Preps: Deerfield Academy boys hockey scores late, knocks off NMH 5-3

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 12-06-2023 8:56 PM

GILL — It was a high-scoring affair between the Northfield Mount Hermon and Deerfield Academy hockey teams on Wednesday. 

NMH and DA were tied 3-3 heading into the final 18 minutes of action, but the Big Green opened the third period with four minutes, 56 seconds remaining on a power play after the Hoggers were whistled for a major penalty with four seconds to go in the second. 

NMH managed to kill off the five-minute major however, and killed off an additional two-minute penalty that took place just as the major penalty was expiring. 

Despite not capitalizing on the nearly seven-minute man advantage, the Big Green kept up the pressure. With 4:20 to play, Lance Roberts stole the puck in the Hogger end and slid a pass over to Cam Herr who ripped a shot top shelf to give DA the late lead. 

NMH emptied the net in the final minutes but Roberts sealed the win by potting an empty-net goal with 28 seconds left, lifting the Big Green to a 2-0 start on the season via a 5-3 road victory at McCollum Arena. 

“We stuck together,” Deerfield Academy coach Tim McVaugh said. “We were maybe pressing too much when we had that long power play. I thought once we got back to 5-on-5 we relaxed a bit, passed the puck and went back to playing our hockey. We had three guys typically on the power play out [of the lineup].

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“That power play was good because we were passing but we didn’t create a ton,” McVaugh continued. “A lot of those combinations hadn’t played together. Once the power play ended we were able to get going which sounds crazy because you never want the power play to end. Once it did end we were able to go back to the basics and play our hockey.” 

It was a disappointing result for NMH, which sits at 2-2 on the season. The Hoggers were able to gain momentum back in the second period but the long penalty kill in the third sent them out of rhythm the rest of the way. 

“It’s hard to get back in sync after that,” NMH coach Jake Bennett said. “Our PK unit has been great. We’re over 90 percent on the year which is all you can ask from the group. Our goaltending has been great with Luke Laurino. He’s making all the saves he’s supposed to make. We were really good in the second period where it was 5-on-5. We could roll, we can play and we have four lines who can score. We just have to be able to play them all.” 

DA came out flying to open the game. Tommy Augustine looked like he scored the opening goal of the game with 8:55 to go in the first for the Big Green but referees disallowed the tally as the net moved off the stanchion. 

Deerfield ended up taking the early lead with 5:42 to go in the first, with Justin Tavares smashing in a rebound off a shot from Nate Watson. Jakub Kohn was also credited with an assist on the play. 

With 3:45 to go in the first, and on the power play, the Big Green struck again. Setting up in the NMH zone Ben Cook sent a pass over to Kohn who bashed it home to give DA a 2-0 lead. 

“My message to the guys was that we had to start hot because they’re tough to play here,” McVaugh said. “I’m pleased with how we came out. It’s a great group. I don’t have to say much before the games; they’re ready to go.” 

Just before the first period came to a close the Hoggers struck to get back in the game. Paul Wiczek got the puck in the neutral zone, fired a pass over to a streaking Blake Baksay who raced in on the rush and sniped a shot past DA goalie Elliot Lennon to cut the lead to 2-1 with 11 seconds to go in the first. 

Deerfield once again capitalized on the power play early in the second period. Herr got the puck, sent it over to Augustine in the left circle and he rocketed a shot home to give DA a 3-1 lead with 12:37 to go in the second. 

NMH came out firing from that point on in the period. Wiczek sent a pass to Baksay, who put a deke on Lennon and snuck it around the blocker to cut the lead to 3-2 with 9:24 to go in the frame. 

With 55 seconds left, and on the power play, the Hoggers tied the game. Max Myagkov drove to the middle of the ice, sent a drop pass back to Dan Tracy who blistered a shot into the back of the net to make it a 3-3 game going into the third. 

“We had 19 great minutes between that last shift in the first into the second period,” Bennett said. “We played great and possessed the puck. Blake Baksay was awesome. He had tons of plays and has those two great individual efforts for goals. It was nice seeing a freshman like Dan Tracy get his first goal. We were rolling, had the momentum but the major penalty let the pendulum swing back their way. We held on as long as we could.” 

With a veteran team, McVaugh said he’s hoping his team learned from mistakes made last year and keeps their foot on the gas throughout the season. 

“We just have to keep getting better,” McVaugh said. “We have a lot of veterans who went through the ups-and-downs of last year. I think through that they learned you can’t be satisfied. It’s nice to rattle off a couple wins but if you don’t continue to get better, you’ll start losing games. In prep hockey the good teams always are getting better. Even if you’re playing well there’s always room for improvement. The veteran guys know that and are going to set the right tone.” 

Bennett has the total opposite experience, with nearly a brand new roster from last year. Gaining chemistry and learning how to win are the keys he mentioned moving forward. 

“Right now we’re proving we win the games we’re supposed to win and lose the games we’re supposed to lose,” Bennett said. “We’re DraftKings’ favorite team. We just have to start winning those games. We’re close. We had a great one on Saturday with Westminster and a great one today. We just have to get over the hump. With 22 of our 25 guys being new to the roster, it’s a lot. You have to learn how to win. Once we get that one I see this group going on a roll.” 

Boys basketball

Four Rivers 43, Eagle Hill 35 – Cooper Whitney poured in a team-high 18 points, helping the Otters to a 43-35 win in their season opener on Wednesday in Hardwick.

Isaiah Goleman joined Whitney in double figures with 12 points, and Caleb Bird-Richards also reached double-digits with 10. The Otters next host BART on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Stoneleigh-Burnham School.