The Windham hockey team “travelled” to face off against then Bonny Eagle Scots and came away with a 3-3 tie. The Eagles, who also call USM home, staged a furious comeback over the last 20 minutes of the game to salvage the tie in a game that featured hard hitting, plenty of shots on goal, and a raucous crowd.
The game was a story told in three acts as the first period featured end to end action with both teams generating good scoring opportunities. The tone was set early on, as Zack Callahan delivered a clean hard check that would foreshadow the events to come. Windham goaltender Clayton Owens and Bonny Eagle backstop Matt Bridges both turned aside all the shots sent their way, keeping the game scoreless at the end on one period.
The second period began with both teams skating down a man and it was Bonny Eagle that was able to capitalize. Freshman Tanner McClure picked up a puck in the neutral zone, cut hard across the front of the net before sliding the puck past Owens for the 1-0 lead. The goal was followed shortly by a pair of penalties on Windham, as Josh Merrill and Tyler Johnson were sent to the box 40 seconds apart. Bonny Eagle seized on the opportunity scoring on both portions of the power play to push their lead to 3-0 eight minutes into the period.
Sensing that the game was getting away from his team, Windham coach Greg Leclair immediately called a time out and lit into his charges. “Frankly, I told them that they were giving the game away because they were not playing smart, disciplined hockey. The kids were not finishing plays, were not skating hard to the puck, and were taking foolish penalties,” said Leclair. Whatever the message, the Eagles responded with a goal two minutes later. With Bonny Eagle’s Nate Hagerman in the box for a cross checking penalty, Jack Gresh picked up the rebound of a Chris Lekousi shot from the point and deposited it into the net to cut the lead to 3-1. “It was a huge goal. And it wasn’t anything flashy. Jack was in the right spot to put it home,” added Eagle’s assistant Matt Curran. “Without that goal, I’m not sure we come back the way we did.”
The game, which was tilted in the Scots favor for much of second, swung back to the Eagles in the third. “I challenged the kids in the locker room to step it up, to prove to me that they are can play the kind of hockey that the coaches believe they are capable of,” said Leclair, adding “Our captain, Travis Grant had some choice words for his team after the coaches left the room. He told the kids, ‘we can skate hard now, or we can skate hard in the morning (at practice), which would you rather?’” Windham, heeding the words of both coaches and captain, responded immediately. Zack Callahan took a pass of the opening faceoff from Gresh, cut into the zone and beat Bridges to make it a one goal game. Windham kept up the pressure and as a result, forced Bonny Eagle to take penalties and ultimately a time-out of their own with 4:53 remaining in the game. “That time out worked in our favor a bit, we were able to diagram up a faceoff play, and it paid off,” noted Leclair. After a quick shot on goal, Windham got another crack at it, cashing in on the tying goal.
Callahan won the draw to Johnson who moved toward the middle of the ice and burned one off of the far post and into the net. The Eagles outshot the Scots 17-3 in the period.
The game moved to overtime. Scots captain Justin Miles was awarded a penalty shot late in the frame. He took the puck wide before lifting a wrist-shot that rattled off the glass behind the net. Moments later, Johnson collected a rebound and missed a gaping net at the other end for Windham.
Matt Bridges finished with 38 saves on 41 shots for Bonny Eagle (1-6-1) while Clayton Owens stopped 27 of 30 for Windham (2-4-1).