FITCHBURG — It seems the Blue Knights might have the Bernardians’ number.
For the second time this season, Lunenburg/Ayer-Shirley skated past previously red-hot St. Bernard’s, topping its Coughlin Conference foe 4-1 at the Wallace Civic Center Thursday evening.
The Blue Knights improve to 5-8-2 (2-5-0) with the victory, while the Bernardians drop to 10-5-0 (4-5-0) with their second straight loss after a nine-game winning streak. The Blue Knights moved to 2-0 on the season against St. Bernard’s, having won 4-2 on Dec. 19.
Both teams put 27 shots on goal in the contest, but Lunenburg netminder Garrett Hakey was on his game, posting 26 saves on the night to earn the win.
“Even game, but we were able to capitalize on a few more chances and come out on top,” Lunenburg head coach Eric Short said. “We capitalized and our goaltender played great. He was outstanding and we did a good job of keeping things to the outside, no breakaways or anything and we kept their speed in check.”
The Blue Knights — playing as the visitors on Thursday — scored twice in a 36-second span in the first to take control. Dom Benner opened the scoring, stuffing a shot past St. Bernard’s goalie Chase Bergeron after gathering the rebound of a Logan Martin shot 5:29 into the contest for a 1-0 advantage.
Less than a minute later, Ethan Dionne doubled the lead, streaking in on a loose puck and chipping it over Bergeron, who had left the crease in an attempt to play the puck. Dionne’s tally proved to be the game-winner on the evening.
Lunenburg didn’t let up, though. Martin fired a shot past the glove of Bergeron for a 3-0 lead in the second and after St. Bernard’s got on the board, Lunenburg responded just 30 seconds later. Ahead 3-1, Andrew Nicosia’s wraparound trickled in to restore a three-goal edge.
“We’re just having trouble scoring goals the last couple games. We struggled against Gardner (Wednesday night) and we had trouble tonight,” St. Bernard’s head coach Stephen Sylvia said. “But these kids never give up. They battled right to the end tonight.”
The Bernardians’ lone goal came with 5:55 remaining as Hunter Lammi poked home the rebound of a Nolan Stout shot to cut the Lunenburg advantage to 3-1.
Playing with just 11 skaters and a goalie, the Bernardians had their chances. They outshot the Blue Knights 9-5 in the final 15 minutes, with a large portion of play taking place in Lunenburg’s defensive zone.
“It’s amazing to see these kids and what they’re doing right now,” Sylvia said. “There’s no quit. The keep working and they’re doing it for each other.”
The Blue Knights were able to stand tall in their own zone behind a defensive effort led by Tyler Fortier and Jake Waldron, allowing Hakey — a junior — to make most of his saves fairly comfortably.
“With a small roster, there are advantages and disadvantages. He’s getting his best players out there every other shift, but if your third line can match up with that and play with them, you can wear them down a bit,” Short said. “I thought all three of our lines played well and our defense made sure that the big scoring threats were limited.”
The Blue Knights next hit the ice for game action on Wednesday, welcoming Gardner to the Wallace Civic Center. St. Bernard’s travels to the Chelmsford Forum on Saturday night to face Greater Lowell/Nashoba Tech.