Two of the Vermont’s hottest high school boys hockey teams collide Wednesday night at Riley Rink when Burr and Burton Academy (11-3) hosts U-32 (13-1) in a Lake Division showdown at 5:45 p.m.
The Bulldogs, ranked fourth in the division through Tuesday, have won 10 straight games since an early-season skid.
The defending state champion Raiders, currently sitting atop the VPA standings, have won every game they’ve played since suffering a seesaw, 6-4 defeat to BBA in the season-opener.
“They’re the real deal,” BBA coach Cory Herrington said of U-32. “They’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of speed.”
Only 2012 state runner-up Northfield (11-2-1), which has won its last 11 games, can match their momentum at this point in the season. And Northfield could be right there at the end of the season, too. The Marauders, No. 2 in the league table, travel to Burr and Burton on Feb. 20 and head to U-32 three days later.
U-32, breaking in a pair of new goaltenders, appears to have hit its stride since giving up a season-high six goals to BBA on home ice back on Dec. 8.
The Raiders, with three 10-goal games to their credit, are scoring at a clip of 6.2 goals per game against a 1.8 goals against average. Senior forward Jordan Jones leads the attack with 18 goals and 12 assists on the season. Defenseman Shane O’Neill has 14 goals and 11 assists in his account, while Cole Mugford has notched nine goals and 23 assists.
Herrington said the Raiders, who knocked out the Bulldogs in the state semifinals last spring, are solid all-around, with effective special teams play and a demanding forecheck.
“We’ve got to get to the net, get pucks on the net and play a complete game,” Herrington said. “We can’t afford any turnovers on the blue line.”
Like the Raiders, Burr and Burton has also rallied since its last loss, a 5-4 setback against Hartford on Dec. 28.
Behind a trio of game-breaking senior forwards, the Bulldogs’ offense has averaged 3.9 goals per game. Brock Pollard and Sean Paradis each have 14 goals, with Pollard’s eight assists edging Paradis by one. Henry Buckley has eight goals to go along with four assists.
Senior goaltender Zack Stewart (2.2 GAA) has allowed just three goals in the past six games, which include a 4-1 win against third-ranked Brattleboro (11-3).