WATERVILLE — The final score notwithstanding, it was not the way the Kennebec RiverHawks wanted to open a promising season.

Junior forwards Zach Menoudarakos and Cody Ivey combined for three goals and four points in Kennebec’s season-opening 6-0 win over John Bapst at Alfond Rink on Wednesday afternoon, but neither was around for the final horn. Both were ejected as the RiverHawks (1-0-0) racked up 47 minutes in penalties in an ugly game that left Kennebec players apologizing to Crusaders in the handshake line at the end.

“It just can’t happen,” said RiverHawk senior Cooper Hart, who had a pair of assists. “You don’t have to go for the big, show-off hit. Play the body, sure, to get the puck. We want the puck, because we can use the puck to get goals on the board.”

Menoudarakos, who had two goals before he was given a major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind late in the second period, will not be eligible to play in Kennebec’s next game Saturday against Messalonskee. The same goes for Ivey, who was sent off for a major and a game disqualification on an open-ice elbow to the head of a Crusader player with 3:23 remaining in regulation.

Hart himself was given a major for boarding midway through the second period with the RiverHawks up 3-0, handing John Bapst (0-1-1) a chance to claw back into the game. Instead, Menoudarakos scored shorthanded and Ivey scored a 4-on-4 goal 2:01 apart to balloon the Kennebec lead to 5-0.

The good feelings were soon gone when the game turned uglier.

“This was different,” Kennebec coach Jon Hart said. “That’s not us. That’s not what we preach. I do understand some of these guys play a very aggressive style, and you’re going to have those penalties where your hands go up — but I don’t even teach that style anymore. It’s a different game now.

“I’m not pleased with that tonight at all. We’ll get better at that, because that’s not who we are.”

The penalties, and the severity of them, took the shine off what was otherwise a very good performance from the RiverHawks. Senior Tom Tibbetts had a goal and two assists, and sophomore Nate Newgard added a pair of goals.

Members of all three Kennebec lines cracked the scoresheet, taking pressure off Tibbetts and allowing him to look much more comfortable in the flow of the game without trying to force too many plays as a solo act.

“I believe we’re looking pretty good in the forward end,” said Tibbetts, whose breakaway goal opened the scoring in the first period. “I feel like I know where my linemates are on the ice, and I can find them and trust them to put the puck in the net.”

Senior goalie Ben Grenier, who did not play last season, returned to the crease and posted a 23-save shutout. He was at his best late in the second period during a barrage in which he stopped John Bapst’s Ben Spear, Connor Robbins and Cole Greeley in rapid-fire succession from point-blank range.

Grenier made up for some of the shortcomings on the Kennebec back end as the team found a few wrinkles in its season-opening effort.

“That’s huge for us,” Cooper Hart said. “We had mistakes here and there and had Ben to help us out. That’s a huge confidence boost.”

Crusader junior goalie Loukas Collatos made 25 saves in the losing effort.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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