BBA ties first place U-32

MANCHESTER - In a matchup of two top-flight teams, the battle that ensued on the ice at Riley Rink on Wednesday carried with it a playoff like atmosphere.

Burr and Burton Academy (11-3-1) had the 2-1 lead for much of the game, but with 1:22 left to play in the third period U-32 senior forward Forrest Smith slipped one past BBA goalie Zach Stewart low on the glove side to knot the game at two apiece. Stewart, his head lowered, pushed the puck out of the goal before rising for the remainder of regulation. It was one of the rare mistakes the senior made on the night in an exceptional performance that saw him tally 50 saves at game's end.

"Zach is the reason we're sitting here with a 2-2 tie," said BBA coach Cory Herrington. "He just had an unbelieveable performance tonight and I can't just give him enough credit for his effort. And I also got to point out Bennett Timmerman on defense. He was getting in passing lanes. He was getting in shooting lanes and those two guys really stepped up for us tonight and were the heart and soul of that team."

The tie snapped a 10-game winning streak for Burr and Burton and a 13-game winning streak for U-32 (13-1-1) who lost to BBA 6-4 in the beginning of the season.

BBA got on the board just over two-minutes into the game when senior forward Sean Paradis scored off an assist from forward Andrew Filippi.

"I saw an opportunity. I got some space [and] I got a breakaway," said Paradis after the game. "I knew this was going to be a tough game so I wanted to put us up on the board and I just put it in, luckily. It got us going early, but it wasn't enough at the end."

Twenty seconds later Burr and Burton struck again when senior forward Brock Pollard beat his defender glove side to give the Bulldogs the 2-0 advantage.

BBA held U-32 scoreless for much of the first period until junior forward Tyler Elliot connected off a one-timer just inside the blue line with 1:35 remaining in the first period.

U-32 dominated play throughout the second period, taking shot after shot while BBA struggled to get out of the neutral zone. But Stewart was perfect in net, stopping everything that came his way and tallying 14 saves in the period.

The Raiders had chances throughout the game, but were unable to pull ahead of BBA.

"We got fifty shots on goal. We got the opportunities, but when you face a quality goaltender like Stewart you've got to keep your shots low and hope for rebounds, crash the net and punch them home and he gobbled up all the rebounds tonight," said U-32 coach Dave Pickel.

For his part, Stewart said it was difficult to contain the all-out assault by the Raiders.

"It was a constant attack," said Stewart. "They were constantly coming at us and I was trying to control my rebounds and not give them more opportunities and that's something that I've been working on a lot. But they're just a non-stop team. They're aggressive, they're well coached, very disciplined and it's tough."

U-32 senior defensemen Cooper Hatch and Shane O'Neill each had an assist on the night as did senior forward Jordan Jones. Senior goalie Jordan Blais had 18 saves for the Raiders.

BBA is scheduled to travel to Harwood on Saturday for a 6 p.m. game.

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