Kimball Union, the top ranked team in prep hockey, came to North Andover, MA to play a gritty unranked Proctor team for a Lakes Region matchup. The Proctor Hornets were not afraid and took the play right to the Wildcats from the drop of the puck. It was a high paced, back and forth, open ice game where despite the 6-3 score the shots were even at 48 a piece and there was plenty of action at both ends.
KUA stuck to the game plan of throw pucks on net and good things will happen as they took a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game off a pair of lucky bounce goals. The first came from Teddy Griffin who lobbed a wrister from the point that got re-directed at the last instant for the go ahead goal and the second came from Drew Bennett (who assisted the first goal) who shot a puck that deflected high in the air and ended up hitting the Proctor goalie in the back and falling into the net. The Hornets showed no quit however being down early and Troy Ladka responded at the 9:50 mark to cut the lead to 1 with a nice breakaway where he faked out KUA netminder Veeti Kohvakka and slid it past him.
KUA came out in the second more poised and started to take the momentum back. With less than 4 minutes into the period KUA was awarded a penalty shot after a Proctor defender covered the puck in the crease and 6’3″ Tomas Mazura made them pay with a brilliant move faking left and using his reach to stuff it in the right side of the net. Again, despite KUA’s size and speed, Proctor kept coming after them and playing a back and forth game exchanging chances at both ends. It wasn’t until 4:28 remaining in the period that Proctors sophomore standout James Tepper fired a snap shot past KUA goalie to cut the lead again to 1.
That wouldn’t be the end of scoring as both teams would find the back of the net within the last 14 seconds of the period; KUA striking first off a goal from Kyle Penney and then Proctor quickly 12 seconds later with just 2 seconds remaining off a goal from Myles Abbate.
Proctor being at home with a one goal game heading into the third period gave Proctor Head Coach Mike Walsh confidence they could pull off the upset. “I thought we had them,” he said after the game. However, the Wildcats would score twice in the third, once on an empty netter, to put the game away and maintain their undefeated record. Their first was a power play goal from Seth Stadheim where he blasted it by stingey Proctor netminder Cole Chingras halway through the third and the last goal sealed the game on an empty netter from Drew Bennett. KUA, the two time defending Elite 8 Champions, will faceoff against two more Lakes Region opponents this week in Brewster and Tilton while Proctor will face St. Paul’s.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Drew Bennett, KUA
2nd Star: James Tepper, Proctor
3rd Star: Veeti Kohvakka, KUA
KUA wasn’t their best at stretches in this game but when it mattered they bore down and got the win. The team has a lot of depth and can beat you in a variety of ways; they have speed, they possess the puck, they get bodies to the net and have some size. Defensively the move pucks up ice and they have a great power play which scored twice in this game. As noted in earlier reports the team isn’t as top heavy as some of their prior teams in recent years and will get scoring from up and down the lineup. Goaltender Veeti Kohvakka faced 48 shots and was under pressure a lot in this game and earned a hard fought win which was one of their question marks heading into the season. The team has played just 4 games this season and has already scored 23 goals.
Proctor should be proud of their effort in this game; they never looked intimidated and they never took their foot off the gas. They don’t have the same kind of fire power as KUA but they went toe to toe with them for most of the game and despite a 6-3 outcome, the shots were an even 48-48. They played a strong team game, their defense showed much improvement from previous viewings and were able to run 3 lines upfront. James Tepper is really starting to find his stride and will be a hot commodity among college scouts at the upcoming Lawrence/Groton Holiday Tournament. Goaltender Cole Chingras was a big reason Proctor was in this game; although he let in 5 goals, 2 of them were very unlucky bounces, one was a penalty shot and two were against the power play.