Photo: Belmont’s assistant captain senior Evan Biette celebrates the first goal vs. Reading.
The Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey may have kept their fans on the edge of their seats until late in their home match with Reading Memorial High on Saturday, Jan. 16.
And with less than six minutes to go, two team captains sent the Belmont supporters leaping out of those same seats as the Marauders (4-4-2) roared back from two goals down to tie Rockets, 3-3, in an afternoon mantinee thriller at the Skip.
“For our guys, we’ve been waiting for a turning point where they realize they can win against the top teams in the league. And I have been waiting for them to respond like this and I’m hoping that we have tuned that corner,” said Belmont’s first year Head Coach Fred Allard.
Senior forward Dave Bailey’s shot from the right of the goal beat Reading’s junior goalie Devon Bruzzese on the power play with 3 minutes 51 seconds left in the game to secure the valuable one point to the one loss but five tie Rockets (3-1-5). The play started with a smart reaction on the blue line from junior defender Adam Cronin who found fellow defender, big Kevin Quick, who set Bailey up with the tough angle shot.
Bailey’s goal came 98 seconds after senior co-captain Cole Michael got the Marauders within a goal with a shot by Bruzzese’s glove from a great assist by sophomore linemate Steve Rizzuto.
Belmont was able to stay in the game in large part due to the smooth and steady goaltending of junior Cal Christofori who was helped by a few cross bars saves. While the Rockets were able to pepper Christofori in the first two periods, many of the shots were from distance due to the hard work from senior defenders co-captain Trey Butler and assistant captain Evan Biette to deny Reading’s forwards from collecting passes inside the slot.
It was Biette who put Belmont on top, 1-0, against the run of play with 2:48 left in the first period who, like Bailey, scored from a tight left side shot.
Reading’s top players which brought the Rockets back in the second period as junior Matt Thomson and junior speedster Kevin Tobin scored; Thomson pushing the puck past a prone Christofori who appeared to have made the save and Tobin showing some skating magic on the power play.
After Belmont went down by a pair early in the second, the Marauders appeared to be on the assent, just missing out on a second goal mid-way through the final 15 minutes from a quick whistle as the puck was bouncing around the goal mouth before rolling in.
Saying it “is a great group who now have to believe in themselves,” Allard said the team has one goal for the season; 20 points.
“We’re ten points from qualifying for the [MIAA post-season] tournament,” said Allard. “We have 20 points on the [drawing] board [in the locker room] and we are knocking the points off towards that goal which will be a return to the tournament in five years. It’s that simple. Keep knocking the points off until where at zero.”