When the smoke cleared on the D1 finals, it was third-seeded Essex holding the trophy. The Hornets held on to win a tight 2-1 battle against top-seeded Rice Memorial in front of over 3,500 fans at the UVM Gutterson Rink.
Justin Prim buried a pass from Patrick Monahan to open the scoring in the first period and Trenton Sisters had the game winner in the third. Goalie Max Foster had 26 saves and was tested by a talented Rice offense right through to the final buzzer.
Matt Senesac the lone goal for Rice Memorial, which went 2-0-1 in three regular season meetings with Essex.
In the Division 2 final played at Gutterson at the same night, Milton completed an improbable late-season run with another comeback victory, taking down unbeaten Hartford, 4-3 in overtime. The Hurricanes were 22-0 heading into the night, but couldn’t stop late game heroics from the comeback kid, Owen Severy.
Just as they had in the semi-final, the Yellowjackets found themselves down three goals but never stopped believing. Cameron Fougere got the scoring started early in the third period on a slick feed from Cooper Goodrich. Milton continued to grind in the corners and slot and Tyler Larocque was strong on defense.
Caleb Barner cut the margin to 3-2 later in the period.
For a second game in a row, it was Severy playing the role of spoiler and hero. He scored the tying goal with 4:33 remaining and the winner in overtime after leaving the ice injured in the second from a hard check. The overtime winner bounced off several skates on it’s fateful path over the goal-line.
Teddy Munson was a standout in net for Milton, turning aside 29 shots and overcoming the mental stress of being down 3-0 and under fire from a potent Hartford offense.
This was Milton’s first title since 1982 and possibly a final game for Coach Bryant Perry. Hartford’s perfect season was not to be, but if the Hurricanes can reload heartbreak into motivation for next year, this young team will have more shots at Gutterson glory.
Connor Tierney scored two goals for Hartford.
** Story by Steve Fortmann