Story by John Bonnette
Photos by Ben Kaufmann
County Courier

ST. ALBANS – The BFA-St. Albans Bobwhites started Wednesday’s game shorthanded with unavailable players and coaches and then spent most of the first two periods shorthanded on the ice, but the defending champions still managed to outlast Champlain Valley Union 3-0 to remain undefeated this season.

After knocking off Potsdam twice this past weekend in New York, the Bobwhites (6-0) found themselves without Head Coach Toby Ducolon and three skaters including Captain Matt Merrill due to illness as they prepared for their first Division I battle of the New Year.

“Normally that trip over to New York is tough and rugged and our guys don’t normally play two games in a row like that on a weekend so that was a good test,” BFA Assistant Coach Ben Roberts said. “It is good to be back. CVU was a good test and we were happy to see what we saw.”

“The importance of staying fives (out of the penalty box) especially when you have a little shorter bench (was evident),” Roberts said. “We are shuffling guys around and playing with different lines so It put us in a tough spot, but I am proud of the way we battled and how we were able to get through it.”

For most of the first period it appeared the only thing that could slow the Bobwhite offense down was themselves as they picked up one more penalty (3) then goals (2) while holding CVU to just 3 total first period shots.

Moments after BFA had killed its first penalty of the night, Sean Beauregard took a puck off the boards to slip out of the Bobwhite zone and then raced down the left boards before sliding a pass to Liam Wood at the CVU (2-4-1) blue line. Wood then cut toward the middle of the ice before sending the puck across to Aiden Savoy, who wasted no time beating Red Hawk netminder Jack Averill’s (18 saves) high glove-side for a 1-0 lead just over three minutes in.

“It is something we talked about earlier this week about wingers getting low and doing a good job of supporting the defensemen and chipping it to space for the guy to fill the lane so that was perfectly executed,” Roberts said.“ Then it is not a mystery when Aiden Savoy gets the puck around the net, he has his eyes up and he is going to find it and he is going to pick it.”

The Bobwhites would double the lead midway through the period as BFA worked the puck low-to-high in the CVU zone before Gavin Clark drilled a low shot from the right point that Corbin Schreindorfer redirected in front to make it 2-0 with 8:33 left in the first period. 

“Jake Averill is a really good goalie. If he sees it he is going to stop it,” Roberts said. “So something we talked about pregame and earlier this week was that we have to get in front of him and take his eyes away. It is going to be a rebound or a tip you are not going to score on Averill off the initial shot.”

Much to the dissatisfaction of Roberts, the second period saw the Bobwhite have to kill off four CVU powerplays to keep the game at 2-0. In total, the second period saw the teams combine for 18 penalty minutes in the first ten minutes of the second period.

“It was definitely a battle and something we talked about before the game that we needed to make sure that we stayed 5-on-5 especially being down a few guys and with a little shorter bench then we are used to,” Roberts said. “We had seven defensemen tonight and a couple of guys who necessarily haven’t played as much as of late so it was a good opportunity for us to show what we have depth wise, not ideal but we got through it.”

Collin Audy would knock in an empty netter with thirteen seconds left to finish the scoring, while Michel Telfer was turned away all sixteen shots he faced to earn the shutout.

“Telfer was solid tonight,” Roberts said. “He did a good job getting us timely faceoffs and really helped out some of our younger yellow with moving the pucks to them,” Roberts said. 

“Telfer has been excellent and he is really starting to come into it. We are happy with what we are seeing.”

The Bobwhites hope to get some players and coaches back as they look to stay undefeated when they travel to Spaulding this Saturday.

“We have to stay fives first and foremost because I think that it is not going to be a one-time thing (being short players) and we are going to have people out from time to time,” Roberts said. “So when you get a shorter bench and are mixing lines around and guys are different we have to make sure we are staying 5-on-5.

“I think we saw a lot of good things out of this game. I was really happy with our compete level. CVU works really hard and I think we matched and beat them out on that. We have a lot of good things going on as we go into the weekend.”