BANGOR – The Gardiner hockey team should take a two-week break more often. Or make it a practice to jog outside before its away games.
Or follow whatever new habit prompted the Tigers to stake themselves to a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a 6-2 win over Foxcroft Wednesday at Sawyer Arena.
“I was skeptical about how we would do away. I thought we might be sluggish,” said Gardiner coach Chris Buck. “We did laps before in the parking lot. We’ve never done that. But they feel the season crunch time coming on.”
Because of the recent ice storm, Gardiner did not have school – or practice – for two weeks and a number of games were postponed. The Tigers got in one practice Tuesday and took a deep breath as they prepare to play seven games in two weeks starting next week.
As it turned out, Gardiner was powerful in the first period as it outshot Foxcroft 25-6, it was strong on the power play where it went 1-for-2, and it was sensational on the penalty kill.
In the third period, Gardiner not only maintained a forecheck during Foxcroft’s two power plays, it got a short-handed goal from Joe Hersom, who scored on a breakaway to put the game away.
“Whenever we can get over 30 shots, we’ll win 90 percent of the time,” said Buck, whose Tigers outshot the Ponies 46-25 in the game.
The Tigers got on top quick, and that was the difference in the game.
After Tom Veilleux knocked in a Scott Hersom rebound 5 minutes, 45 seconds into the first period, Andy Nagy came back to lift in a Jimmy Moore rebound only 24 seconds later. Tom Faunce found a Veilleux rebound with 3:01 left to make it 3-0 at the end of the first.
“We just had a lot of shots on net. We rarely get rebounds. Tonight we were crashing the net a lot,” said the 6-foot-4 Veilleux, who haunted Foxcroft goalie Ben Orton.
Foxcroft, which fell to 4-7, switched its offense in the second when it sent in two men on the forecheck. The result was that the Tigers outshot the Ponies by only two in the last two periods. Foxcroft’s defense also played much tighter in the third, where it allowed Gardiner seven shots.
The changes made a difference as the Ponies closed the second with a goal from Seth Condon and opened the third with one from Skip Smith to make it 5-2 with 11:18 left.
But when Gardiner’s Joe Hersom flew from the blue line down the center to beat Orton on the far side during a Foxcroft power play, the Tigers regained the momentum.
“We need to play hard for three periods,” Foxcroft coach Paul Henderson said. “We haven’t done that since the new year.”
Tigers 6, Ponies 2 Gardiner (5-3) 3 2 1 – 6 Foxcroft (4-7) 0 1 1 – 2
First period – 1. Gardiner, Veilleux (Hersom, Faunce), 5:45; 2. Gardiner, Nagy (Moore), 6:09; 3. Gardiner, Faunce (Veilleux, Hersom), 11:59; Penalties: Gardiner, Brayley, interference, 7:14
Second period – 4. Gardiner, Hersom (Keyes, Veilleux), :47 (pp); 5. Gardiner, Bickford (Moore, Gay), 2:08; Foxcroft, Condon (Preston, R. Orton), 12:32; Penalties: Foxcroft, Condon, interference, :16; Foxcroft, Lebel, checking from behind, 6:27; Gardiner, Draper, interference, 7:57; Foxcroft, Brooks, interference, 7:57; Foxcroft, Kluj, interference, 8:25; Gardiner, Hersom, slashing, 8:25; Gardiner, Keyes, tripping, 13:35
Third period – 7. Foxcroft, Smith (Preston, Lebel), 11:18; 8. Gardiner, Hersom (Draper), 6:13 (sh); Penalties: Gardiner, Gould, interference, 5:55; Gardiner, Brayley, hitting from behind and game misconduct, 11:56
Shots on goal: Gardiner 25-16-7-31; Foxcroft 6-10-9-25
Goaltenders: Gardiner, Robbie Gay; Foxcroft, Ben Orton
Power-play Opportunities: Gardiner 1 of 2; Foxcroft 0 of 4
Attendance: 25 (est.)