Burr and Burton hangs on, beats Burlington in tourney opener

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MANCHESTER — Games like this are why you love playoff hockey.

Sixth-seeded Burr and Burton Academy led 11th-seeded Burlington 4-1 through two periods of their Division II boys' hockey playdown on Friday night, and had 1 minute and 2 seconds of power-play time to start the third period. They were thoroughly in control, and just one period stood between them and the quarterfinals.

Game over? More like Game On.

Burlington flipped the script in the third, and made the Bulldogs work and sweat every second of it, including a pair of 5-on-3 power plays, before BBA held on for a 5-3 win on Friday night at Riley Rink. Jacob Mulac had two power-play goals and an assist and Joey McCoy scored a pair of goals, including an empty-netter with 19 seconds left that finally settled matters.

BBA (11-10) will play the winner of today's playdown between No. 14 Northfield and No. 3 Colchester in the quarterfinals, at a time and location to be determined.

"This group of guys have played well on penalty kill all year,": BBA coach Mark Slade said. "It's unfortunate that we've had so much practice at it, but the boys banded together and made it happen."

Mulac's game-winner, his second power-play goal of the game, made it 4-1 with 1:19 left in the second. It followed a penalty kill in which the Bulldogs never managed to clear the zone, but got blocked shots from several players and solid saves from Ethan Simonds.

"[Mulac] is on the power play, he's on the penalty kill, he's a fast kid and he doesn't quit," Slade said of the sophomore.

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But the Seahorses (6-12-2) killed off the remaining power play to start the third, and then Elliot Maher put a shot past Simonds to make it 4-2 at 13:44. Three minutes later, BHS ran its power play offense to perfection, as Curtis Plante converted tic-tac-toe passing from Spencer Stilwell and Colton Poulin to make it a one-goal game. Plante had two of Burlington's three scores.

Slade took time out at 9:43 and reminded his players that they were still up a goal. But the Bulldogs kept finding their way to the penalty box, to the tune of four penalties in a five-minute span.

That's when Simonds (24 saves) and the BBA penalty kill stood tallest. Simonds stopped an Elliot Maher breakaway midway through the third, and BBA defenders blocked a number of shots to keep the Seahorses from netting the tying goal.

BHS pulled goalie Bradley Labombard (21 saves) with about a minute to go. But the Seahorses were not able to create a solid chance, and McCoy's empty-net attempt nearly the length of the ice before crossing the goal line and ending the comeback.

McCoy had a dominant first period. Just 29 seconds after Mulac opened the scoring, McCoy's shot from the left faceoff circle beat Labomboard cleanly. And late in the first, he delivered a clean open-ice check that drew a collective "whoa" from the crowd.

Mulac picked off where McCoy left off in the second, as his backhand shot beat Labombard on a power play to put BBA ahead 3-1.

Owen King added a pair of assists for the Bulldogs, and Slade appreciated his work on defense.

"Owen is our lone senior at this point. He's a leader. he has experience and he's playing so well for us," Slade said.


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