WATERVILLE — The season is not lost for the Gardiner boys hockey team, at least not yet.

Sophomore forward Jake Weston scored his second goal of the game deep into overtime, lifting the Tigers to a 6-5 win over Kennebec in a Class B crossover game Monday night at Colby College’s Alfond Rink. In a game featuring more twists and turns than the Wizard of Oz’s Yellow Brick Road, the Tigers rallied after twice losing two-goal leads for a victory that kept their playoff hopes alive.

The win was just the second of the season for a Gardiner team (2-12-0) sitting two spots out of the final Class B South playoff spot, but it came against a Heal point-rich opponent in the Riverhawks (9-7-0). Kennebec entered the night occupying the No. 3 spot in Class B North.

Weston finished the night with two goals, while senior Cam Bigelow had a goal and an assist as one of five different Tigers to register goals. Sophomore Quinn Veregge made 26 saves to earn his first win since Gardiner beat Maranacook/Winthrop/Madison on Jan. 8.

Tom Tibbetts and Cooper Hart each had two goals for Kennebec.

TURNING POINTS: Despite losing 12 of their first 13 games this season, the Tigers never gave in to adversity against the RiverHawks.


A 4-2 lead after two periods evaporated when both Tibbetts and Hart scored in the first 2:18 of the third to knot the contest, but Bigelow answered only 31 seconds after Hart tied the game.

“We knew we could beat them. We had to keep skating,” Bigelow said. “When the going gets tough, you’ve just got to put your nose down and work harder. That’s what we were going for — working harder and putting the puck deep a little bit more. I think it paid off, actually.”

Then, after seeing Hart tip home Chase Wheeler’s drive from the left point with less than 16 seconds to play in regulation to send the game to overtime, Gardiner refused to yield.

In overtime, Weston was left alone in the slot to accept Kimball’s feed and pick his corner and snap Gardiner’s eight-game losing streak.

“It felt awesome,” said Weston, who had never had a two-goal game in his career prior to Monday. “That (tying goal) really crushed us for a little while, but we kept our heads high. We knew we had to give it everything we had.”

“They’ve been working hard,” Gardiner coach Sam Moore said. “They’ve lost a lot of close games, but they could taste this one. They didn’t want to be denied.”


PLAYER OF THE GAME: As far as both sides were concerned, the Gardiner netminder Veregge was the difference on Monday night.

“He really saved them,” Kennebec coach Jon Hart said. “He kept them in the game.”

The only shot to beat Veregge over the final 11 minutes of regulation was Hart’s redirection from the high slot area. The goalie made back-to-back stops from tight range on both Tibbetts and Hart midway through the third with the Tigers nursing a one-goal lead, and earlier in the period he’d stonewalled Tibbetts on a breakaway chance.

“He didn’t give up a bad goal,” Moore said. “He played like he has been — solid.”

ADVERSITY: Kennebec dressed only 15 players for the game, the result of team-wide suspensions and injuries, according to Jon Hart.

The most noticeable absentee for the RiverHawks was sophomore goalie Bryce Gunzinger, who was serving a suspension for a violation of team rules. Junior John Evans, a second-line winger, donned the netminder’s pads and made 22 saves.


“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys to be resilient,” Jon Hart said. “We had some adversity going on, but I couldn’t be more proud of how they battled.”

TURNOVERS: The teams exchanged three goals in the first half of the second period, all of them the result of costly turnovers deep in the defensive zone.

Pellerin tied the game at 1-1 just over a minute and a half into the period, while Manter and Bourassa scored just 1:13 apart to build Gardiner a 3-1 lead at 6:45.

“We made some simple mistakes,” Jon Hart said.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Gardiner’s outside shot at qualifying in Class B South got a boost with the win.

“There’s no question in my mind that these guys are good enough,” Moore said of his Tigers’ ability to make the playoffs. “Once you learn how to win a couple of these close games, the world is yours.”


The Tigers have home games left against Brunswick and Kennebunk/Wells, the two teams directly in front of them in the Heal point standings, before finishing with Yarmouth and York — the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the region currently.

“It’s been a tough year,” Bigelow said. “But these last four games, we really want to dig deep and show people that we can play with these guys.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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