Wednesday, March 2, 2016. 730pm @ Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH – Goffstown vs. Windham.
It’s Thursday morning, March 3rd, 2016, and I am not certain that I have yet caught my breath from last night’s spectacle that unfolded on a sheet of ice not too far from here. What a game! If I called it a wild affair it wouldn’t begin to do it justice. You would have needed to have been there and have seen all of it with your own eyes; the things that were, the things that were not, and the things that should have been. I will do what I can to describe, in summary, the night, the game, that was.
Let’s get right to the meat of this matter. The Goffstown Grizzlies played their last regular season game on their home ice last night. They played a very good, Windham Jaguars, team who entered the game with a record of 10-5-1, including a January 20th, 3-2 win, over the Grizzlies. In this one though, the home team prevailed, winning an absolute thriller, 2-1, in overtime!
As one might hear when listening to the echoes that carom among the walls, while wandering the cavernous spaces of the lower levels in a facility the size of Sullivan Arena, words take on a meaning, or carry a weight that measures differently as time goes on. I heard in the echoes, words that suggested the Grizzlies may have caught “lightning in a bottle” when they pulled off their upset victory at Dover a few weeks back. To me, that echo I heard, I took as somewhat of an underhanded, soft toss, dig, at the Grizzlies hockey team and their staff. Roughly three hours after the echo resonated with me, I may have suggested, aloud, that the same “lightning in a bottle” comment be recycled and used again as if it were a form of fuel that lit the Grizzlies fire last night.
I am pretty sure the Grizzlies had no knowledge of these echoed words, they just came out ready to play. In their first meeting, Goffstown fell behind 2-0 in the first period, then came back to tie the game in the 3rd period, before losing in the final minutes. Last night, the Grizzlies struck first. Noah Charron scored an even strength goal that was set up by Sam Greenwood and Colin Burke. In hindsight, the goal was obviously huge, but the period was far more crazy than an early goal by Charron giving the Grizzlies the lead.
When the first period was done, the Grizzlies still led 1-0, but there had also been 26 minutes in penalties called on the two teams. Mike Tardif of Windham, who had trouble staying in control of his elbows and out of the penalty box in the first meeting, ran into more trouble last night. Much more trouble. Tardif, on one play, was called for a cross check (which was pretty obvious, if not a roughing call), unsportsmanlike conduct, and a 10-minute misconduct penalty. He would spend an entire period in the penalty box. Windham’s bench showed equal control of their personnel and emotions by being called for their own unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, minutes later. In the end, Goffstown had a couple of 5-on-3 chances in between the three penalties they took in the period, but could not score on any of them. After one period, Goffstown had 8 shots on goal to just 3 shots for Windham.
In the second period, Windham stepped up their game. They forced the action, skated hard, moved the puck, and had the Grizzlies on the ropes. Goffstown took five minor penalties in the period, leading to almost 5 straight minutes of being down two skaters.
Before all the penalties started to pile up, Windham tied the score at 1 apiece on an even strength goal of their own. Daniel Donovan scored on a nice play set up by Chad Desautels. The period would end up with the score remaining at 1-1. Windham would get 15 shots on goal in the period, fueled largely by their multiple 5-on-3 opportunities. Although, toward the end of the period, Goffstown did get a 5-on-4 power play that led to several shots on goal, but no goals. The Grizzlies would end up with 9 shots on goal in the period after being stymied for most of the 15 minutes.
After Mr. Tardif had spent most of the second period in the penalty box, he was on the ice quite a bit in the final period. I mean, when he wasn’t back in the penalty box, for charging (a play that one official said after the game, “he should have been run from the game” on) and then an interference call that was more of a blatant boarding call. I am not sure if Tardif knew the game was played with a puck, as he had no intent in using one. Either way, neither team could beat the other’s goaltender in the final period. Goffstown had chances, several chances. The home team would get 11 shots on goal to just 4 for Windham in the period. Christian Bassi was stellar in net for Windham and Colin Holt made a couple of ridiculous saves, with a little help from the crossbar, in net for the Grizzlies. The game, which was pretty well-played despite all of the penalties, would go to overtime to be decided.
Thankfully, there were no penalties called in the overtime session. The game-winning goal was scored just 1:22 into the 8-minute extra session. Both teams pressed but neither had registered a shot on goal. Then Max Lajeunesse picked a bouncing puck off of Windham defenseman, Teddy Plandes, just outside his defensive blue line. Lajeunesse carried some speed to get just enough separation behind the defense to get a golden scoring chance. On this night, the puck bounced the Grizzlies way, and Max scored the game-winner at 6:38 of overtime with a nice move and shot, to beat Bassi in net. The home crowd, the home team, and the home goalie erupted in a loud, raucous celebration of their victory. I felt bad for Plandes who lay on the ice, pounding his fist on the ice, while the Grizzlies celebrated nearby. In his defense, the puck was bouncing, and Max just made more contact with the puck, than Teddy did.
The puck bounced toward the direction Max was headed. Momentum created as the aggressor, often times leads to the puck aligning itself with that force, and this play reinforced the unwritten hockey law.
Honestly, there were 18 minor penalties called in last night’s hockey game. There were probably that many that were not called as well. Seriously. Windham was whistled for 10 of them, Goffstown for 8 of them. Goffstown was 0-7 on the power play. Windham was 0-6 on the power play. Both teams had several minutes of 5-on-3 power play advantages. In my mind, if you threw out all of the penalties completely, this still would have been a thriller. Maybe the shots on goal would have been diminished some, but these two teams battled from start to finish. Neither force wanted to give into the other.
Looking at the standings this morning, things might have become a little more interesting with the Grizzlies win last night. One thing we know, Goffstown will play at home on Wednesday the 9th. They will be either the 8th seed, as they are this morning, or perhaps the 7th seed if Oyster River loses their final game, against Dover, tonight.
Lebanon won last night, and only needs to beat either Winnacunnet or Hollis-Brookline-Derryfield in either of their final two games to overtake Kingswood in the standings and clinch a tournament berth themselves. If Oyster River loses tonight, they will finish 10-8, which ties Spaulding who finished at 10-8. Oyster River beat Spaulding twice so, if they lose tonight, they would be the 8th seed, and Spaulding the 9th seed. Then, if Lebanon wins both of their games, and ends up with 40 points, which would tie Oyster River and Spaulding, I believe Lebanon would stay as the 10th seed because they lost their games played against Oyster River and Spaulding. That might be confusing to some, which I understand because it’s somewhat confusing to me as well.
There will be more details certainly as this week closes the schedule for all Division II teams. As for now though, we are fairly certain that Goffstown will return to the ice on Wednesday night at 6pm, the 9th of March, on the home ice of Sullivan Arena.
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.