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<b>Burr and Burton Academy senior forward Henry Buckley, right, tries to knock a U-32 player off the puck after a blue-line faceoff during the third period of Wednesday night's game at Riley Rink. (Austin Danforth)</b>
Burr and Burton Academy senior forward Henry Buckley, right, tries to knock a U-32 player off the puck after a blue-line faceoff during the third period of
Burr and Burton Academy senior forward Henry Buckley, right, tries to knock a U-32 player off the puck after a blue-line faceoff during the third period of Wednesday night's game at Riley Rink. (Austin Danforth)
Thursday February 7, 2013

AUSTIN DANFORTH

Assistant Sports Editor

MANCHESTER -- Even before the season started, Burr and Burton Academy boys hockey coach Cory Herrington said he expected his goaltender, senior Zack Stewart, would steal at least a few games for the Bulldogs this winter.

Wednesday was one of those nights.

"He was a grinch tonight," Herrington said. "He had a heck of a game. He saw an awful lot of rubber."

Playing through the aftershocks of a migraine, Stewart racked up 50 saves against Lake Division leader U-32 as the Bulldogs secured a nervy, 2-2 draw at Riley Rink.

"He proved tonight why he's one of the best in Vermont, regardless of divisions," U-32 coach Dave Pickel said.

The deadlock snapped a 13-game win streak for the Raiders (13-1-1), whose only loss this year came against the Bulldogs in the season-opener.

Burr and Burton (11-3-1) had won 10 games in a row prior to the rematch and left with a bittersweet tie.

The Bulldogs held one of the state's top attacking units -- U-32 averaged 6.2 goals a game before Wednesday -- to a season-low output but didn't get the full points from a game they led for more than 40 minutes.

"It was non-stop. It's a lot of work, kind of like a practice, where it's just shot after shot," Stewart said. "They're tough, they're really tough."

The Bulldogs dove into the clash headfirst, however, snagging a two-goal lead inside three minutes.

On the first strike, Andrew Filippi hit Sean Paradis on the tape of his stick with a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, setting the senior winger free on goal. Paradis cut across the crease and slipped a backhand past Jordan Blais (18 saves).

Twenty seconds later, Brock Pollard streaked down the right slot to bury the puck high on the gloveside for a 2-0 BBA lead 2 minutes 34 seconds into the first period.

"You can call it bus legs, you can call it whatever, but I'm calling it a lack of urgency. I don't think we wanted the game bad enough [at the start]," Pickel said.

Tyler Elliott halved the deficit for U-32 with a vicious, one-time slap shot with 1:35 left in the first. It was the game's only power play goal.

It took the Raiders another half hour to draw level.

During the span, Stewart denied Shane O'Neill 1-on-1, recovering from a deke to the right with a spin to the left in the crease to swat away the backhand attempt. The netminder also saw crucial, timely cover from senior defenseman Bennett Timmerman.

"[Timmerman] played very well," Herrington said. "He's good in the passing lanes, he's a big kid. Four years ago he was a speedskater ... his effort tonight shows a lot about who he is and what he means to this team."

Forrest Smith sniped the equalizer with 1:22 left. Straddling the BBA blue line, he collected a long, defense-splitting pass from Cooper Hatch before charging in on the Bulldogs' netminder.

Each squad killed off three penalties in the third period -- and the Bulldogs closed out the last 1:07 of overtime down a man to cap the frantic finish.

"You've got two quality clubs, two clubs striving to be the best they can be, and for the last two years we always seem to get in each others' way," Pickel said. "I'd be quite happy if we didn't have to see them again until the finals."