Wednesday, February 10, 2016. 645pm @ Dover Ice Arena, Dover, NH – Goffstown @ Dover.
This afternoon, it hit me. Not the thought that the Goffstown Hockey Team was finally hitting the ice for a game after a 10-day layoff, but the fact that I would be in Dover again. See, in my feeble mind I attach events, emotions, and memories to surroundings, to songs, to the places where I felt the strongest of feelings. So, without dragging you all through the personal reasons I have, I share, quickly, this. On November 6th, 2015, the last time I was in Dover, for one of Sebastian’s games. I sat in the parking lot before the game, and wrote most of Sadder-Day in a tribute to a dear friend I lost that very week. Feel free to check it out if you would like. That’s the end of my plug, and the reason why this afternoon took on a different meaning once tonight’s destination registered with me. Thank you.
Goffstown hadn’t played a game since playing a very good, entertaining game against the Bow Falcons back on January 30th. Tonight they entered play with a 5-5 record (10th in DII) on the season. The Grizzlies traveled to Dover to play one of the top teams in Division II, the Dover Green Wave, who came in at 9-2-1 (3rd in DII) on the season. If there was a silver lining in Dover’s record from a visitors standpoint, the Green Wave were just 2-2-1 in their last five games.
To the game we go. Honestly, I told myself in the very first minute of the game, that unless something went horribly wrong, Goffstown should be in this game until the end. It was apparent early that Goffstown came to play. It took more than 4 minutes for Dover to register a shot on Goffstown’s goalie, Colin Holt. Then again, after their first shot or two, Dover did draw a penalty and went on the power play. It took just 30 seconds for the Green Wave to make the Grizzlies pay for the minor penalty. On a beautiful power play possession, capped by consecutive perfect passes, Eric DeGregorio scored into the empty side of the net. Cole Shelgren made a nice pass from his defensive point to Griffin Guerra down low. Guerra, with his head up, slid the puck across the front of the crease to a wide open DeGregorio. Dover led 1-0 with 10:00 to play in the opening period. For the rest of the period, Goffstown went 0-for-2 on their own power plays, and Dover failed to score on another power play opportunity they earned. Then with just over a minute to play in the period, just one second after Goffstown’s power play expired, the Grizzlies tied the game. Sebastian Beal (1) banged home his first career varsity goal on the rebound after being set up by Tyler Riendeau (8) and Ben Roy (5). Game tied 1-1. The first period ended in a tie, with Goffstown mustering 10 shots on goal while Dover had 11. Towards the end of the period though, something started to show up; the Grizzlies were moving their feet, and getting to the areas where the puck battles are won and lost, before Dover was.
In the second period, Goffstown picked up where they left off. They moved the puck quickly, and they kept skating. The Grizzlies power play may not be as strong as it could be, but they got plenty of practice in the middle stanza. Dover took five, yes five, consecutive minor penalties in the period, and they only overlapped for 15 seconds; meaning, the Grizzlies had 5 power plays in the period. Goffstown would go 1-for-5 on the power play in the period. Honestly, after talking with several Dover parents on this, it would be tough to argue the apparent one-sidedness in the calls. As most of us hockey fans know, the team that is moving their feet generally gets the better of the calls, and tonight it was Goffstown that was moving their feet, leaving Dover to chase the puck. The Green Wave were also guilty of taking a couple of penalties in retaliation to being pressed. These were just too obvious not to call. Finally, after all of the penalties, the Grizzlies scored with 2:29 to play in the period, on the power play. A power play earned when Goffstown’s Noah Charron didn’t respond to a player in his face, and Dover did retaliate, cross-checking Charron to the ice. Sebastian Beal (7) would make a great play along the boards to strip a Dover player cleanly of the puck and make a pass to Ben Roy (6) who shot on net and Mike Fortin (2) was there to put the puck into the net, giving the Grizzlies a lead, 2-1. Goffstown would carry a 2-1 lead to the locker room. The visitors would register 15 shots on goal in the period while allowing just 6 shots. Colin Holt did make one incredible save on a shorthanded bid by Dover when he batted a loose puck out of mid-air with his blocker while the Dover faithful were all ready to erupt for what they thought would be a sure goal.
In the third period, two major things happened, and one of them you could have guessed. Dover came out with a 9-2-1 record on the line in a home game, and they turned up the pressure by a lot. The other thing that happened was that the officials swallowed their whistles, and nothing was called in the entire period. Maybe they had just had enough of the penalties (9 of them) and how much time it took to play two periods. I don’t know, but the Grizzlies certainly benefitted from the lack of calls in the opening half of the period. Either way, the Green Wave dominated the puck possession game. For what it was worth though, much of their possession was spent slinging the puck around the boards or chipping the puck deeper into the zone after keeping it in at the point. After all was said and done they would only get 8 shots on goal in the period. Finally, after another failed clearing attempt by the hemmed in Grizzlies, Eric DeGregorio made them pay. With 3:31 to play he skated from his left to his right, down low, and slid a nice backhand shot right through the five hole on Holt for the tying goal. For a few seconds, my heart skipped a couple of beats while I conferred with myself. I said something like, Goffstown has played too well tonight to, NOT come out of Dover with a victory. Then after not generating much of anything in the period, the Grizzlies made my little conversation with myself stand up. Sam Greenwood (5) scored the game winner with 1:54 to play. Assists went to Mike Fortin (5) and Griffin Cook (2). Goffstown would hold on for the upset road victory even though Dover pulled their goaltender for the last 1:10 of the game. Nick Martinen played well in net for Dover with 25 saves on 28 Goffstown shots. Colin Holt rebounded from a 4-goal game versus Bow with a stellar performance, saving 23 of 25 shots from the Dover Green Wave.
This was a huge win for the Grizzlies. On the road, against the #3 team in the Division II rankings. The win pushed Goffstown back up over the .500 mark at 6-5. The Grizzlies were missing Max Lajeunesse and Alex McCarthy for tonight’s contest, both being sick. I have to say that the boys came to play, and they were pretty darn happy with their efforts and the results from playing Grizzlie hockey for 45 minutes. Stephen Provencher and Ethan Smith were there, and part of the team achievement. Colin Burke, Dylan Hyers, Nick Nault, Brett Lassonde, and Jake Noonan, all contributed to this Grizzlies’ team victory. It took all of them, and all of them were ready. Now, I suppose the best way to make tonight all the more impressive, would be to go out and beat Spaulding High School on Saturday afternoon.
Goffstown plays again on Saturday, February 13th, when they play host to Spaulding High School. The game will be played in Sullivan Arena on the campus of St. Anselm College in Goffstown, NH at 4:00pm. Won’t you come out and join us in enjoying the wonderful sport of high school hockey, and support the Goffstown Grizzlies? See you at the rink.