HALLOWELL — It wasn’t blind luck that sent Cody Ivey in alone for a go-ahead third period goal for the Waterville/Winslow boys hockey co-op.

Ivey’s breakaway goal came just six seconds after Sam Lloyd evened the score, lifting the Kennebec RiverHawks to a come-from-behind 4-2 win over Gardiner in a Class B crossover game Saturday night at Camden National Bank Ice Vault. The junior Ivey scored twice while on the man-advantage in the final period, and senior goalie Ben Grenier recovered from a shaky start to make 19 saves as the RiverHawks improved 9-2-0 with their sixth win in their last seven outings.

“That’s huge for us,” Ivey said of the win. “I thought we came out a little flat. We hadn’t played a game in a week and a half. But it doesn’t matter now.”

Gardiner (7-6-0) led 2-0 just 2:48 after the opening puck drop thanks to goals from Cam Rizzo and Logan Manter only 88 seconds apart. It was part of a first period in which the Tigers played at a quicker pace — and with much more danger — than the visitors, and they rightly skated into the first intermission with the two-goal lead intact.

Tiger goalie Quinn Veregge made 18 of his 37 saves in the second period, including stopping six shots on a Kennebec power play midway through the stanza. As the shots, and the Grade-A scoring chances, for the RiverHawks began to pile up without any of them finding the back of the net, it appeared a frustrating night was taking shape.

“We weren’t hungry enough in the first period,” Grenier said. “I was giving up too many rebounds. They were surrounding the front of the net, putting them in and we weren’t clearing them out.”

But John Evans whipped a shot from the right point through traffic at the 11:42 mark to finally solve Veregge and put Kennebec on the board. More importantly, it gave the RiverHawks belief that more was coming their way.

“The big thing for us was just to get that first one,” Kennebec coach Jon Hart said. “(Veregge) did a great job, but I still felt good after the second period. A big part it was getting that first goal from John, especially coming from a guy who doesn’t score a lot. That’s a senior leader.”

At the other end, Grenier found his game and made a beautiful post-to-post stop when Rizzo fed Tanner Hebert at the right post trying to put the Tigers back on top by a pair of goals with 10 seconds left until the second intermission.

“Part of being a goalie is that you have to have short-term memory,” Grenier said. “Whether it’s a nice save or a goal against, you’ve got to get back up like nothing happened. Get right back to it and make the next save.”

“That save kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit,” said Gardiner coach Tyler Wing, who was missing key players to both injury and illness, including captain Cam Bourassa.

In the third, a crucial boarding penalty to Gardiner’s Jake Weston handed Kennebec a five-minute major. The resulting power play produced both the tying and game-winning goals for the RiverHawks.

Lloyd, camped at the top of the crease, tapped home Hunter Brown’s feed out of the left corner to tie the score at 2-2 with his first career goal.

That set the stage for Ivey, who watched Tibbetts take the ensuing face-off at center ice and spring him for the go-ahead goal on a partial breakaway.

“We actually practice that in practice every day,” Ivey said. “We let them win the face-off, I fly through the zone, try to get a breakaway, and hopefully I score.”

“The penalties are getting to us,” Wing said. “We’ve strengthened our penalty kill, but at the same time we don’t have enough players to run it. We get caught dead in our zone, and on a five-minute (major), you’re there way longer than you need to be.”

Gardiner pulled Veregge in favor of an extra attacker with a minute to play in regulation, trying to nullify a RiverHawk power play. It worked, briefly, before Ivey scored into an empty net with 37.5 seconds to play to put the game away.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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