CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team got its first win of 2020 and made sure there will be no undefeated teams in Division III in the process. Playing inspired team hockey, the Eagles edged previously unbeaten Belmont-Gilford 3-2 in an overtime thriller at the Ham Ice Arena in Conway Village on Wednesday. The hometown flock burst into celebration when senior Connor Tofflemoyer’s blast from the point flew into the roof of the visitor’s net 4:59 into overtime.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Kennett and got the hometown flock back to .500 on the season at 3-3.
Belmont-Gilford fell to 4-1 on the winter with the loss.
“This was a big win,” Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “It’s probably the biggest win that we’ve had in a couple of seasons. It’s our first one true win against a team above us in the standings in a couple of years.”
He added: “Our kids played great. We knew it was going to take a complete game and that’s what we got from everyone.”
The win was all the more impressive as the Eagles were once again shorthanded. The team has been without talented winger Colby Hall, who sustained a knee injury in the Peter Hall Holiday Classic Tournament on Dec. 26, and its inspirational leader, senior defenseman Reilly “Sheepdog” Murphy, who fractured his fibula against Alvirne on Jan. 2.
Both are making progress in their rehabs with Hall hoping to return to the ice in the near future, while Murphy is targeting mid-February.
The Eagles and Bull Dogs played end-to-end hockey in an exciting but scoreless opening period.
Kennett broke the ice with a power-play goal just 43 seconds into the second period. Miles Woodbury banged home a rebound with assists going to Dom Jones and Tofflemoyer.
The Eagles doubled their advantage 35 seconds later when juniors John Trapela and Matt Cormier connected. Trapela sent Cormier in on a breakaway and he beat the B-G goalie to his glove side, making it 2-0.
KHS looked in control in the third period but the Bull Dogs showed they still had some bark left and struck for a pair of goals only 30 seconds apart with 4:45 and 4:15 to play.
B-G nearly got the game-winner after that but Kennett goalie Bryson Wrobleski came up big between the pipes. He had 29 saves on the night but none bigger than when he thwarted a breakaway with just 90 ticks left on the clock in regulation play.
In the 8-minute overtime, both teams created chances with the best opportunity early falling to the Bull Dogs who got behind the KHS defense. However, Wrobleski made the save to keep the game going.
“Bryson certainly played great,” Lane said. “I thought defensively, we had our best game of the season. (Tofflemoyer, Colby Olivier, Brady Shaw and Sam Seavey) really did a nice job of denying Belmont-Gilford entry into the zone.”
Kennett netted the game-winner off a good forecheck with sophomore Gracie Murphy winning the puck and feeding Trevor LaRusso, who fed it to the top of the circle to Tofflemoyer, who made no mistake with his top-shelf rocket.
“It was a beautiful shot under the crossbar,” Lane said.
The Eagles, who held their seventh annual Dine to Donate fundraiser at Tuckerman's Restaurant and Tavern on Route 16A in Intervale on Thursday night, are scheduled back into action this Saturday when Hollis-Brookline/Derryfield (4-1) is slated to visit Ham Arena for a 6 p.m. game, weather-permitting.