Boys Varsity Ice Hockey
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Dec 16, 2019
- GRIZZLIES: 3
OYSTER RIVER HIGH SCHOOL: 2
From Thomas F. Sullivan Arena on the campus of St. Anselm College - December 16, 2019
On Monday night the Goffstown Grizzlies played their seemingly annual season opener against the Oyster River Bobcats. Oyster River was ranked #7 in the D2 Pre-season rankings, while Goffstown didn't crack the top 8. This season it was Goffstown's turn to play the first game at home. These two teams will meet again on the big ice at the Whittemore Center on February 22nd. With this opponent, the Grizzlies and just about everyone else knows that Oyster River is well coached, structurally sound, and they just never seem to go away. Last night lived up to what you might expect in a game between these two teams.
The first period was played quickly. There were not many whistles or stoppages in play. There was one penalty called on Oyster River when Doug Young was whistled for hooking, but the Grizzlies were not able to capitalize on the advantage. A few minutes later Colby Wright made a clearing pass to Grady Chretien who burst into the offensive zone, behind the Bobcat defense. Chretien got a quick, well aimed shot away that Claden Daubney got a piece of, but not enough to keep it out of the net. The goal came at 7:39 of the opening period to give Goffstown a 1-0 lead. After the goal, Oyster River had finished banging any rust off of their game and played much more crisp the rest of the way. Well, most of the way. At 11:38 of the opening period Daubney made a superb save on Drew O'Brien's bid following a gorgeous pass from Colby Gamache. Then at 12:58 of the period with a delayed hooking penalty coming against Goffstown's Xavier Bibaud, John Kell broke in and scored for the Bobcats. The goal was unassisted. At the end of the period, the score was knotted at one apiece with Oyster River holding a 10-7 lead in shots on goal.
The second period opened with a recurring theme of Goffstown losing face-offs that led to immediate scoring chances for the Bobcats. This happened all night. At 0:21 and 0:26 of the period, James Amorelli made back to back saves at point blank range to keep the game tied at 1-1. Then at 1:25 Colby Gamache sniped a goal for the Grizzlies on a perfect shot that got past Daubney. Isaac McGregor had the lone assist on the go-ahead goal. Nearly two minutes later, Theo Milianes made a picture-perfect pass to Jackson Burke who scored his first career goal at 3:23. This goal would be the eventual game-winner, and Colby Wright also had an assist on this goal. It was a beautiful play. This 2-minute window was really the only other time of the game when Oyster River wasn't at least even in play, if not in control of the play. Though, over the last 25 minutes of this contest, the Bobcats outshot the Grizzlies 25-6. At 11:40 of the period Amorelli made a tremendous save to maintain the 2-goal lead for the Grizzlies. Then at 13:41 Jackson Burke took a 5-minute major for hitting from behind and Eric Donovan took serious exception to the "cheap shot" and was penalized for a 5-minute cross-check himself. Things settled down and the period ended with the Grizzlies holding a 3-1 lead despite being outshot 20-16 overall.
As the second intermission wound down Burke and Donovan returned to their respective penalty boxes. Both players were reminded what time they could vacate the penalty box, and after a whistle. The reason I include this is because that even in times of adversity when a poor decision and reaction has been made there may still be valuable lessons at play. Before the teams lined up for the face-off to start the period, I heard Eric Donovan, one of the captains for Oyster River, apologizing to the referees for his behavior. He took accountability for his poor reaction to Burke's hit from behind, and apologized for giving the referee a reason to call a penalty on him. At no point did he whine or complain, slam his stick, cause a disturbance, or swear while serving his penalty. The fact that I am writing this at all is because all of those things happened last night in the penalty box, just not with this young man. I was impressed with how he carried himself and took accountability for a dumb penalty he took in the heat of the moment. I don't warrant cheap shots, or reactionary stupidity, but if and when it happens, that is how you learn from it. That is how you take responsibility for putting people into positions to do what they had to do. That is a sign of maturity and a lesson many can learn from.
