When the Brunswick hockey team took to the Hartong Rink ice to face off with power program Kent, the Bruins knew it would take everything they had to skate off with a win.
For two periods the Bruins showed that they could not only hang with the Lions, they were the better team, taking a two-goal lead into the final 16 minutes. Unfortunately for the home team that is when the tide suddenly turned. Kent scored four unanswered goals while holding Brunswick scoreless down the stretch to take a 4-2 win.
"It's always tough to lose a game like this especially when you have the lead late but you have to give credit to your opponent and Kent is a great team," Brunswick coach Ron VanBelle said. "Once they got that first goal in the third period you could feel the momentum swing in their favor. But I'm still very proud of my guys in terms of their overall effort and how they kept pushing until time ran out."
Early on, Brunswick (1-1) would dictated the pace, playing with great intensity on defense while peppering Kent goalie Stephen Morrissey (25 saves) with numerous shots. That persistence paid off when Morrissey misplayed a puck off the boards behind the net that found the waiting stick of Brunswick forward Nick Jermain, who wasted no time giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. A scoreless second ended with the Bruins on a power play. The man advantage carried over to the start of the third period when Travis Buck was in the right place at the right time. As the puck escaped from a scrum in front of the Kent net, the Brunswick senior promptly slapped a shot past Morrissey to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead with 16:35 to go.
"We got our first goal on a fortunate bounce and our second on a power play," VanBelle said. "But after that they were the recipients of the favorable bounces and sometimes that's just the way hockey is. They're a very deep team that never stops coming at you and they took full advantage of the opportunities they were presented with."
Less than 30 seconds after Buck's goal, Kent (3-0) cut the lead in half when Lewis Zerter-Gossage weaved through the Bruins defense and slipped a shot just under Brunswick goalie Gryphon Richardson. The Lions struck again just three minutes later when co-captain Mike Graham delivered a high-arching wrist shot from the left side that soared past Richardson's glove side into the far corner of the net to tie the game.
"We came out slowly to begin the game, but really picked it up as time went on," Buck said. "We proved we could play with one of the best teams out there, but then we had some flukey goals scored against us. In the end we let the game get away from us."
The decisive goal came off the stick of TJ Roche who was positioned just outside the crease and pounced on a rebound for a 3-2 Kent advantage. The Lions also received an empty net goal from Max Kaufman.
"At the end of the day the puck didn't bounce our way," Richardson said. "But I honestly feel we lost a game that we really shouldn't have. It's disappointing but moving forward this loss will only serve to fuel our fire."
A sentiment shared by the rest of the Bruins.
"We have to remember what this feels like right now and use it as motivation," Buck said. "We can't wait to get back on the ice and bring the intensity we know we're capable of."
The Bruins won't have to wait long, hosting Hotchkiss 6 p.m. on Saturday
Kent 4, Brunswick 2
KENT 0 0 4--4
BRUNSWICK 1 0 1--2
Scoring: First Period: B Nick Jermain 1:26 Second Period: No Score. Third Period: B Travis Buck 16:35 (PP); K Lewis Zerter-Gossage 16:07; K Mike Graham 13:48; K TJ Roche 11:45; K Max Kaufman 1:00.
Shots: B 27; K 35. Goalies: B Gryphon Richardson (31 saves); K Stephen Morrissey (25 saves)
Records: B 1-1; K 3-0