Make that a double. Both Essex (Division One) and Woodstock (Division Two) repeated as Vermont State Champions on Wednesday, March 13 at The University of Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse.
No. 1 Essex 5, No. 6 Rice Memorial 0
A five-point performance by senior Grady Cram – the first in championship game history in 33 years – drove the Hornets (18-3-2) past the upstart Green Giants (9-11-2) for the program’s 16th overall championship.
Second-year coach Chris Line’s squad defeated Spaulding by the same score in 2018 and the Hornets repeated for the first time since winning three consecutive titles from 2006-08.
Following a scoreless first period, Cram set up second-period strikes by Jonah Janaro, Iam Amaliksen and Willem Barwin that tucked the game safely away for Essex. Cram completed his outburst with a pair of third-period goals while Sam Foster turned back 17 shots for the shutout.
Cale Layman came up with 25 saves for Rice. The Green Giants were the lowest seed to appear in the final in nine years and were making their first title game appearance since 2002. It’s the first step in the process for first-year coach Jerry Tarrant, who graduates only five and who vowed to re-invigorate the program when he accepted the job.
No. 1 Woodstock 3, No. 3 Colchester 1
After playing to a scoreless tie in January, it took roughly another period and a half for a member of the Woodstock (16-2-3) or Colchester hockey teams to find the back of the net Wednesday night.
When Woodstock’s Andrew Gubbins finally broke through 8:54 into Wednesday’s second period, it kicked off a three-goal burst in a span of 3:23 that delivered the Wasps (16-2-3) their second consecutive crown.
Shortly thereafter Lucas Piconi delivered the game-winner and Ely Chynoweth stretched the margin to 3-0 54 seconds thereafter. Woodstock goalie Henry Greene (20 saves) drew an assist on the GWG, triggering the breakout with his pass to Piconi.
The Lakers (17-5-1) were blunted by penalties throughout. Still, they kept pressing and pulled to within 3-1 on Will Spencer’s power play strike with 3:50 to play. Greene stood tall down the stretch. Sam Fath finished with 20 saves in the Colchester cage.