Monday, January 18, 2016. 430pm @ Whittemore Center, Durham, NH – Goffstown @ Oyster River.
Well, maybe it was just me, or maybe it was the bigger ice surface and the big arena where the sound of spirit seemed all but lost. Maybe it was a game played on a Holiday when the regiment of normal days seems to change some what. Whatever it was, it seemed to me that the Grizzlies showed up in Durham, NH to play Oyster River, and neither team showed much of a spark. Dare I say, there seemed to be a shortage of “you are not going to beat me today” attitude, especially from the Grizzlies. I could be completely wrong so I won’t go any further down this road, as I only had to sit and watch the game after some excellent pizza at Durham House of Pizza with my wife and the twins before the game.
The game started with both teams moving the puck some, but neither team really possessing the puck for very long. Oyster River started to gain the edge in play. With 8:48 to play in the opening period, Goffstown’s Mike Fortin stepped up to make a big hit on an Oyster River player between the circles in his defensive end. The void left out in front of the net was filled by Oyster River’s Ethan Keslar who lifted a shot past Colin Holt in net, but the puck hit the post and stayed out of the net.
Two minutes later, Grizzlie defenseman, Nick Nault took a pass from Colin Burke and moved the puck quickly on a beautiful pass to Tyler Riendeau who got behind the Oyster River defense only to be denied a goal by Liam McNamara in net for the Bobcats. The Grizzlies were called for one penalty in the period when Max Lajuenesse was called for tripping. Nault, Burke, Fortin, Brett Lassonde, and Sam Greenwood all played key parts in killing off the penalty. Holt made 7 saves on 7 shots and got a little help from the post in the period. The Grizzlies only mustered 3 shots on goal, including the Riendeau breakaway.
Period two saw both teams play at a better pace. Oyster River would score on a play that really took shape from behind the net. This theme would replay throughout the third period as well. Having more room to operate behind the net on the Olympic ice sheet, and no one really to contend with, the Bobcats scored their first goal. Matt Bishop would score the goal on assists from Tyler Harvey and Samuel Davies. The Grizzlies would get six shots on goal in the period with their best chance coming on a nice combination of passing from Kainen Lassonde and Noah Charron who sent the puck to the crease where Sebastian Beal battled a defenseman and the goaltender for the loose puck, knocking just about everything but the puck into the net. After two periods, the Grizzlies trailed 1-0 and had only 9 shots on goal.
The third period faceoff started the period with the Grizzlies bench all pounding their sticks against the boards to generate noise, and maybe pick up their own intensity. So, maybe I wasn’t completely wrong in the opening paragraph.
Either way, it did seem to help, after senior goaltender, Colin Holt saved his team’s bacon with 12:36 to play. The Bobcats were on the rush and both Grizzlie defenseman went to defend the wing on the left wing side, this left the center of the ice wide open. As good hockey plays would unfold, the puck was passed perfectly to the Bobcat forward in the slot area and he ripped a shot that hit Holt in the shoulder and kicked off of the far post. Holt eventually scrambled on the rebound and kept the puck out of the net. Then, just 3:07 into the period, perhaps riding the tide of Holt’s point blank save, Noah Charron scored his 6th goal of the season on a rebound with assists going to Max Lajeunesse and Mike Fortin.
For the next seven or so minutes, both teams had chances, and Colin Holt made a couple of fantastic saves. Then Lajeunesse was called for a trip that was too obvious to let go, and the Grizzlies had another penalty to kill. The Grizzlies did keep the Bobcats off of the board but it also meant that the chances were mounting for Oyster River and their forwards seemed to be growing more confident. It was the Bobcats who scored a goal with 1:23 to play on a shot that trickled slowly past Holt, sliding inside the far post and bounced out. The goal was ultimately waved off as no official was in the vicinity to see the puck go in before coming out. The play told a too familiar story for Grizzlie fans though, as either of two Goffstown defensemen could have raced behind the net and been the first player to the loose puck, but instead, neither one went, and Oyster River centered the puck to the slot and scored, or didn’t score, officially. I was sitting close enough to be the goal judge behind the net, if there was a goal judge in this game, and I would have lit the red lamp. A tick or two under 30 seconds later, the Bobcats did score for everyone to see. Michael Donovan scored from the slot area after yet another centering pass from, you guessed it, right behind the net. Nobody from Goffstown was back to make the play difficult for Oyster River in Gretzky’s Office. Assists on the game winning goal went to Anson Thibault and Tyler Harvey.
With roughly 41 seconds left in the game, Colin Holt left the crease for the bench as a result of a delayed penalty being called on Oyster River, their first called penalty of the game. By the time the Bobcats touched the puck to get the whistle blown, there were only 16 seconds left to play. The delayed penalty had been called on Porter McManus way back in the Oyster River offensive end when he gave a solid two-hand cross-check to the back of the shoulders of a Grizzlie player. The call ended up being a 5-minute major penalty for, hitting from behind, along with a 10-minute misconduct. The Grizzlies could not find a way to get the tying goal in the final 16 seconds, and the game ended with the Bobcats winning 2-1.
The Grizzlies return to the ice for another road game on Wednesday versus Windham (6-2), another red-hot team who has won five games in a row, outscoring their opponents 28-0 in those games. The game will be played, at the ICEnter in Salem, NH at 5:40pm.