Late penalty goes against BBA in defeat

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MANCHESTER — For 44 minutes on Wednesday night, things seemed to be going well for the Burr and Burton girls hockey team.

Everything started to go sideways in the 45th minute, though.

Taking advantage of a questionable penalty call on BBA, Middlebury's Bella Gale scored on a power play goal with 30 seconds left, the game-winner in a 3-1 victory for the Tigers.

The game was tied at 1-1 heading into the final minutes with overtime seemingly imminent. With one minute left, a BBA and Middlebury player went after a loose puck and both went to the ice. The referee immediately called a tripping penalty on the Bulldogs, putting the Tigers on the power play for the rest of regulation.

"Let's go back to the first period," said BBA coach Ed Lewicki soon after the final whistle. "I said from the bench that there was a hook, [my player] was grabbed by the hands, and I got a warning. So I was immediately on notice. But when two people are going hard after a 50-50 puck, how can you make that call when they both fall to the ice? I think it should be a play on and let the game be decided in overtime.

Seconds into the power play, BBA's Stella Turner had her stick slashed by a Middlebury player, breaking in the process. With no penalty called and in the scramble of getting a new stick, Middlebury's Gale corralled the puck and poked it past BBA goalie Lola Herzog to take a 2-1 lead.

Lewicki was incensed and held up Turner's stick on the bench, asking no one in particular, "I guess it broke by itself?" He then turned and smashed the stick on the bench, earning a bench minor and keeping Middlebury on the power play.

"[The referee] directly affected the outcome of the game," Lewicki said. "Stella goes to play the puck and they two-hand slash her stick and it breaks. Where's the penalty? Games shouldn't be decided that way, we see it in professional sports. I think with 59 seconds left, you let that play out. Maybe Middlebury scores, but just let it play out."

After the game, Lewicki admitted that he had lost his cool and apologized to his team for his behavior.

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"[The bench minor] didn't give us a chance to tie the game," Lewicki said. "I thanked them for their effort. I need to be an example for the kids, when you work that hard to have it taken away in that fashion, it's frustrating. But I have to do a better job of channeling that frustration. I don't want my kids to behave like that."

Herzog had one of the best games in a list of them this year for the junior goalkeeper with 45 saves. At times, Herzog and the BBA defense kept the Bulldogs in contention.

Middlebury controlled play in the second quarter almost exclusively at the BBA end, but Herzog was up to the task. Early in the period, Middlebury had a 3-on-2 and she made the stop. Minutes later, Herzog had two saves back-to-back stopping a Middlebury rush.

With five minutes left in the second, BBA had its best chance up to that point and Tigers goalie Lydia Deppman made a tremendous diving stop on a Turner wraparound chance.

Turner wouldn't be denied at the end of the period. On a faceoff in the Middlebury zone, Turner cleaned up a rebound and flicked it past Deppman to give BBA a 1-0 lead heading into the third.

"We played a far superior team from a skills standpoint, but we had a lot of heart tonight," Lewicki said. We had a chance to have a faceoff at the Middlebury end and [assistant coach] Eddie [Lewicki] said we should put Stella at center. The puck bounces around and we're up 1-0."

BBA had a power play early in the third, but Middlebury killed it off. A couple minutes later, Audrey Schnoor got in past the defense and hit a wrist-shot over Herzog to tie the game at 1-1.

BBA almost got the lead back off a breakaway by Kilo Francomb, but Deppman made the stop to keep it tied at 1-1.

That set up the final minutes. Gale added an empty net goal at the buzzer for the final margin.

"We're getting better and hopefully we can get the job done against Hartford on Saturday," Lewicki said.


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