Goffstown @ Winnacunnet, Rinks at Exeter. 8:20 pm.
The varsity hockey team from Goffstown High School opened their season on the road, in someone else’s building. But, you must start somewhere. As the teams skated to warmup in the pregame skate, it was obvious that things may come a little bit harder when the schedule flips and the games start to count. The student body from Winnacunnet pressed, in numbers, against the glass directly behind Goffstown’s goaltender, Colin Holt and wanted to make their presence felt. Let the games begin.
Goffstown overcame two penalties in the opening period and still managed to take a 1-0 lead after one period. The Grizzlies rifled 13 shots on goal while the home team Warriors managed just 2 shots on net. Goffstown’s Dylan Hyers and Tyler Riendeau were whistled for penalties but the defense and net minder Colin Holt were able to turn away any and all scoring chances in the period. With 3:30 left in the period Tyler Riendeau showed his Christmas spirit by loudly ringing the bell, er uh, a shot off of the post. Then, Goffstown finally broke through by scoring with 1:04 left in the period on an open net, tap in by Kainen Lassonde from Noah Charron while there was a delayed penalty coming to the Warriors. Grizzlie’s forward, Sebastian Beal, stood up and took a hit in his own end to make a play, and get the puck out of the defensive end. In doing so, he took a hit from Hayden Choate which resulted in a delayed penalty to be called on Winnacunnet. Before the referee could blow his whistle to call the penalty, Noah Charron (Goffstown) gathered the puck and attacked the zone with speed. His approach forced Winnacunnet, goaltender Morgan McGirl, out high to cut the angle down, then Charron fed a beautiful pass over to a wide open Kainen Lassonde who tapped the puck into an open net.
The second period ended as the first one did, with Goffstown holding a 1-0 lead over the home team. However, Goffstown missed a golden opportunity to add to their lead while mustering just one shot on goal during a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play. The Warriors had been called for tripping (Cam Strukel) and a bench minor for too many men on the ice, all at the same time. Winnacunnet did get some better scoring chances in the period despite getting just 4 shots on goal in the middle stanza. James Nash was the Warriors best player in the period, generating almost all of their offensive chances. With 11:09 to play in the period he had a breakaway chance, but was pestered just enough at the last moment by Goffstown’s Brett Lassonde to take a shot that ended up trickling just wide of the net. In the final minute of the period a Goffstown defenseman (I forgot which number he was wearing) made a daring attempt to join the play at center ice, but that backfired and immediately sent Winnacunnet in on a 4-on-1 break. Colin Holt made a save and the rebound attempt slid just outside the post, nullifying the scoring threat. Goffstown had an 11-4 edge in shots on goal in the period, giving them a 24 to 6 advantage after two periods.
Winnacunnet brought some offense to their game in the final period. They outshot Goffstown 10-7 for the period and tied the game at 1 apiece with 4:50 to play. After maintaining possession for several shots on goal, the Warriors finally pounced on a rebound they could put in the net. Conor Allyn scored the Warriors goal with the assist going to Brian Affaunt. Prior to this offensive surge the Grizzlies had killed a penalty early in the third period where didn’t even allow Winnacunnet into the offensive end with possession of the puck. Then, with 4:09 to play, Winnacunnet took a penalty and they also called their timeout. As the powerplay progressed, Goffstown took several shots that whistled wide of the net, and the penalty was killed. Then in an instance it all came together in one shot. The puck came out along the boards to defenseman, Nick Nault. Nault wired a slapshot from the left boards and beat the goaltender clean with 2:06 to play. Goffstown led 2-1. Noah Charron would get called for a slash with 1:41 left to put the Warriors on the power play with a chance to tie the game. With 0:53 left to play the Warriors pulled their goal tender, Morgan McGirl, for the extra attacker and a 6-on-4 advantage. The Grizzlies stood tall and defended their blue line, sending puck after puck the length of the ice to run out time, and leave town with a 2-1 road win. For the game, Goffstown had a 31-16 advantage in shots. McGirl saved 29 of 31 shots, while Holt snagged 15 of 16 in the Grizzlies victory.
Goffstown will travel to Rochester, NH to play game two of their season in the old barn known as Rochester Arena on Friday night, December 18th at 8:00 PM against Somersworth High School.