Wednesday, January 20, 2016. 540pm @ ICEnter, Salem, NH – Goffstown @ Windham.
I have to say that things didn’t look to good on paper coming into tonight’s road game for the Grizzlie Hockey team. I mean, Goffstown had just lost back-to-back games by the score of 2-1 in each. They were also headed to play the 6-2 Windham Jaguars. The Jaguars hadn’t allowed a single goal since before Christmas, and had won five straight games in that span. Then again, this is why they play the games.
As I get into the game itself, I will say that this Windham team is a good team. They appear to be well coached. They skate well as a team. They move the puck quickly, especially in the offensive end. They are small, but aggressive. They are chippy, and that fine line between aggression and chippy play (playing like there’s no puck on the ice, and just running people) really cost the Jaguars before this game was over.
First though, the Windham Jaguars jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Goffstown in the first period. There were not a lot of shots in the period, in fact only 8 of them in total (Windham 5 and Goffstown 3), but Windham made theirs count. Windham scored on their second and fourth shots of the period. First, Bryce Blanchard scored on a rebound off of, Grizzlie goalie Colin Holt. The assist went to Jack Crowley. Almost immediately, actually just 17 seconds later, Goffstown had a golden chance to tie the game. Max Lajeunesse and Sam Greenwood worked a near perfect 2-on-1 break when they exchanged a few passes coming up the ice. The passes and speed led to Greenwood coming down the left wing and letting a shot go toward Jaguar goalie, Max Daly. Greenwood’s shot sailed high, over the net, from point blank range, but the Grizzlies showed they had some get up and go. Then the Jaguars closed out the period with a goal from Domenic Bruzzese, with the assist going to Blanchard. The Grizzlies trailed 2-0, the Jaguars were flying, with Blanchard and Mike Tardif running at every Grizzlie they could, puck, or no puck.
In the second period something started to change, but not in a way you might think. The Jaguars smelled blood. They pounded the offensive zone with speed, passing, and setting each other up for good looks at the net. Right off the bat, Sam Greenwood was called for elbowing. Just what the Grizzlies needed, trailing 2-0, and just 33 seconds into the period, shorthanded. Coming to the rescue just in time, kind of, the penalty kill for Goffstown. Mike Fortin, Max Lajeunesse, Nick Nault, Sebastian Beal, and Noah Charron all stood out in the killing of the penalty. Bryce Blanchard took an interference penalty when he hit a Grizzlie player along the boards while the puck was somewhere out by the center ice faceoff dot. Goffstown got nothing going on the power play and the Jaguars even started a beautiful 2-on-1 of their own, before Mike Fortin raced back to get a stick on the puck as it was shot towards the net and deflected it harmlessly away. At one point, the Jaguars took five, yes I counted them all, shots from point blank range at Colin Holt. Holt saved all five shots before finally being able to tie up the puck for a faceoff. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Noah Charron turned nothing into something and scored a goal for the Grizzlies with 3:32 to play in the second period. With about a minute left to play, a rather scary play unfolded when the Jaguars ripped a slapshot from the point and the puck rose quickly, striking teammate, Nolan Cunningham in the side of the helmet. Cunningham was shaken but skated off under his own power; he would return. After two periods, the Grizzlies trailed 2-1 on the scoreboard while the Jaguars held a 16-8 lead in shots on goal. Holt made 11 saves on 11 shots in the period and appeared to get better with the larger workload.
The third period started with three penalties being called in the first 2:13. Two of the penalties were on Windham, and Goffstown had a brief 5-on-3 power play before Nick Nault was whistled for cross checking. Shortly thereafter, the Jaguars got one player back, but Noah Charron struck again during the 4-on-4 play. Charron scored after being set up by Dylan Hyers. Score tied 2-2. The Grizzlies had some confidence, they were getting shots and really moving their feet for the first time in a while. Skating and creating caused the Jaguars to be somewhat exposed and more penalties were a direct result. Max Lajeunesse made a quick deke and move to the corner that resulted in Mike Tardif getting called for his second straight elbowing call, as he went in elbows-high again. Later it was Bryce Blanchard getting called for an obvious trip when a Grizzlie skater beat him to open space. Goffstown would not score again, but the age-old question of “which came first” begged to be asked. Did the penalties help the Grizzlies, or did the Grizzlies getting shots and moving their feet, create the penalties? Yes, and yes, certainly some of both. The Jaguars held strong and they capitalized on another Goffstown mistake. The Grizzlies had the puck at their offensive blue line, and instead of playing the puck cleanly or getting it deep into the zone, the “too many skaters in a tight area” resulted in the puck being taken by Brandon Madigan. Madigan, and then, Nolan Cunningham, quickly got the puck to Danny Donovan essentially creating a 2-on-nothing breakaway. Holt braced for the onslaught but Donovan was able to score the game-winning goal with 3:57 left to play, on only their second shot of the period. Moments later Goffstown made a nice defensive play in their own end to get the puck to Tyler Riendeau. Riendeau started up the left wing but then threw the puck to the neutral zone, right to a Windham defenseman. At the same time, the Grizzlies opted for a line change. This resulted in a very quick scoring chance for the Jaguars. Fortunately for the Grizzlies, Colin Holt was ready and made the save on a lightning quick one-timer from the slot. Goffstown did call a timeout and tried to get Holt to the bench for the extra attacker. However, the Grizzlies iced the puck twice in the last 52 seconds and couldn’t get any kind of attack going. The Windham Jaguars held on for the 3-2 win, their sixth straight win. Goffstown held a 12-5 shot advantage in the period, thanks to the power play and showing a little bit of grit and determination to be better as a team. For the game, the Jaguars outshot Goffstown 21-20.
The Grizzlies return to home ice at Sullivan Arena on Sunday afternoon to play the reigning Division III State Champions, and the now 7-2, Belmont-Gilford team. The game is slated to start at 3:30pm.