HALLOWELL — Even though it continues to be its own worst enemy at times this season, the Gardiner hockey team found a way to pull out a victory Saturday night.

The Tigers scored three times in the first five minutes of the third period, including a pair of shorthanded goals, to escape Camden National Bank Ice Vault with a 3-0 win over Brewer in a Class B crossover meeting. Tiger senior goaltender Michael Poirier made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season.

“It felt good,” Poirier said. “Last year this game went to overtime, and I’m glad we could win it in regulation this time. But we’re taking a lot of really dumb penalties and we need to fix that.”

The Tigers (7-3-0) certainly needed their All-State goalie in this one. Gardiner, besieged by penalties all season long, accounted for 42 minutes in penalties against the Witches — including two major penalties and a pair of game misconducts.

Gardiner head coach Sam Moore has preached the need for his team to be more disciplined all year, but it was still a problem on Saturday. The saving grace for the Tigers was their ability to break open a 0-0 game with Ryan Kelley’s goal just 1:23 into the final period and then follow that up with shorthanded goals from Joe Clark and Tanner Hebert just 65 seconds apart that made it 3-0.

Brewer (7-5-1) called timeout to try and catch its collective breath, but it could not recover from the early third-period barrage.

“To come out and stick one in on that first shift of the third period was really huge,” Moore said. “I like my penalty kill to be aggressive and shoot for goals. (Shorthanded goals) are huge. It really takes the air out of the other team.”

Clark’s goal was the product of a bad turnover from Brewer deep in its own zone on the breakout. Clark picked up an errant pass and stuffed his own rebound home.

“That was big. We needed momentum,” said the sophomore Clark, who had a goal and an assist and leads Gardiner with 19 points this season. “They hit a lot and played the body. But you’ve always got to keep going. It was a big win for us.”

The second period only set the stage for the wild finish, as both teams had chances to break the game open in the frame but were frustrated to leave the ice scoreless through 30 minutes of play.

The best opportunity for Brewer came in the form of a five-minute major penalty to Gardiner’s Alic Shorey, whistled off early in the period for a hit from behind at his own blue line. Shorey earned the major penalty, plus a game misconduct, but Tiger senior netminder Michael Poirier turned in his best work of the night. The Witches produced 15 shots in the period, half of them with the prolonged man advantage.

Poirier stopped them all to give Gardiner life.

“I’m just trying to keep the puck in my eyesight and get my defense to move people out of the way, ” Poirier said.

Gardiner had three power plays of its own in the period, two of them abbreviated, but was similarly unable to crack through Brewer’s own senior goalie, Konlon Kilroy. Ryan Kelley and Joe Clark combined to break into the Witches zone with speed with under three minutes left, and Clark’s slick pass through traffic found Tristan Hebert camped at the far post with a wide open net in front of him.

Kilroy slid all the way across to make the save of the night.

The middle period was played in stark contrast to the first, in which the two teams were scoreless through a brisk, albeit tight-checking, opening 15 minutes. Gardiner enjoyed a pair of power plays in the stanza, but Kilroy made a couple of key stops — including one on at the back post on defenseman Matt Poirier — to keep the Tigers off the board.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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