By Ben Kaufmann
HIGHGATE: Milton got its 2019/20 hockey season off to an impressive start on Saturday night, dominating Northfield and overcoming an elite goaltending performance to earn a 2-0 win over the Marauders.
Milton (1-0) fired 45 shots on the Northfield (0-1) net but went without a goal until the final minute of the second period. Cooper Goodrich chased his own rebound to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead with 24-seconds left in the second and Nick Desouza added an insurance goal in the third to give Milton the victory.
“Goaltending can certainly swing games but it was a matter of time before we broke the ice and we did,” said Milton coach Bryant Perry. “We held up defensively too and that was key.”
Northfield’s Dylan Partlow turned away 43 shots in a frustratingly impressive performance. Milton had already squandered nine minutes of power play and seen 23 shots turned away as the final seconds of the second period approached.
“I’ve coached that goalie before and I know how good he is,” Perry said of Partlow. “I told the guys he can see 50 shots and save them all, he’s that good. We just had to keep peppering him and hopefully we’d get a bounce.”
More frustration seemed to be on the menu when Goodrich finally beat Partlow with 30-seconds left in the second only to see his shot clang off the post. But the sophomore deftly followed his initial attempt and was able to knock the rebound in to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead at the second intermission.
“Cooper played well,” Perry said. “That’s what we practice with these guys: follow your shot, don’t give up on the play.”
A pair of quick passes just over four minutes into the third period gave Milton a needed cushion. Cameron Fougere sent the puck to Owen Perry, who immediately found Desouza near the goal for the finish and a 2-0 lead.
Jackson Ehler stopped 13 shots in earning the shutout for a Milton team primed to make noise in Division II this season.
The Yellowjackets have experience and a wealth of powerful athletes. Fougere and Goodrich were key figures on Milton’s soccer team, which reached the final four this fall before losing to eight-time defending champion Stowe. Their teammate, Desouza, was named the Lake Division Offensive Player Of The Year after a stellar campaign.
Jaxon Schaarschmidt played a big role on the ice for Milton on Saturday and was also the offensive catalyst for BFA-Fairfax on the football field this fall. Schaarschmidt, who plays for Milton due to the lack of a Fairfax hockey team, scored on a 75-yard touchdown run in November’s championship game against Poultney but was forced off the field with an injury on the final drive of the game as BFA fell 17-8.
“The leadership here is great, they’re bound and determined,” Perry said of his roster, which includes five seniors and eight juniors. “They excel in their fall sports, they excel in their winter sports and they’re going to excel in their spring sports. It is a very athletic team, we’ll just keep working hard and that’s what it’s about.”
Milton takes the ice again on Saturday against South Burlington.