Amity hockey team battles Maine powers during holiday break
Coach Gary Lindgren and his Amity hockey team are never shy for a challenge.
When Lindgren saw Hamden and his trip team’s trip to Maine to play some tough competition on the schedule, he, along with the team, embraced the challenge.
After opening the season with a pair of high-scoring victories, the Spartans have come across some solid teams.
Following an emotional loss to Hamden last week, the Spartans went up north to play undefeated Biddeford, Maine.
Scoring multiple goals in every period and shutting down the Amity offense other than Joe Bianchi, Zak Dykun and Corey Shea, Biddeford defeated Amity 8-3 last Tuesday night at Biddeford.
“They (Biddeford) were the defending champs in Division I last year,” Lindgren said. “They are a pretty solid team. Their offense revolved around four or five guys who handled the puck well.
“We did not have our legs. We were not in sync. It felt like we didn’t get off the bus until the second period. We were down 5-3 with seven minutes to go, took a penalty and they scored three power-play goals. They were good and we did not play well.”
Paced by Tysan Nadeau and Brady Fleurent, who each scored twice and added a pair of assists, Biddeford peppered Amity with 33 shots.
Amity goaltender Alec Mansfield made 25 saves but the Maine offense was too much for the Spartans to overcome.
“We have to get better in the defensive zone,” Lindgren said. “It’s just not the defense, but the forwards as well.”
Nadeau opened the scoring when he beat Mansfield with an unassisted goal just 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the game.
Amity, however, responded quickly as it did against Hamden, when Joe Bianchi scored just 16 seconds later to knot the game at 1.
Bianchi, Shea and Dykun accounted for all the Amity scoring. Bianchi scored all three goals, Shea assisted on all three tallies and Dykun assisted on two of the goals.
“They have played well.” Lindgren said. “That line is heavily relied on. We are trying to get more offense from the other forwards.”
While Bianchi gave Amity some life, that life was quickly altered 2:51 later when Travis Guay scored off assists from Nadeau and Scott Callahan.
Biddeford increased the lead to 3-1 when Fleurent scored with 2:09 to go in the opening period.
Bianchi tried to jumpstart his team in the second period. His goal just 11 seconds into the middle period cut the deficit to 3-2 but that momentum quickly faded.
Just 15 seconds after Bianchi’s second goal, Biddeford had a two-goal advantage once again.
Fleurent’s second goal, off an assist from Nick Gagne, gave Maine a 4-2 lead 26 seconds into the second period.
“That was a killer,” Lindgren said. “Joe Bianchi scored right off the faceoff with a nice snap shot and they scored right after. It was a killer. It was huge. We have to minimize our mistakes. Alec Mansfield keeps us in the games but we made too many mistakes against a good team.”
Fleurent’s goal kept the momentum on Biddeford’s side as Amity could not crack goaltender Jon Fields.
Maine did a nice job containing the Spartans until Fleurent assisted on Bryan Ballaire’s goal with 3:45 remaining in the second for a 5-2 lead.
The line of Bianchi, Shea and Dykun pulled the Spartans closer once again when Bianchi recorded his hat trick with 1:30 to go in the second to cut the deficit to two.
Unfortunately for Amity, the Spartans never scored again.
“It is a concern,” Lindgren said. “We have to get more offense from other than that line. It is something we are working on.”
Biddeford (3-0-1) put the game away in the third period, scoring three times on the power-play in 2:41.
Nadeau set up Taylor Reaullard with 6:26 remaining before Nadeau scored 1:26 later for a 7-3 lead. Callahan rounded out the scoring with 2:45 to go in the game with assists going to Ballaire and Fleurent.
Fields finished the game with 16 saves.
The Spartans concluded their trip up north with another tough test against an undefeated Greely team.
Battling back from a two-goal deficit with a pair of goals in the final 8:30 of the third period, Amity fell in overtime when Ted Harg scored with 2:57 remaining in a 3-2 loss.
“I was pleased with the effort,” Lindgren said. “We struggled in the first period. We have struggled at times to get out of the gate. I thought the kids showed a lot of character after an embarrassing loss. I believed we were going to capture the game. It was a great comeback.”
Trailing 2-0 in the third period, Amity (2-3) cut the deficit in half when Dykun beat Greely goaltender Matt Labbe with 8:30 remaining. Dykun’s unassisted goal put Amity within striking distance.
The Spartans grabbed the equalizer with 1:55 remaining when Bianchi scored off an assist from Eric Carrano. The goal was Bianchi’s fourth of the trip.
“The kids fought hard,” Lindgren said. “They played better. The kids stepped up. I thought we had tremendous momentum going into overtime.
“We outplayed them. We had a lot of chances. Their goalie (Labbe) played like Ken Dryden. He made some phenomenal saves.”
After a scoreless first period, Greely (6-0) took a 1-0 lead in the second when Kenny Richards beat Mansfield 4:06 in. Richards’ goal held up until the third when John Downey scored 2:44 in for a 2-0 Greely lead.
Amity put 40 shots on Labbe, who came away with 38 saves. Mansfield made 27 saves.