HALLOWELL — There are no playoffs this winter, but the Gardiner Tigers and Kennebec RiverHawks did their best to create a postseason feel Monday night.

Peter Sack scored a pair of first-half goals for Kennebec and the RiverHawks held off a late charge from the Tigers to squeak out a 3-2 win at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault. Goalie Adam Sirois made 16 saves as Kennebec improved to 5-2-0 this season. It was the second win this season for Kennebec over Gardiner, with the RiverHawks having come back from three goals down the first time the two teams met to win 6-4.

“These games are good for the team. They bring us closer together,” said Kennebec captain Nate Newgard. “We learned how to fight through penalties because we’re going to face adversity during the season.”

Gardiner (1-5-0) cut into a three-goal deficit with a pair of strikes inside the final 10 minutes of regulation, first from Darien Jamison with a two-man advantage at 13:22 and then just over three minutes later when Hunter Vasvary cleaned up a mess in front of Sirois to cut the Kennebec lead to 3-2.

The Tigers got a late power play with 26 seconds remaining and pulled the goalie out of the timeout, but the tying goal never came.

It was the third one-goal loss of the season for Gardiner.


Kennebec’s Justin Bolduc draws a penalty for tripping Gardiner’s Nate Luiz during a hockey game Monday in Hallowell. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“We came in the locker room between the first and second half and we kind of had a heart to heart,” said Gardiner coach Tyler Wing. “They all needed to pick it up and play with the tenacity that I know they can play with.

“We came out a little bit flat in the first couple of shifts of the second half … but I will say I’m proud of them for coming back and not giving up.”

It appeared as though it was going to be an easy night for the RiverHawks, who were on the front foot from puck drop. The visitors outshot the Tigers 18-7 in the first half, broke through on Dan Gurney’s goal at 8:43 and doubled the lead to 2-0 when Sack stuffed home a rebound during a five-minute power-play for Kennebec.

Sack netted a second with a nifty goal off a face-off he won to himself 38 seconds prior to the intermission, snapping his shot under the bar and past Gardiner goalie Max Dearborn, who finished with 33 saves on a busy night that came in waves.

Kennebec’s Sam Lloyd, left, hits Gardiner’s Garrett Doyle in the face during a game Monday in Hallowell. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Kennebec coach Jon Hart thought his team could have done more in the opening stanza.

“When you’re up 3-0 and you miss three open nets, it might not seem like a lot at the time, but that could be 6-0 and then it’s a different game,” Hart said. “My talk at halftime wasn’t a fun talk.


“The effort was there (late in the game). Since I’ve been here, if you look at the stat sheets we’ve outshot teams and out-chanced them in almost every game it seems, but the guys are kind of snakebit a little bit. It’s been that way for four years.”

Even without the luxury of insurance goals — including what would have been a hat trick for the sophomore Sack when he rang the crossbar from the top of the left circle at the 8-minute mark of the second half — Kennebec had done enough to keep Gardiner at bay.

“They come out hard and fast and you’re not ready for it, or you’re on your heels any bit, they take full advantage of it,” Wing said of Kennebec.

Newgard and the rest of the RiverHawks were pleased to get a win in a tight game which featured momentum swings in favor of both squads.

“We just had to start playing more defensively instead of trying to score goals on every shift,” Newgard said. “I wasn’t surprised they came back. The last time we played them we had to come back (from a 3-0 deficit) on them.”

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