The Vermont Lumberjacks Elite team came into the weekend with a chip on their shoulder against a New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs team that had done nothing but defeat them during the 2015 – 2016 season. They were determined to come up big, they were determined to win. The puck dropped promptly at 7pm, and the energy inside Leddy Park Arena was different than if this was any other game. There was a sense of excitement, of anticipation. No one knew what was about to happen as the first period continued to look more and more like a Premier level game and then, after five minutes of play, the Lumberjacks broke free with a goal by newcomer Alex Gowan.
The pace of the game quickened, and the Monarchs answered with a quick goal not long after, but the moment that struck belief into the hearts of the Lumberjacks bench was when Ontario native, Mason Emoff, was hauled down on a break away with two minutes to go in the first that would give him a chance on the penalty shot. When the ref blew his whistle, Emoff confidently skated toward goaltender Zach Kott, and without missing a beat danced around him with a beautiful deke to score.
Luckily for the Lumberjacks, Emoff wasn’t finished, not by a longshot. The second period had the Monarchs scoring two goals to climb atop the jacks 2-3 after being down after the first period. In the third, the Monarchs’ one gold lead looked thinner and thinner as the Jacks did all the little things right, not to mention getting excellent and timely saves from rookie goaltender Eric Roy. The Lumberjacks had started to truly out battle, out hit, out chance, and out play their foe.
Finally, with time ticking away, it was Mason Emoff scoring another big time goal off of the stick of his line mate, and second year Lumberjack, Andrew Bechard to tie it at three sending the Lumberjacks to overtime.
In overtime, the Monarchs were all of a sudden no match for the Lumberjacks, who looked better, bigger, and were right away faster. Newcomer defenseman, Corey Doney, galloped his way into the offensive zone right after the first faceoff, cranked a good shot on goal but was stopped by Kott. The puck trickled to the end wall and was recovered by none other than Mason Emoff, who grabbed the puck for a quick pass to Doney on the right side, a shot, the rebound, Mason Emoff with a hat trick overtime winner, 4-3, for the Vermont Lumberjacks.
Eric Roy would get the start again in game two, and that decision made a difference, as Roy stopped all of the pucks in period one. As period two began, penalties became more of a factor on both sides of the ice. The second period was riddled with trips to the box as well as scoring plays. The Lumberjacks received contributions from Australia native and second year Lumberjack Kieren Webster, Andrew Bechard, Cory Doney and newcomer defenseman, Zach Watkins. Finally, in the third period, the Lumberjacks lowered the boom on their border rivals with goals from the sticks of Bechard, and newcomer Dillon Mensing, scoring an empty netter. The Lumberjacks would win 6-3.
Mason Emoff, while staying off of the goals column in game two, assisted on, not one, not two, but five of the six goal scored, finishing the weekend with eight points.
“I think as a team we were to show them what we were capable of,” Emoff said. “Coach Mosso was explaining the history between our two teams based on last year, he definitely built up some hype and got the guys excited. We were nervous a bit, we didn’t know what to expect, but we were able to all contribute and work together and that showed on the ice.”
Coach Mosso may have been just as excited as the boys were to defeat a team that had plagued him all last season.
“I was very proud of the boys this weekend,” Mosso said. “The Lumberjacks and Monarchs have quite a history of having emotional battles and this series was no different. We left it all on the table as a unit and were rewarded with a deserved four points on the weekend.”