The third period started and it was clear that Oyster River was going to finish this game with both barrels blaring. The Bobcats offense and fore-checking pressure were turned up to their top notch. Goffstown wouldn't get a shot on goal until the 9:14 mark of the period and that shot was flipped in from the blue line. The visitors registered the first 16 shots of the period in barrage after barrage of offense and pressure. If I didn't know better, I would dare say that the Bobcats even threw the kitchen sink at the Grizzlies. I will have to check the video.
Goffstown had a very difficult time getting the puck out of their own defensive zone and when Amorelli tied up a save the Grizzlies would lose the resulting face-off and the cycle repeated over and over. At 4:16 of the period, on their 7th shot of the frame, Doug Young got a puck behind Amorelli to bring the 'Cats closer at 3-2. Lucas Hamilton had the lone assist on the even-strength goal. At 5:39 of the period, Jackson Burke was called for hooking. As if the Bobcats weren't imposing their will enough already up to that point, this power play resulted in an onslaught that looked like a torrent of water being let out from behind a dam. The Bobcats pounded 9 shots on goal in 138 seconds. I literally wrote in my notes that James Amorelli was standing on his head at one point in making saves in bunches. With the penalty kill finally over, and one weak shot on goal for the Grizzlies there were still 5+ minutes of hockey to be played in a one-goal game.
Somehow Goffstown had withstood the various incursions and clung to their 3-2 lead. They gathered their collective breath, as face-offs piled up and they held the fort. Over the next 3 minutes Oyster River didn't get a shot on goal, and the pace slowed some. Goffstown was finally able to expose some of the Bobcats desperation with good 'first-pass' plays out of their end to create some odd-man rushes but only were able to get one shot on goal in the final five and a half minutes. At 13:44 of the final stanza, Goffstown iced the puck. Oyster River took a timeout and pulled their goaltender. Goffstown held firm, allowing a single shot on goal and held on for the 3-2 opening night victory.
After the first 2 days of hockey tryouts were snowed out two weeks ago, the pace of the season has started and will only ramp up from here. Snow today has wiped out after school activities so it's right back into the frying pan as Goffstown hits the ice again tomorrow night against the Merrimack Tomahawks. The Grizzlies, lest they forget, have been eliminated from the post-season tournament twice in the last four seasons by Merrimack, with last year being a monumental 3-0 upset of the Grizzlies at home. Goffstown has a diverse group this season with only 4 seniors and 12 freshmen in the program (Varsity and JV), with everything in between. Even though the opening night victory over Oyster River took 36 saves from James Amorelli, there is reason for optimism. This group has the potential to be as deep a squad as Goffstown has seen since these seniors were sophomores and three lines could bury the puck. Goaltending is always key, and amazingly, the Grizzlies have plenty of depth in this position now. Tomorrow though, is just another example that nothing can be taken for granted in NH high school hockey, Merrimack has a great coach and a roster full of good players. Buckle up, hold on tight, and stay tuned. It's hockey season again in Goffstown, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds next. We will get to know this group better as we go.
In other NHIAA action on opening night, Pre-season #3 Dover traveled to the igloo and handled #4 Kingswood 5-2. Somersworth-Coe-Brown (#6 and my darkhorse to turn some heads this season) hit the road and pounded Spaulding 8-1.
Goffstown (1-0-0) vs. Oyster River (0-1-0)
Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH
December 16, 2019. 7:30 PM Start:
Goffstown: 1-2-0 = 3
Oyster River: 1-0-1 = 2
Goffstown: 07-09-02 = 18
Oyster River: 10-10-18 = 38
1st Goffstown at 7:39. Even. Grady Chretien (1) from Colby Wright (1).
1st Oyster River at 12:58. Even. John Kell unassisted.
2nd Goffstown at 1:25. Even. Colby Gamache (1) from Isaac McGregor (1).
2nd Goffstown at 3:23. Even. Jackson Burke (1) from Theo Milianes (1) and Colby Wright (1).
3rd Oyster River at 4:16. Even. Doug Young from Lucas Hamilton.
Goffstown Power Play: 0 for 1.
Oyster River Power Play: 0 for 1.
Goffstown: James Amorelli 36 of 38. (45:00)
Oyster River: Claden Daubney 15 of 18 (43:44)