Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- With two weeks to go in the regular season, Burr and Burton Academy and Northfield have already established their bona fides as part of a powerhouse quartet atop the Lake Division.
Should their rematch end up part of a semifinal round featuring that emerging Big Four -- league-leader U-32 and Brattleboro are the other half -- all signs point to another exciting showdown.
But for now, at least, the Bulldogs can breathe a little easier after weathering a four-goal third period to deal the Marauders a 5-3 defeat, snapping their 14-game winning streak.
Senior forward Sean Paradis scored the final three goals the Bulldogs (14-3-1), including an empty-netter with 12 seconds left, to keep Northfield (14-3-1) at bay.
And senior goaltender Zack Stewart, in what's becoming a refrain for the Bulldogs, delivered another game-breaking performance with 34 saves -- including a half-dozen breakaway-busters and an array of sprawling moves in the crease.
"I thought they were very opportunistic tonight. They played smart and their goaltender played the way he plays," said Northfield coach Paul Clayton. "You could say he was hot, but I don't think he was hot. He's that good."
Burr and Burton, unbeaten in its last 14 games, held the Marauders' high-scoring duo of Jackson Tucker (one goal) and Jackson Watson (two assists) to just three points.
Twice in both the second and third periods, Stewart stoned Tucker in 1-on-1 scenarios after the Northfield junior broke loose behind the defense.
"We didn't do as good a job as I hoped against them. We wanted to make sure we were playing the body and keep someone on them the whole time, but [Tucker] got free a little bit and fortunately Zack had a great game," BBA coach Herrington said.
A lofted pass from Matt Mullen set Andy Ishu free for the Bulldogs' opener in the sixth minute.
Thirty-seven seconds after Northfield equalized on the power play, Paradis teed up Henry Buckley for a blistering slapshot to go up 2-1 on a power play of their own.
Ishu followed the goal with crucial forechecking pressure on a penalty kill later in the frame, making sure the Marauders didn't level the score a second time.
"Coach always says you've got to go hard and push up, you don't want to let them set up, and this was a game where I really got that in my head," Ishu said.
Bennett Timmerman set up Paradis' first goal, in the second period, that gave the hosts a 3-1 advantage entering the third. And after Tucker pulled one back with 11:38 left in regulation, Timmerman again found Paradis, who beat Northfield goalie Ben Tucker (20 saves) with a backhand to make it 4-2.
Jeremy Quelch knocked in the Marauders third goal, with 3:07 to go. But Stewart and the Bulldogs survived the final minutes -- and a brief 6-on-4 stint after Northfield pulled the goalie on a power play with 1:10 left -- to secure the win.
BBA is now level with Brattleboro and Northfield in the standings, a three-way tie for second behind U-32.
"We did some things that usually those go in and when they don't go in you've got to try something else. We just waited too long to try something else," Clayton said.