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Bay Port blows late lead, falls to SPASH

By Rich Palzewic

Contributing Writer

 Bay Port goalie Devin Rustlie searches for the puck in the Pirates’ 2-1 loss to SPASH on Dec. 7. The senior goalie made 30 saves in net. Rich Palzewic photo 

DE PERE – For 49 minutes, the Bay Port hockey team had Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) on the ropes.

But then, it all changed in a matter of seconds. 

The Pirates committed several late penalties in the final minutes and saw their lead evaporate in a 2-1 nonconference loss to the Panthers on Dec. 7 at the Cornerstone Community Center. 

With a 5-on-3 power-play advantage plus an extra attacker after pulling its goalie, SPASH scored the equalizer with 1 minute, 10 seconds remaining before scoring the go-ahead goal with 34 seconds left to eke out the win. 

The winning goal also came with the Panthers skating with a two-man advantage after Bay Port had taken another penalty. 

“Our guys battled all night,” Bay Port Assistant Coach Derek Donahue said. “It was a little disheartening how the game ended, but everyone we asked to step up did so. We didn’t want to be in the (penalty) box that late in the game, and we have to find a way to kill those penalties off. There was no lack of effort on our part – we have to stick together and get better from this.”

Pirates goalie Devin Rustlie – who made 30 saves in net – was stout between the pipes all night and deserved a better outcome, Donahue said. 

“From day one, Devin has put in the time and effort,” he said. “That’s what you can expect from him. He kept us in the game maybe longer than we should have been with some big saves. Devin is a great guy – he brings it every day. He should be happy with his game.” 

Rustlie made a big save 90 seconds into the game and then had a pair of strong saves halfway through the opening period to keep the contest scoreless. 

The senior goalie also stopped a Panthers’ breakaway attempt with about four minutes left in the period. 

In the middle frame, with Bay Port (4-1-1) on the power play, Adrian Vina’s shot from the left wing was tipped in by Konor Tignall to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead six minutes into the period. 

Bay Port then killed off three SPASH (3-0-1) power plays after the go-ahead score. 

With four seconds remaining in the period, Rustlie again came up big, stopping a 2-on-0 Panthers’ breakaway attempt. 

SPASH had 32 shots on goal, while the Pirates collected 22. 

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