the two-man advantage, and this time it took only 19 seconds before Northfield’s Connor Barrett angled in from the left boards and snapped a shot inside the right post for the 1-1 tie.
Woodstock reacted aggressively to the goal, and at 9:39 forward Connor Joyce tipped the puck away from a Northfield defenseman at the Wasp blue line, raced up the ice two strides ahead of the pack, and forced Corey to make a difficult save. Gault’s backhander on the rebound just missed wide of the left post, and in the ensuing scramble the Marauders were hit with a hooking penalty.
The man advantage turned out to be anything but, however, when Northfield’s Joe Parento picked off an errant breakout pass inside the Woodstock blue line, sped toward goal, and finished off a clever move with a wide-angle forehand at 7:58.
Less than a minute later, Tucker hauled in a blue line-to-blue line pass from Jordan Lumsden, barreled in on Black and snapped home a five-hole wrister.
Suddenly what had been a 1-0 deficit for the visitors was a 3-1 lead, and Woodstock coach Charlie Hancock called timeout with 7:07 remaining.
“The power play in the second period helped us a lot,” Tucker explained of the game’s shifting momentum. “Getting a goal on the 5-on-3 got us back in the game, and then the shorthanded goal really gave us a boost.”
Hancock’s timeout proved judicious when Daniel Robinson gathered in a Braden McCarthy pass at 3:49 and knuckled a wrister over the catching glove of Corey, making it 3-2 and delighting the vocal home crowd, but Tucker’s penalty shot nipped the momentum swing in the bud moments later.
Woodstock’s best chance to claw its way back in the game came early in the third period at the tail end of a power play. Ben Orr’s seeing-eye snap shot from the right point sailed untouched through traffic and all the way past a screened Corey, only to clang off the crossbar and harmlessly into the corner.
The Wasps continued to pressure, getting 12 of their 21 shots on goal in the final period, including close-range testers from both Luke Issa and Brian Townley, but Corey was at his best as the game wound down.
“He was really good tonight,” Tucker said of his freshman teammate. “He’s been solid all season, and tonight he came up big when we needed him, for sure.”
Northfield’s final goal was the most dazzling of the night. A hard-skating Parento dove onto his stomach to gather in a Casey Baroffio breakaway pass, pulled the puck back to his forehand as he regained his feet midway through the left circle, and snapped home the game clincher with 8:35 to play.