Bauer Hockey christmas classic
Monday, December 28, 2015. 8pm @ JFK Coliseum, Manchester, NH-
Last night was one of those nights when the kid in me rumbled through me looking for a place to get out. I felt my body twitch and tense while watching the Goffstown Grizzlies hockey team play an up and down, spirited affair against Manchester Central. My competitive side wanted to be out there helping the team somehow, but I stood and watched, quietly pulling for the Grizzlies.
Both teams entered their last game of the tournament looking for their first win in pool play. Something had to give.
The first period was a sign of what was to come I suppose. End to end play, chances, good saves, some hitting, and just good pace. The period would end with each team getting 6 shots on goal. Central scored the only goal of the period when Chad Lougee took the puck after it caromed off of Goffstown’s Jake Noonan’s stick and burst down the right-wing for a shot that would rebound to Stephen Langley. Langley put the puck past Colin Holt in net and Central had a 1-0 lead. Goffstown would kill off a penalty and get some chances themselves before Holt would rescue his squad with a brilliant save on a point-blank shot with 3:35 left in the period. Then Max Lajeunesse would get behind the Central defense and ring a shot off of the post behind Central’s freshman goaltender, Keenan Alnahas. After a period, the only thing decided was that these two teams match up well, and it was going to be a game of back and forth.
1:25 into the second period, Goffstown tied the score when the line of Sebastian Beal, Keenan Lassonde, and Noah Charron worked together to break the puck out of their own end. The result was a goal scored by Charron with the assist to Lassonde. Game tied 1-1. Half way through the period Sam Greenwood stormed the Central net and beat Alnahas in net, only to draw iron. The final 2:08 of the period would be confusing, chaotic, and leaves me no choice but to get my eyes and ears checked today. See, with 2:08 to play Tyler Riendeau was called for slashing, thus giving the Little Green of Central a power play. Half way through the power play Goffstown’s Nick Nault and Central’s Nathan Potvin couldn’t contain their holiday spirit and both were sent to the box for slashing and roughing respectively. Still a power play for Central. Then out by the blue line, Grizzlie, Sam Greenwood blocked a shot and the puck ricocheted off of his body and into the neutral zone. Greenwood picked up the loose puck and bolted down the ice on a breakaway. Greenwood deposited a wrist shot just under the crossbar, up on the top shelf where Grandma hides the Christmas cookies, and Goffstown led 2-1 on the shorthanded goal.
Er, uh, the goal was waved off. I know I saw it with my own two eyes, as did dozens more. Apparently, behind the play, while Sam blocked the shot and skated in and scored, there was a whistle, or at least an attempt to blow a whistle. I know the Local Access Channel 16 guys and I didn’t hear the whistle. Based on reactions around the rink, it didn’t seem as though anybody heard the whistle. But our eyes and ears didn’t figure into the equation. No goal. Colin Burke for Goffstown and Stephen Langley for Central were carted to the box for matching roughing penalties. Central still had their power play in tact. Then as these turns often do, they turn completely, and Goffstown’s 2-1 lead, turned to a 2-1 deficit 26 seconds later when Cody Lappas scored on the power play. What a mess that couple of minutes turned out to be. Goffstown trailed 2-1 after two periods.
After five penalties were called in the second period, there were five more called in the third period. Goffstown had minor penalties called on Keenan Lassonde, one for elbowing and then later, another one for high sticking. Sam Greenwood was whistled for charging. Central saw Logan Pacheco go for interference while Zach McKenna received a five-minute major for boarding. Despite all of the penalties there was just one goal scored, and it came at even strength. Goffstown’s line of Ben Roy, Alex McCarthy, and Griffin Cook combined to get the equalizer with 5:53 to play. Roy would get the goal on an assist from Cook. Power plays, penalty kills, time outs, and a little bit of desperation would control the last 4 minutes, before regulation time would end in a tie. To overtime we go.
Goffstown started the overtime, still on the power play (4-on-3) from McKenna’s major, and despite a couple of shots and good scoring chances the game played on. Alnahas kept Central tied, as did Holt at the other end for Goffstown. After regulation time, both teams had 17 shots on goal. Both teams had scored 2 goals, at least, and all was even. Then in the overtime, both teams had 3 shots apiece before Chad Lougee beat Grizzlie defenseman, Dylan Hyers to the puck, and centered a perfect pass to Stephen Langley for the game winner with 0:53.1 left to play. Mike Fortin, Hyers defensive partner on the shift, had been in the offensive zone for a scoring chance when the puck was cleared by Central. Once Lougee won the puck from Hyers, it left Langley all alone if the pass got through, and to Goffstown’s dismay, the pass was perfect. Both goaltenders were awesome at times in net, making up for turnovers and other mistakes in front of them. Alnahas got the win saving 18 of 20 shots, while Holt made some outstanding saves en route to his 18 of 21 performance.
Somewhere around 10pm on a winter night before the storm, literally, my heart-felt a little heavier, and I felt a twinge of pain in the pit of my stomach. I hate to lose, even when it’s just being emotionally vested in my kids’ teams. I didn’t rant, and I won’t rave, but the remainder of the night seemed a little less enjoyable knowing that a close game had been lost. Maybe someday my competitive side will subside, but probably not.
In summary, Goffstown lost three games by a combined score of 11-2. They played three Division I teams and gave it their best. Honestly, this roster will be better for having competed in the Bauer Hockey Christmas Classic. They gave Hanover all they could handle for 41 minutes before the Marauders broke through. They are capable. They are learning. The youngsters now have 9 games under their belt, including scrimmages, and I look forward to watching this team develop in 2016. The youngsters from Stephen Provencher to the veterans in Holt, Roy, and Greenwood will keep working. They’ll keep bonding. They’ll continue to develop and there will be wonderful moments on and off of the ice for the next couple of months. I look forward to all of it, even the tough losses, because getting anywhere worthy wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t met with adversity along the way.
The Grizzlies return to the home ice of Sullivan Arena on Wednesday evening at 7pm for a game against the high scoring Merrimack Tomahawks. Merrimack is 2-0 on the season and have scored 18 goals in those two wins.