Friday, February 26, 2016. 730pm @ Sullivan Arena, St.Anselm College, Goffstown, NH – Goffstown vs. Keene.
Last night was Senior Night at the Grizzlies Den in Sullivan Arena as the Goffstown Grizzlies home crowd said goodbye to their three seniors. No matter how big or small the hockey program is, or how storied the history is, or not, it’s always a special night when seniors and their families are honored. Last night was no different. If you think about the kids themselves and how “big” everything in their lives seems to them in these moments, you’d remember how momentous these occasions are in a timeline that is still being written.
So, before the puck was dropped, and before the bright lights brought everything into view, Colin Holt, Sam Greenwood, and Ben Roy all said goodbye to the hometown crowd and were honored with their families. It was nicely done, and as it happens, these young men will be missed after this season ends.
Making a special night a little more special, Guinness Book of World Records holder, Al St. Louis was on hand to sing the National Anthem. Mr. St. Louis, from Nashua, NH, holds the current world record for singing the most National Anthems at public events, with 325 over a 12-month period. Al told me last night that he is hoping to break his own record with 365 or more anthems once this current 12-month span ends. As always, he did a great job singing last night.
The game was played, and it went by rather quickly even though both teams would probably admit that they didn’t have their best, or fastest, skating game of the season. The first two periods were quick. No scoring. Only three penalties were called and the up and down action was constant. Keene had the better of the scoring chances, and outshot Goffstown 20 to 7 through two periods. Again, this stat is somewhat misleading as a much higher percentage of shots that Keene attempted, were on net. Goffstown did get more chances than the 7 shots showed, but the number of shots that didn’t require the opposing goaltender to be present, much less make a save, continued to be troublesome for the Grizzlies.
Also, making the scoreless line stand up, was Goffstown goaltender, Colin Holt. Keene is a good team. Their defensemen are mobile and move the puck well. The Black Birds boast two solid offensive lines who put pressure on defenses every time they are on the ice. This combination did lead to some point-blank looks at tremendous scoring chances. Holty, as he is known, straight robbed Hunter Gallant in both the second and third periods on mano a mano chances.
Finally, after almost 40 minutes of game time, the visitors from Keene scored with 5:36 left. Gaetano DeLonge scored on a set up from Griffin Kane. The Black Birds scored after hemming in Mike Fortin, Tyler Riendeau, Sebastian Beal, Ben Roy, and Brett Lassonde for quite some time. Then there was another recurring scenario that began to become more noticeable over the second half of the game, especially in the third period. Hunter Gallant and Nate Darwin, of Keene’s top line, were on the ice more and more. Goffstown, the home team, with last change rights before each faceoff, found themselves lining up three freshmen, out of their five skaters, against Keene’s top players. This finally caught up to
Goffstown when Gallant scored after a beautiful pass from Darwin at 2:54 of the third period. The goal came on Keene’s second straight shot on goal even though the shots were nearly three minutes apart. I have nothing against freshmen whatsoever. Most freshmen however, are not equipped yet, to properly compete with seasoned, skilled, offensive power houses. Keene opted to double shift these guys, and it paid off for them in match ups, keeping Goffstown in their own end, and ultimately another goal.
Goffstown did apply pressure throughout the third period, but could not get a puck behind Myles Ditkoff in net for Keene. Ditkoff would end up making 15 saves in the shutout victory. He also was also able to watch some 12-15 shots miss the net completely and not require his services, despite being a legitimate scoring chance by the Grizzlies. Hunter Gallant would score again, from center ice into the open net, on another heads up hockey play and pass from Nate Darwin deep in his own end. The goal came with 21.5 seconds left in the game, shaping the final score of 3-0 in this one. Keene finished the regular season with their win, and a final record of 12-5-1. The loss dropped Goffstown to 8-7 on the season, and into 9th place in the Division II Standings. Goffstown has three games remaining, and is battling to get into the post-season tournament.
As the Grizzlies get set to travel to up to play Lebanon this afternoon, this matchup grows more interesting. Lebanon is 6-7-1 and has won four their last five games. Lebanon also finishes with three games against three opponents that they have already beaten this season, after this afternoon’s game.
The Grizzlies travel to West Lebanon on Saturday (today) afternoon to play at James W. Campion III Rink, at 4:20 pm, versus Lebanon. The game was rescheduled after the originally scheduled game on Thursday was postponed due to one of the few bad weather days we have experienced this winter.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors, mostly mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the schools, coaches, players, or characters listed in any of these blog posts. Or, maybe they do, but you would have to ask them directly. Maybe I am good at picking up on these things, and maybe I am not. I guess you can decide. Either way, “It’s a great day for hockey” ~ the late “Badger” Bob Johnson.