Bucs fall to Chessie in final seconds
LAUREL — Tied 3-3 with less than a minute remaining in the hockey game between Chessie and Kent Island High last Monday evening, overtime appeared inevitable.
But Chessie’s Caden Cote saw an opportunity to score and took it. Racing with the puck down right wing, Cote sent a backhander that deflected off Buccaneers goalie Ben Jones and sailed into the net for the game-winner with just 29.7 seconds remaining.
Kent Island produced two scoring opportunities in the final seconds but couldn’t get the puck in the goal as Chessie earned a 4-3 victory at The Gardens Ice House in the opening round of the Maryland Student Hockey League Eastern Conference playoffs.
Cote, whose dad played for the Washington Capitals, scored the final three goals for Chessie, which erased a 3-1 deficit.
“Obviously, you don’t want to have a quick exit [from the playoffs],” Cote said. “I thought we showed resilience battling back. Nobody quit. Everybody kept their head up. We had a good attitude on the bench and a good atmosphere.”
With the win, sixth-seeded Chessie (a combined high-school team), which had lost to Kent Island 7-3 during the regular season, improved to 6-4 and advanced to the conference semifinals against top-seeded South River on Wednesday. Third-seeded Kent Island finished the season 9-3-1.
The Buccaneers dominated throughout the contest but, like the final seconds, struggled to get the puck past Chessie goalie Xander Sears.
Sears finished with 34 saves, while Jones recorded 11.
Chessie opened the scoring when Henry Pendleton sped down left wing and crossed in front of the crease before wristing a right-hander into the net with 8:35 left in the first period.
Kent Island countered two minutes later, when Brandon Galloway collected the puck around mid-ice, skated the up the left wing, and sent a righthander high to the left side of the goal for a 1-1 tie with 6:32 remaining in the first period. With 1:05 remaining, Cade Helfenbein put the Buccaneers up 2-1 at the end of the first period by poking the puck past Sears on a breakaway.
Kent Island’s Dorsey Schulz carried the puck end-to-end and sizzled a right-hander past Sears, high to the right side, to make it 3-1 with 11:24 left in the second period. But that ended the Bucs’ scoring. Shots caromed off the crossbar. Sears blocked, gloved, and swiped away shots. Loose pucks bounced or slid just out of the reach of open players as Kent Island’s offense stalled.
“We outshot them 37 to 15,” Bucs head coach Fred Christie said. “We had a deeper team. We just, the puck just didn’t bounce our way. We had so many opportunities in front of the net where we had a wide open net and the puck bounced over our stick, or we hit the crossbar two or three times, and that would have been the difference in the game.”
With 5:35 left in the second period, Cote sped up the left wing, deked a defender, and wristed a shot into the net to cut Kent Island’s lead to 3-2. With the Bucs two men down due to interference and tripping penalties, Cote sent a slap shot high into the net from directly out front with 1:17 left in the second period for a 3-3 tie, which remained until the game’s final minute.
“We were 9-3-1 this year. Last year we were about .500,” Christie. “This is the first time I think we’ve ever beat Easton, Saints Peter and Paul, and Queen Anne’s, so we were undefeated against the Eastern Shore teams, and we’ve never done that before.”
The Bucs will lose six seniors to graduation this spring, but should return enough talent to be considered a strong contender again next season.
Said Christie: “Our leading scorer is coming back, that’s Brandon, No. 3, and Allie’s [Allison Curry] only a sophomore, No. 6. She plays for the Washington Pride. She’s only 16 and she’s in a USA development hockey program. She’s the only AAA player on the team.”
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Kent Island’s Allison Curry controls the puck on offense during the first period last Monday evening against Chessie in the MSHL playoffs at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
Kent Island’s Brandon Gallaway prepares to take a shot as Chessie’s Logan Kendall defends during the first period last Monday evening in the MSHL playoffs at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel.