Milton celebrates after the final whistle in Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Burlington (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)


By Ben Kaufmann

HIGHGATE – Milton was dominant in Saturday’s playdown against visiting Burlington, finally breaking through a phenomenal goalie to net a 4-0 win and advance to a quarterfinal on Wednesday.

No. 14 Burlington (2-19) benefitted from an impressive goaltending performance by Steven Labombard, who made 40 saves against the No. 3 Yellow Jackets (14-6-1). Labombard turned away 19 shots in the first period alone, leaving Milton a little nervous about what might happen if BHS got a break at goalie Teddy Munson – who, by comparison, was tasked with making one save in the first.

“When you have a goalie like they do and you put that many shots, you always get nervous because your goalie isn’t in that rhythm so if they come down and take a shot, you just don’t know,” said Milton coach Bryant Perry.

Fortunately for the hosts, a breakthrough came with just over a minute left in the opening period. Cooper Goodrich beat Labombard from the blue line but the puck came down off the crossbar and somehow avoided crossing the goal line. Riley Zeno hopped at the puck and pulled Labombard away, leaving an open net for Braden Mathieu to give Milton a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

Things balanced a bit in the second period as Milton only put 10 shots on goal and Munson was tasked with making six saves – including his most impressive of the night on a point-blank shot with 50 seconds left in the period. Owen Severy gave the Yellow Jackets a little breathing room with just under five minutes left in the frame, taking a pass from Goodrich and snapping in a goal from the middle of the faceoff circle just 16 seconds into the first power play of the day for either team.

A pair of quick passes from Logan Grimms to Carter Milo set up a one-timer from Zorion Seaman for a 3-0 Milton lead less than three minutes into the third. Of all the things Milton did well on Saturday, Perry seemed most pleased with his team breaking down the defensive-minded Seahorses to create Seaman’s goal.

“It was some beautiful passing there at the end for that third one,” Perry said. “We were talking to them about making the extra pass. If they’re clogging the middle, make that extra pass and that’s what we did there at the end.”

Just a minute after diving across his own crease to help Munson preserve the shutout midway through the third, Goodrich was taking off on a breakaway. He pulled Labombard to the right, then dragged the puck and slipped in a backhand finish to Labombard’s left to cap to Milton scoring. Those two plays, Perry said, exemplify the drive Goodrich and his teammates share.

“It’s his senior year, he’s laying it all out there. He’s a captain that’s putting everyone on his shoulders and doing whatever it takes,” Perry said. “We’ve definitely got leadership and that’s what we need. Whether you’re a senior or a freshman, you’ve got to lead.”

Munson stopped all 10 shots on goal he faced to earn the shutout victory. Milton’s attention now turns to Wednesday and a visit from No. 11 Burr & Burton, which upset No. 6 Harwood on Saturday in overtime.  The two sides squared off once this year, with Milton beating the Bulldogs 6-1 on January 22nd. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 on Wednesday at Highgate Arena.