GORHAM – The 1-8 Westbrook Blue Blazes hosted the 8-2 Bonny Eagle Scots at the USM Ice Arena Monday afternoon. On paper, the game should perhaps have been an easy victory by a large margin for Bonny Eagle; they beat Westbrook earlier in the seasons by a score of 12-2, after all.

But Westbrook hasn’t forgotten that lashing, nor have they given up practicing, and while Bonny Eagle maintained a lead throughout Monday’s rematch, it was never a lead they could afford to coast on. Indeed, in the third period, Westbrook looked like they might find an offensive groove when they scored two quick goals. Bonny Eagle managed to hold off the Blazes’ charge, however, and at the final buzzer, took the victory, 6-3.

“That’s a much-improved team,” Scots head coach Mark Whitman said of the Blue Blazes after the game. “Never disrespect an opponent. That’s what I try to get through to [my team], but it feels like that’s what they did [in the third period.]”

The first seven minutes were a stalemate, neither team scoring. Midway through the period, however, Bonny Eagle put two on the board, rapid-fire. Junior Josh Bagley scored one, assisted by sophomore Kyle Whitman, and 26 seconds later, senior Travis Rogers scored the other, on an assist by junior Cam Brown. The remainder of the period was much like the beginning, neither team managing to put the puck past the other team’s goaltender. At the end of one, Bonny Eagle was up 2-0, having fired off 17 shots to Westbrook’s seven.

Westbrook opened the second period with time in the box, with junior Kaleb Kent logging two minutes for boarding. His team successfully killed the penalty, but as it turned out, the Scots didn’t need a man advantage to put points on the board. Six-and-a-half minutes in, junior Chet Komulainen tallied Bonny Eagle’s third goal, assisted by freshman Tommy Komulainen. Just over a minute later, Rogers and senior Connor Shields combined to feed Bagley the puck, and Bagley drove it home for the Scots’ fourth goal. A mere 20 seconds after that, Rogers and Bagley reversed roles, though the result was the same, and Bonny Eagle pushed further ahead, 5-0.

The Blue Blazes incurred a major penalty plus game misconduct for high-sticking with 4:32 left in the second. The play left Bonny Eagle sophomore Justin Miles injured on the ice, though he sat up, drank from a water bottle, and left the rink under his own steam shortly thereafter. He’d also earned two minutes, for roughing, which Thomas Komulainen served, and which the Scots’ successfully killed. Whitman, however, got called for interference on a check, which put the teams back at four-on-four. Westbrook senior Jacob Webster capitalized on the situation, slipping a wraparound goal past Bonny Eagle sophomore goalie Matt Bridges. The second period ended with the Scots up, 5-1.

In the third, Westbrook freshman Jacob Coro hooked early to end up in the sin bin for two minutes. Not long after he emerged, however, the Blue Blazes, sparked, flashed, and looked like they might catch fire.

At 4:23 in, freshman Kyle Paul fed the puck to junior Shawn McKeough, who shoved it past Bridges to inch Westbrook closer to their opponents. Half a minute later, Webster and Blazes’ senior Chris Celeste combined to give Westbrook another goal, making the score 5-3. Bonny Eagle called timeout.

After the game, Whitman said he told his team during that timeout, “‘At this point in time, they’re a better team than we are.’

“For that stretch of time,” he added, “we just weren’t playing the best that we could.”

Westbrook assistant coach Steve Sands expressed admiration for his boys’ teamwork in piecing together something of a rally.

“That was a big turnaround for us … to see them all work together and put a couple points on the board, that helped us out.”

Westbrook couldn’t coax the rally into a full-blown comeback, though, and five minutes later, Bonny Eagle’s Bagley got his hat trick to finish off the scoring.

“We left too many odd-man rushes – a 3-on-0, and we don’t even get a shot, with the top line? That’s unacceptable,” Whitman said. “A win’s a win … but we’ve been a little bit more successful than this against [Westbrook] in the past.”

Despite some misgivings about his squad’s overall third-period performance, Whitman had high praise for some of his players.

“My sophomore goaltender [Matt Bridges] … that’s his first high school start. We left him out to dry, and he got some good saves,” Whitman said. “The Komulainen brothers – Tommy, No. 14, he doesn’t get much playing time, but we had a player go down and he stepped right in and didn’t miss a beat. Nice pass to his brother to put it in the net.”

Sands was optimistic about the rest of Westbrook’s season, even though the team has struggled so far. He said the team had improved a great deal.

“If we come out and play three strong periods of hockey every game, I think we can get more wins.”

Bonny Eagle improves to 9-2 on the season. They travel to Windham next, facing the 2-9 Eagles on Saturday, Feb. 2. Westbrook falls to 1-9. They were set to host 4-8 Mt. Ararat on Wednesday, after the American Journal’s deadline.

Westbrook’s Chris Celeste closes in on Bonny Eagle’s Josh Bagley. Staff photos by Adam Birt
Westbrook’s Noah Oliver and Shawn McKeough wall off their goal against Bonny Eagle attackers.
Bonny Eagle junior Josh Bagley surges toward Westbrook goaltender Ricky Henward.
Bonny Eagle junior Chet Komulainen winds up a wrister after escaping a Westbrook check.
Blue Blazes’ defenseman Greg Buotte and Scots’ forward Cam Brown grapple for control of the puck.
Westbrook senior Chris Celeste steers the puck away from his goalie’s crease.
Bonny Eagle junior Cam Brown and Westbrook senior Brett Goodnow race for the puck.
Bonny Eagle captain Connor Shields cuts through the corner on offense.
Bonny Eagle assistant captain Travis Rogers rips a shot towards Westbrook goalie.
Bonny Eagle’s Josh Doustou and Westbrook’s John Tibbetts scramble through the corner after the puck.
Bonny Eagle’s Cam Brown shunts the puck toward a teammate while ducking away from Westbrook’s Kyle Paul.

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