Milton's Owen Severy scores the game-winning goal during the Yellowjackets' semifinal win over Stowe on Saturday. (Greg Lamoureux, County Courier)



HIGHGATE – With two minutes to go in the second period of its semifinal game against Stowe on Saturday, things looked bleak for the Milton boys hockey team.

The Yellow Jackets were trailing 3-0 with just over two minutes to go in the middle frame and were heading to the penalty kill.

The third-seeded Yellow Jackets didn’t let that phase them, as they scored two goals on that penalty kill to grab all the momentum heading into the second intermission. They took that momentum into the third period and ended up scoring two more times to complete the comeback and come away with a 4-3 win over the No. 7 Raiders to advance to the Division II championship next Friday at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

“When they went up 3-0, I was pretty close to calling a timeout, but I wanted to save it and I believed in the kids and knew they had it in them to dig out of the hole we were in,” said Milton coach Bryant Perry. “When we played down at Stowe earlier this year, we were down 2-0 and came back and tied it 2-2, so I knew the guys had it in them and was just a matter of time.”

The Yellow Jackets were sparked by the stellar offense of Owen Severy who finished the game with a hat trick, scoring the final three goals for the team including the game-winner with just over a minute to go in the third period.

With the game tied 3-3 and Stowe deep in the Milton zone, the Raiders attempted to pass the puck back to the defenseman at the blue line. The puck got away from the Stowe player and Severy beat him to the puck for a breakaway and he didn’t waste the opportunity flipping the shot past Stowe goalie Liam Newhouse (28 saves) for the game-winner.

“I’m kind of in shock right now,” said Severy. “I am still soaking it all in from what just happened.”

Milton came out of the gates firing on all cylinders to begin the game, as they outshot Stowe 11-3 in the first period. But by the end of the first frame, it was Stowe with the 1-0 lead after Woody Reichelt picked up a pass from Aaron Lepikko behind the Milton net. Reichelt deked out a defender and sent a wristshot just inside the far post.

It was Stowe’s turn to come out firing on all cylinders to begin the second period as they tallied a pair of goals in the opening four minutes from Lepikko and Adrian Bryan. They both assisted on each other’s goals as Stowe extended the lead to 3-0 and seemed to be running away with the game despite Milton outshooting them throughout the course of the game.

“I said between the first and second period when we were down that I didn’t know what to tell them because we were dominating,” said Perry. “It was just reiterating getting shots on net, getting rebounds, getting in front of the net, so it was just one of those things where we had to keep doing what we were doing and dug in toward the end.”

With just over two minutes to go in the second, Milton headed to the penalty box after being called for interference. When it seemed like Stowe was going to take the momentum back to the locker room, things changed in Milton’s favor quickly. Caleb Barnier skated the puck in behind the Stowe net and outworked the defender and snapped a shot that found its way into the net to breathe some life into the Yellow Jackets.

“I gave Caleb the game puck, because I told the guys down 3-0 we had to start taking some chances,” said Perry. “That gave us the momentum in a crucial time in the game.”

Just a minute later, Cooper Goodrich blocked a shot attempt by Stowe in Milton’s zone and skated in on a two-on-one with Severy. He dished the puck over to Severy who buried the shot and made it a 3-2 game going into the second intermission with all the momentum in Milton’s favor.

“Who wouldn’t want Cooper on their team?” said Perry. “He knows when he needs to take over and we give him free reign to do that and trust his ability. He unselfishly gave it up to Owen and that was a huge moment for us in the game.”

Milton’s Cooper Goodrich skates the puck into the Stowe one during Saturday’s semifinal win over Stowe. (Anthony Labor Jr, County Courier)

Midway through the third, Severy knotted things up with Milton on the powerplay. He found himself with space in the slot and sent a low shot that went 5-hole on Newhouse and tied the game 3-3 setting up his game-winning goal later in the period.

“I told him to just keep it simple, do your thing and don’t try and do too much,” said Perry. “He went back to his mode and did what he has been doing all year.”

After letting up the three goals in the first half of the game, Milton goalie Teddy Munson settled in nicely, as he finished the game with 15 saves, including some big saves in the second period with the team down 3-0.

“Teddy came back and made some great saves and got himself back in the groove,” said Goodrich. “He really kept us in that game.”

Milton’s Teddy Munson covers the puck during the second period of Saturday’s semifinal win over Stowe. (Anthony Labor Jr, County Courier)

Special teams was big for the Yellow Jackets on Saturday, as they were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and added the two shorthanded goals late in the second.

They were also 1-for-3 on the powerplay with Severy’s tally with the man-advantage tying the game up.

“We have been relying on our special teams all year long,” said Perry. “We might have had one shorthanded goal all year, but we were just looking to do what Stowe was doing to us in looking for those breaks and taking off and that’s what we did and capitalized.”

Milton will have its hands full in the title game going up against top-ranked Hartford. The Hurricanes enter the game undefeated having defeated No. 4 Mt. Mansfield 4-1 on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes faced off once in the regular season with Hartford coming away with the 5-3 win on its home ice.

“Hartford is a strong team and well-coached,” said Perry. “They have a long bus ride to come up this way and we have a high-powered offense, so should be an up-and-down game on the bigger sheet of ice at Gutterson.”

The Yellow Jackets (16-6-1) advance to Friday’s championship game where they will take on No. 1 Hartford (22-0). This will be Milton’s eighth trip to the finals making it back to Gutterson Fieldhouse after falling in the 2020 championship game in overtime. They will be looking to bring home their first hockey title since 1982.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing we are going back to the Gut,” said Goodrich, who played in the 2020 final as a sophomore. “For those of us that were there a couple of years ago, we have unfinished business, so we are ready to end on a big note next week.”

***Check back tomorrow for an even bigger photo gallery from Milton’s big win***

Photos by Anthony Labor Jr., Greg Lamoureux and Rachel Lamoureux