Hurricanes win rivalry game over Wasps to reach boys hockey semifinal

Hartford’s Lochlan Park (11) reacts after scoring a goal during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game against Woodstock at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Hartford won, 5-0. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford’s Lochlan Park (11) reacts after scoring a goal during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game against Woodstock at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Hartford won, 5-0. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Woodstock head coach Jon Chamberlin reacts with frustration to decisions made by a referee during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game against Hartford at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock head coach Jon Chamberlin reacts with frustration to decisions made by a referee during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game against Hartford at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Hartford’s Lochlan Park (11) and Woodstock’s Ray Petrone (24) collide into the wall during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford’s Lochlan Park (11) and Woodstock’s Ray Petrone (24) collide into the wall during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Woodstock’s Kyle Costales (5) drives toward the goal while defended by Hartford’s Logan Caffrey (14) and Tighe Hrabchak (17) during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Woodstock’s Kyle Costales (5) drives toward the goal while defended by Hartford’s Logan Caffrey (14) and Tighe Hrabchak (17) during a VPA D-II boys hockey quarterfinal game at Wendell A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-29-2024 1:49 PM

Modified: 02-29-2024 2:21 PM


WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — There was hacking and whacking Wednesday night when the Hartford High and Woodstock boys hockey teams clashed in a Vermont Division II playoff quarterfinal.

The neighboring rivals chirped at each other. They collided in hits clean and penalized and renewed rivalries dating to their youth-league days. Third-seeded Hartford won, 5-0, with the sixth-seeded Wasps committing five of the game’s eight fouls, including its first three.

“Their game plan was obviously to be incredibly physical,” said Hartford coach Todd Bebeau. “The officials let them get away with a lot of things that were questionable, but they played within what was given to them.”

Defenseman Lochlan Park had two goals and two assists and wing Nate Clark scored twice. Rearguard Matt Hayes had two assists. Goaltender Nunu Mayer made 15 saves, two of them outstanding and in the late going to preserve the whitewash.

“We’ve asked a 14-year old freshmen in his first varsity season to start almost every game,” Bebeau said of Mayer. “There have been peaks and valleys, but the last two days in practice, a switch was thrown and he was locked in. He looked confident all night and he really wanted to get that shutout.”

Park opened the scoring, wheeling around a defender in the left circle to fire past goaltender Dominic Palazzo and into the net’s far, upper corner. The strike came on the first shot of the game and after just 1 minute, 47 seconds.

“Lochlan Park was by far the best player on the ice tonight,” Bebeau said. “He’s such a smooth skater and a smart kid. You can tell he realizes his time in high school hockey is running short and he’s going to make the most of it.”

Woodstock (8-10-3) then committed three consecutive penalties and Hartford doubled its lead after the visitors’ third trip to the sin bin. Park fired from the left point and Clark, parked atop the crease, redirected the puck home.

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The Hurricanes (11-7-3) pushed its lead to 3-0 a minute before intermission, Ezra Mock blasting a shot over Palazzo’s glove and under the crossbar from the right circle. Hayes took a retaliatory cross-checking penalty three seconds before the second intermission and the public-address blared the 1974 Carl Douglas song “Kung Fu Fighting”.

Another Park slap shot found the twine 12 seconds into the third period and Clark sprinted to catch Woodstock’s Kyle Costales from behind with 1:39 remaining in the game and Palazzo pulled for an extra skater.

Clark dove past Costales, poking the puck ahead and into the unguarded cage. The pair crashed into the end boards and got up yapping, resulting in group hostilities and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Clark “taunted the guy but if you’d heard what the kid said to him, I’d have taunted him as well,” Bebeau said. “Listen, we took a lot of heavy, late, high hits and there comes a point where you’re going to push back.”

Woodstock coach Jon Chamberlain did not respond to a request seeking comment on the game.

The Hurricanes now push on to Saturday’s semifinals and to face second-seeded Lyndon (16-2-3), which plays in Fenton Chester Arena, a creaky bandbox sure to be packed with unfriendly patrons. Hartford has proven it can skate or scrap as a game requires, but will likely have to dig deep to return to the division title game for the second time in three seasons.

“This was not a flashy hockey game,” Bebeau said. “It was grind it out, absorb hits and score dirty goals. We can play an up-tempo game with finesse and speed but tonight wasn’t about that. It was warm and the ice was soft, so we kept our game simple.”

Notes: Fenton Chester Arena is named for a Lyndon businessman instrumental in getting the facility built in 1979. Two years ago, $30,000 was raised by roughly 140 donors and another $25,000 approved by the town select board to keep the building operational. Plumbing, electrical and lighting issues were addressed and a new furnace acquired… Hurricanes reserve goaltender Frankie Cushing said he’s recovering well from hip surgery but will have to endure surgery on the opposite hip later this year… Former Hartford standout Connor Tierney is listed as a freshman on the Bentley (Mass.) University men’s lacrosse roster, which includes an astounding 68 players. Tierney was not among the 26 Falcons who played in an opening loss on Feb. 23. Bentley is ranked tenth in NCAA Division III after reaching the national tournament last spring.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.