The Houlton-Hodgdon Black Hawks went 1-2 in their last three games, winning a contest against Hampden 4-2 and dropping away games to Gardiner and Winslow last weekend by 3-1 and 5-3 margins. This gives the team a 4-8-1 mark going into the final five games of the season.
The game with Hampden started slow for the Black Hawks, as they couldn’t get their skating legs under them. The sluggish first period ended with the score knotted at one as the Black Hawks struck for a goal by Morgan Hall, with assists going to line mates Logan Holmes and Craig Buxton. Net minder Malik Abouleish saw seven shots in the period.
The Black Hawks came out of the dressing room for the second with much more energy and drive. They moved the puck better and beat the Broncos to almost every loose puck. This resulted in three goals and a 4-1 lead before Hampden struck for a late goal to make the score 4-2 after two periods of play. The Black Hawk markers came off the sticks of Hall, Buxton and Ben Ward. The only assist picked up was by Hall.
The third period saw a determined Bronco squad giving a good effort to get back into the game, but the Black Hawk defense was very tight and the period ended with no scoring. Abouleish saw six shots and stopped them all and he finished with 19 saves on the night including a couple of real tough stops.
Last weekend’s trip to central Maine saw the Black Hawks drop a pair of games to teams above them in the standings. Gardiner brought a very polished game to the ice last Friday night and outshot the Black Hawks 42-24. The Tigers looked like a championship-caliber team, but the Black Hawks played them tough in dropping the 3-1 decision. The Black Hawk goal was scored by Ashir Abouleish on a power play with the assists going to line mates Lowell Matthews and Ian Gervais. Goalie Abouleish made 39 stops on the night and a busy and well played game in net.
Last Saturday, the team ran into more opposition than they bargained for, as the quality of the officiating was marginal at best. Every time it seemed like the Black Hawks were going to take control of the game, outplaying their opponents, they seemed to fall victims of very questionable calls and non-calls. With the game tied 3-3 in the third and all the momentum going the Black Hawks way, two questionable penalties were called that resulted in two Black Raider goals and the margin of defeat on the night, according to Houlton-Hodgdon coach Joel Trickey.
Black Hawk goals were scored by Ward, A. Abouleish and Matthews, with assists going to Matthews and Cody Briggs. Both net minders faced 32 shots on the night with the vast majority of the Winslow shots coming on power plays as the Black Hawks outplayed the Raiders for most of the night.
“Our record is a bit deceiving as the teams we have lost to are a combined 54-15,” said Trickey. “Our schedule has been against the better teams in the state and we are trying to find that extra push to get up with them before playoffs come. Despite dropping two games last weekend, the team might have made more progress in those two days than we have all season. Our kids finally were able to play strong aggressive hockey for the entire game and they have found the passion that you need to give yourself a chance to win every game.
“If we continue to build on what we found this past road trip, we could go into the playoffs with a good winning streak and a lot of momentum,” Trickey added. “Everyone is feeling pretty good about where we are headed even though our record isn’t up with the better teams in the league at this point.”