BANGOR – If points were given in hockey for amount of puck possession and triumphs in one-on-one battles for the puck, the Orono High School Red Riots would have cruised to an easy victory over the John Bapst Crusaders at Sawyer Arena on Monday evening.
But they don’t and John Bapst High School goalie Carl Buffington again proved he is something special.
Buffington stopped 29 of 30 shots, losing his chance at a fourth consecutive shutout with 7:45 left in the third period, to enable the Crusaders to beat the undermanned Riots 3-1.
John Bapst is now 7-3 after winning its fourth in a row while Orono fell to 2-5.
Despite playing only two lines and four defensemen, the Riots dominated the game through two periods only to find themselves trailing 3-0.
Against the run of play, John Bapst received first-period goals from Derek Damon and Nate Susi and a second-period score from Jason Ashley.
Eric Powers scored for Orono.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Buffington, a Bangor native who transferred back here from the Westminster School in Simsbury, Conn., was immense as he made at least 10 high-percentage saves over the first two periods.
He also came 40 feet out of his net to pokecheck the puck away from Orono’s Adam Sewall in the first period.
“He’s the best goalie I’ve ever played against,” said Orono co-captain Tom Hite. “He was unbelievable on point-blank shots.”
“I played all right,” said Buffington. “The defense did so well clearing out the second shots. Rebounds give goalies trouble. Orono has a good team. They’re definitely underrated. They played well.”
Damon gave John Bapst a 1-0 lead at the 9:02 mark of the first period off a two-on-one with Nate Waring.
Waring broke down the left wing and slid it across to the far post to Damon.
“The goalie (Stuart Cady) came across with me, I saw the opening between his pads and got off a backhander,” said Damon.
Susi scored off a nice individual effort with only 20 seconds left in the period.
He poked the puck around freshman defenseman Robert Murdoch at the left point in the defensive zone and sped past him along the boards as Murdoch wasn’t able to put a body on him.
“The other defenseman was coming over, I cut across and got off a quick shot,” said Susi, who added that his backhander slipped through Cady’s left arm.
Ashley’s second-period goal came off a feed from behind the net by Damon.
“One of their defenseman left Jason and came to me so I put it out to him,” said Damon.
“I just one-timed it,” said Ashley, whose 10-footer snaked between Cady’s arm and his body.
Powers broke Buffington’s shutout streak by beating him with a low 16-foot wrist shot from the slot off a Sewall pass.
Buffington made a good stop on Noah Lundy’s point-blank chip a little later and Bapst held on.
Crusaders 3, Red Riots 1 John Bapst 2 1 0 – 3 Orono 0 0 1 – 1
First Period – 1. JB, Damon (Waring, Fisher), 9:02; 2. JB, Susi (unassisted), 14:40. Penalties – Orono, Holmes, hitting after the whistle, 14:40.
Second Period – 3. JB, Jason Ashley (Damon, Jared Ashley), 10:45. Penalties – JB, Raczek, hooking, 8:25.
Third Period – 4. Orono, Powers (Sewall), 7:15. Penalties – Orono, Lundy, boarding, 4:10; JB, Todd, hooking, 8:47; Orono, Cady, delay of game (served by Berry), 10:29.
Shots on goal: John Bapst 8-5-15 – 28; Orono 10-10-10 – 30
Goaltenders: John Bapst, Carl Buffington; Orono, Stuart Cady
Power plays: John Bapst 0-3, Orono 0-2