Boys Varsity Ice Hockey
Game Summaries & Headlines.
Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH – March 2, 2019:
There are a time or two maybe, if any times at all, that I have seen a hockey game that played out like the last Quarterfinal to start in the D2 Tournament on Saturday night. Goffstown carried the play for virtually the entire hockey game but was unable to get a puck past Ben Hardy and the Tomahawks. The Grizzlies fell, 3-0, after Merrimack added a pair of desperation, long distance, empty net goals late in the 3rd period. The #3 seed, the Grizzlies were shut out for the first time since Feb. 4th, 2017 (51 games) at Oyster River, on a night when they outshot their opponents 31-12 and lost 2-0.
You have to wonder how things beyond our control playout sometimes. The Goffstown vs. Merrimack game was scheduled to start at 7:00 pm but didn’t get underway until after 8:00 pm. There were college and high school tournament games beginning at 1:00 pm and things fell behind when SNHU beat St. Anselm, 4-3 in the NE-10 final. Then Bedford scored in the last fraction of a second at the end of the second overtime to beat Exeter, 3-2, which further delayed the evening’s events. After both teams had been at the rink for 2+ hours and warmed up more than once only to realize another false start, it was game time. For real.
Finally, it was time to announce lineups, sing the anthem, and get things started for the final game of the day. Al St. Louis belted out the National Anthem once again and did a great job as usual. Then the puck dropped somewhere around 8:05 pm. Merrimack didn’t get their first shot on goal until 5:00 into the opening period. Then Goffstown took a penalty on an obvious interference call.
The Grizzlies killed the penalty without allowing a single shot. While shorthanded, Grady Chretien created a shot for himself and grazed the far post with his shot. At 9:57 of the period, Dylan Sadowski let a shot go from the right faceoff circle that met Kyle LaSella’s left pad at about the same time that Noah Melker arrived on the doorstep of the crease.
LaSella made the save but the puck was immediately rebounded by Melker and put into the net to give Merrimack 1-0 lead on their 3rd and final shot of the opening period. I don’t think anyone in the building would have guessed then that would be the last goal scored of the night while both goalies were on the ice.
My ever-skeptical mind noticed some things early on in the game that I didn’t want to see because, to me, they often times lead to an outcome like last night’s final. For example, Griffin Cook has a step and speed for a potential breakaway, but the puck bounced away from his blade long enough for the defense to recover.
Grady Chretien receives a great pass but the puck just barely gets tipped by the Merrimack defense and he has to break stride to make the next move, and the advantage is lost. The same type of thing happens to Colby Gamache on his way out of the zone for a potential 2-on-1 and nothing much materializes. Some people around hockey refer to this kind of thing as something known as puck luck. Goffstown didn’t lack in scoring chances at any point in the game, puck luck or not. The Grizzlies knew they were facing a top-notch goaltender in Ben Hardy and subsequently, many Grizzlies’ shots missed their mark completely as the shooter was likely trying to be too perfect in trying to beat Hardy. It seemed that all of the Grizzlies that played had chances to score throughout the game. Cook-Beal-Colby did everything but score. Colin Burke, Jacob Noonan, Brett Lassonde, and Colby Wright all made plays that led to great chances too. Isaac McGregor, Grady Chretien, and Theo Milianes worked the puck up and down the ice, in and out of the offensive zone, but nobody could get that elusive first goal for the Grizzlies.
Over the course of the second period, I only made a few notes on my notepad, and all of them were notes about Ben Hardy making sensational saves against Goffstown. At 2:09 a huge glove save on Colby Gamache. At 8:30 a brilliant left toe save. At 13:10 a tremendous save on Colin Burke after a brilliant pass from Colby Gamache. Then at 13:37 Griffin Cook was robbed by Hardy after Sebastian Beal and Gamache set him up. There were no penalties called. There were no goals or assists. Goffstown led the shot parade by a count of 15-4 in the period and held a 25-7 advantage in shots on goal through 30 minutes. Still, the Tomahawks had the advantage on the scoreboard, 1-0.
The third period wasn’t much different really. Goffstown continued to possess the puck, make passes, and get scoring chances. Then the Grizzlies went on a powerplay after Andrew Frothingham tripped Sebastian Beal from behind causing Beal to fall awkwardly backward and smack the back of his head on the ice. He recovered quickly. Goffstown ripped off 5 shots on the powerplay. Hardy again was huge. He made back-to-back saves on a pair of Beal shots at point blank. Then right at the end of the penalty time, the Grizzlies made a series of passes leading to a Colin Burke one-timer opportunity. Burke gathered the puck instead and let a powerful wrist shot go.
The slight pause to gather and shoot the puck gave Hardy just enough time to get his torso in front of Burke’s shot. The shot stung Hardy but it didn’t go into the goal. The Grizzlies just could not get the tying goal. Then at 13:38 Goffstown pulled Kyle LaSella for an extra skater. At the time, Kyle had faced only 10 shots in the contest. Goffstown couldn’t convert any opportunities and both Frothingham and Zach Stimeling scored empty-net goals, at 14:02 and 14:12 respectively. The final score read, 3-0, and Goffstown had an astounding 36 shots on goal, to just 13 shots against Kyle LaSella. Merrimack advanced and will play against #2 Dover on Wednesday night in the semifinals.
Goffstown finished the regular season at 14-3-1, the best in their history. Adding the Christmas tournament and playoffs, they were 17-5-1 overall, also the best overall record in their history. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies though, they lost their third straight home playoff game in as many seasons.
Please keep an eye open right here for the season recap coming in the next couple of weeks. Thank you.
Even on a difficult night like Saturday night’s season-ending loss. There are some images and moments that, when isolated, speak volumes to us, or at least to me. Then I hold back tears and say thank you, because if it wasn’t for the kids and their pursuit of whatever each player values within the team dynamic, there be nothing here to see.
- It would be hard to find a closer knit, more fun, collective gathering of good kids, than this group. (Photo by Charron)
- The season just ended, and these 3 thrilled us all season, yet still remembered there is still plenty to smile about. Thank you. (Photo by Charron)
- To all of you who make the production of game night such a special, meaningful event each and every time; thank you. Goffstown hockey gets it right. (Photo by Charron)
- The puck seemed elusive at times for the Grizzlies despite their offensive onslaught. (Photo by Charron)
- Colby Wright jumped right in and played well, getting big minutes on defense this season especially when Evan McQuaig didn’t return. (Photo by Charron)
- How these types of chances didn’t result in any Goffstown goals is still somewhat of a mystery. (Photo by Charron)
- Lots of folks are looking forward to what Chretien will deliver in the next two seasons for the Grizzlies. (Photo by Charron)
- Griffin Cook who was electric all season just could not buy a goal against Merrimack. (Photo by Charron)
Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH
March 2, 2019. 8:05 PM Start:
Goffstown: 0-0-0 = 0
Merrimack: 1-0-2 = 3
Goffstown: 10-15-11 = 36
Merrimack: 03-04-08 = 15
1st Merrimack at 9:57. Even. Noah Melker from Dylan Sadowski.
2nd No scoring.
3rd Merrimack at 14:02. Empty. Andrew Frothingham unassisted.
3rd Merrimack at 14:12. Empty. Zach Stimeling unassisted.
Jake Noonan 2:00 Interference
Sebastian Beal 2:00 Charging
Andrew Frothingham 2:00 Tripping
Goffstown Power Play: 0 for 1.
Merrimack Power Play: 0 for 2.
Goffstown: Kyle LaSella 12 of 13. (44:30)
Merrimack: Ben Hardy 36 of 36. (45:00)