WATERVILLE — After losing for the first time in a month to begin the week, the Kennebec RiverHawks responded Saturday with one of their most complete efforts of the season.

Sophomore Nate Newgard had a hat trick and senior goalie Ben Grenier pitched his third shutout of the year as the RiverHawks rolled to a 5-0 win over Camden Hills in a Class B North matchup at Alfond Rink. It helped ease the sting of a loss to Presque Isle four days earlier — the RiverHawks’ first defeat on home ice this winter — as Kennebec (12-3-0) avenged a one-goal defeat at the hands of the Windjammers (8-7-0) on Feb. 5.

“This was huge,” said senior defenseman John Evans, who picked up two assists for the victors. “We knew the end of the season was going to be a grind, and we needed to finish it strong for a playoff push. This really was huge for us.”

After a scoreless first period, Kennebec erupted for four goals in the middle stanza. Cody Ivey and Brandon Mason each scored early to stake the home team out to a 2-0 lead before Newgard scored twice on the power play in the final 4:18 of the period.

Newgard’s first came off a drop pass just inside the offensive blue line from Tom Tibbetts at 10:42, and his second finished off a nice combination passing play between Tibbetts and Ivey at the left post at 14:09.

Kennebec may have only gone 2 for 9 with the man advantage in the matinee skate, but the momentum generated by the Windjammers’ parade to the penalty box proved crucial. The RiverHawks outshot Camden Hills by a 20-5 count in the period.

“That’s a big thing for us, is taking advantage of that,” said Kennebec coach Jon Hart, whose team has cemented itself as the No. 2 seed in the region. “We started to bury some of our opportunities. We just keep giving ourselves chances.”

Newgard, originally credited with a hat trick until scoring was changed on the RiverHawks’ first goal prior to the start of the third period, netted his third goal with 1:55 remaining in regulation. He pounced on the rebound of a Cooper Hart shot and swatted it past Camden Hills netminder Jackson Bernier (42 saves).

The winger never missed a beat, whether he was playing alongside Ivey and Tom Tibbetts on the power play or with regular linemates Mason and Brock Jolicoeur at even strength.

“We moved the puck well on the power play and got shots to the net, and it worked out,” Newgard said. “It doesn’t really matter who we play with. We all work well with everyone.”

Grenier made 20 saves for the shutout, his first since the second game of the season.

The netminder was also instrumental in other phases of the game, notably playing the puck out of his own crease to begin the RiverHawk transition game.

“Ben played really well, even though he didn’t have a ton of shots,” Hart said. “He plays the puck and does a lot of things for us. … We did a good job of clearing out rebounds.”

Tibbetts finished with two assists, while Ivey had a goal and an assist.

The full 45-minute effort, which included a dominant third period and good shifts from the team’s third line of Chris Williams, Jay Brock and Owen Evans was the perfect antidote to the loss to Presque Isle.

“We got outplayed, out-skated, out-everything by Presque Isle,” Hart said. “A lot of doubters start creeping in. A lot of opeople start wondering if we’re the real deal or if we’re posers, and that’s something that motivates us. Yeah, we lost a game. That might be the biggest loss of the year for us in terms of motivation.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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