.By Mike Pearce For The Essex Reporter
In a high-octane matchup at Cairns Arena in South Burlington on Sunday, Feb. 23, the Essex Youth Hockey Association’s Bantam Blue team won a spot in the state final by defeating its longtime nemesis, the St. Albans Leafs, in a 3-2 double overtime win. Fans were treated to some very exciting hockey and an exhibition of pure teamwork by the Essex Bantams.
The Essex boys battled their way to the semifinals in several games that took place over the weekend. A 2-2 tie against Barre, a 5-1 win against St. Albans and a 3-3 tie against CSB landed Essex with the No. 2 seed and forced Sunday’s deciding game against St. Albans.
Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie, with Essex goals from Chris Blanco on an assist from Waylon Almeida, and Almeida on an assist from Nathanial Sisters. Goaltender Phoenix Lamonda played an outstanding game, stopping all but two of the shots he faced, including a game-saving penalty shot.
After a scoreless first overtime period, the game was finally decided when a shot from defenseman Alex Pearce was deflected to the right of the goal, where it wound up on the stick of Ryan Young. Young buried the shot, clinching a ticket to the finals amid wild cheers from the crowd.
The championship game will be held at the Middlebury Sports Center on Sunday, March 9, starting at 9:30 a.m.