Wahconah ice hockey downs Drury in front of big home crowd for season opener

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PITTSFIELD — He wasn't the only Wahconah hockey player smiling, but defenseman Owen Kroboth's grin was more than obvious.

After all, when you score your first home high school goal, that's reason enough to smile.

"It's nice to finally play in front of all my friends and in my city," said Kroboth, who goes to Pittsfield after spending his first hockey season at Pope Francis.

Kroboth's second-period goal broke a scoreless tie, and Mike Cullett's goal in the second stanza proved to be the game-winning score as Wahconah knocked off Drury 4-1, before a standing-room only crowd at the Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires.

Cullett had his name all over the scoresheet for Wahconah. He assisted on Kroboth's goal, and then got assists on third-period tallies by Ryan LaPierre and Ernie Lampron.

Wahconah goalie Jake Risley had nine saves, losing his shutout on a goal by Cam Abel in the final four minutes of the game.

"It means a lot. It's a great first start and that's honestly what I think we needed," Cullett said. "This team, we can do it. Tonight we proved we can go out there and do something this year."

Opening night games are often bar setters, to see just how far a team will need to go in order to accomplish its goals. In defeat, Drury coach Derek Durocher said there is much to work on, but much to be happy with.

"I thought we did a lot of things hockey-wise well today, especially early on," he said. "We struggled with composure at times. Credit to Wahconah. They did a lot of things good in all three zones of the rink. They did more things better than us, and the result showed that."

The first period saw Wahconah out-shoot Drury 9-5, but the game was scoreless after 15 minutes. Drury goalie Nate Haley held Wahconah off the scoreboard. Most notably, he made a dandy save on a shot from right out in front by Mason Alfonso.

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Three minutes into the second period, Wahconah struck. Kroboth took a pass from Cullett, skated through open ice and went five-hole on Haley for the goal.

"The defenseman was screening Nate. I just saw an opening, shot it, and it went five-hole," said Kroboth. "I see open ice and I take it."

That goal enabled the Warriors to breathe a little bit.

"It helped a lot," Wahconah coach Matt Risley said. "Going out after the first period tied 0-0, they were starting to feel it and starting to get anxious. I had to calm them down. Relax, play your game and we'll be fine."

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Wahconah did not get back on the board until the 8:34 mark of the second. It wasn't a power-play goal, but Cullett scored shortly after the penalty clock struck 0:00.

"Clean it up," said Cullett, when asked what they talked about in the room between periods. "We were kind of playing a little selfish, but we had to come together as a team and really believe together, clean up everything and play a better game."

Wahconah's goalie, meanwhile, did not face a lot of shots. He did, however, come up with a huge stop in the third period. Chase Vanderwoude and Brian Czarnecki broke out on a two-on-one, and Risley came up with the save on Czarnecki.

"He absolutely kept us in it, until we found our legs beneath us and started playing together as a team," coach Risley said. "Then we started getting more pucks toward net, and good things happen."

Wahconah broke the game open with two goals in a 26-second span of the third period. Ryan LaPierre scored on a rebound at 9:32, after the puck hit the post. Mason Alfonso and Cullett got assists. Then off the next faceoff, Lampron made it 4-0.

Drury's Abel, who transferred to Mount Greylock this year, got behind the Wahconah defense, and put the puck behind Jake Risley. It was Drury's only goal.

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———

Drury     0     0     1     —     1

Wahconah     0     2     2     —     4

Second Period

W — Owen Kroboth (Mike Cullett), 3:49. W — Cullett (Ryan LaPierre), 8:34.

Third Period

W — LaPierre (Mason Alfonso, Cullett), 9:32. W — Ernie Lampron (Cullett, Mason Alfonso), 9:58. D — Cam Abel (Tyler Pettit), 10:54.

Saves — D: Nate Haley 27. W: Jake Risley 9).

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.

Wahconah     0     2     2     —     4

Second Period

W — Owen Kroboth (Mike Cullett), 3:49. W — Cullett (Ryan LaPierre), 8:34.

Third Period

W — LaPierre (Mason Alfonso, Cullett), 9:32. W — Ernie Lampron (Cullett, Mason Alfonso), 9:58. D — Cam Abel (Tyler Pettit), 10:54.

Saves — D: Nate Haley 27. W: Jake Risley 9).

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.

Second Period

W — Owen Kroboth (Mike Cullett), 3:49. W — Cullett (Ryan LaPierre), 8:34.

Third Period

W — LaPierre (Mason Alfonso, Cullett), 9:32. W — Ernie Lampron (Cullett, Mason Alfonso), 9:58. D — Cam Abel (Tyler Pettit), 10:54.

Saves — D: Nate Haley 27. W: Jake Risley 9).

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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