Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- Winner, winner, Megan Grabher.
With 4 minutes, 46 seconds, left in the third period of a tied hockey game between Burr and Burton Academy and Middlebury, BBA’s Grabher managed to free herself on a breakaway with the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey.
Down the ice she went, and right outside of the goal Grabher deked in front of Middlebury goalie Baily Ryan, freeing up enough space for Grabher to pull her stick back to the right and just eke the puck over the line to give the Bulldogs an important 3-2 win their over Lake Division foe.
"I was just really excited," Grabher said of her opportunity. "Time was running out and I had a lot of energy. We were all working hard and just having fun out on the ice."
The game was a thrilling contest from start to finish.
BBA got on the board first five minutes into the opening period as Grabher scored the opener.
Daisy Sullivan and Kristi Lewicki set up the play, with Sullivan finding Lewicki and then to Grabher. Grabher let go of her shot, and Ryan seemed to have the save made. But the goalie was unable to cover the puck, and instead it fell out of her grasp and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
But just 20 seconds later, Middlebury would tie things up.
Lauren Bartlett tallied, taking a pass from Alli White and firing her shot past BBA goalie Kaylie Benson to tie things up.
Burr and Burton would take the lead back, though, before the period ended.
With Middlebury called for a tripping penalty with 1:33 left in the period, the Bulldogs went on the power play and converted less than a minute later.
Lucy Bisselle started the sequence when she put a shot on net. Ryan did well to make the save, but could not cover the puck up. With a loose puck right inside the crease, captain Mary Leech was there at the left post to slam the puck home and give the Bulldogs a 2-1 break heading into the first intermission.
"It seemed like the puck wasn’t bouncing for us tonight," Middlebury coach Tim Howlett said. "We weren’t winning foot races. 50/50 battles went in BBA’s favor. They came prepared and we didn’t."
The Tigers tied things up again with 11:09 to play in the second.
Julia Carone scored the goal, hitting a shot from the blue line that was able to sneak past Benson high on her stick side.
"I thought on that goal, [Benson] had a clear view but it was one of those freak things," said BBA coach Ed Lewicki. "99 out of 100 times, she saves it."
And if Benson had any doubts on the second goal, she redeemed herself to start the third period.
Timi Carone, the captain for Middlebury, let go of a wicked shot that seemed destined to beat Benson and give the Tigers the lead, but Benson was able to get her leg pad onto the puck to clear the danger.
The winner was set up when Middlebury’s Julia Carone was whistled for a penalty to give BBA a man advantage. But before the Bulldogs could get through the power play, Leech was whistled for a penalty herself, making it a 4-on-4 affair.
And as the Bulldogs’ special teams have done all season, BBA answered the call with the goal.
"Our power play has been strong this year. Real strong," Ed Lewicki said. "And to get the one like we did when it was 4-on-4, yeah, our special teams has been very good."
The Bulldogs were not in the clear yet, however, once Grabher scored the goal. With just under five minutes left in the game, Middlebury went on the offense.
But Benson was saved from most of the onslaught, as the BBA defense was able to step up and block shots before the puck could get into Benson’s crease.
"Really, it was taking the body and not looking at the puck," Ryder Ferrone said of the team’s defensive effort.
Lewicki added that: "We held them to low teens [shooting] and outshot them today, and it was because of our five defenders. It was a huge defensive effort by our team as a whole."
BBA moves to 5-1 with the win, while Middlebury falls to 5-1.