Wednesday, March 9, 2016. 500pm @ Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH – #7 Goffstown vs. #10 Lebanon.
Earlier this evening, the Goffstown Grizzlies stunned the visiting Lebanon Raiders with a 2-1 overtime win in the first round of the NHIAA Division II Boys Ice Hockey Tournament. At 1:03 of the overtime period, Sam Greenwood, Senior, Co-Captain of the Grizzlies, scored a power play goal to send Goffstown to the quarterfinals against #2 Merrimack on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the overtime winner scored by Greenwood, there was one name on my tongue, as it related to the one who stole the show; that name is Colin Holt. Senior, Goaltender, Colin Holt, he wears uniform #1 and tonight, he was the #1 defender. Were it not for Holt’s heroics in net, the Grizzlies could have been down 4 or 5 goals after the first period alone. I am not kidding when I tell you that he saved the Grizzlies’ bacon numerous times, including a couple of saves he made with his mask. In my opinion, a tremendous, tournament changing, type of performance.
Okay, I know that hockey is a team game, and, yes it took the whole team, to get a win on Wednesday night for the hometown Grizzlies. Much like a quarterback in football, or a pitcher in baseball, the goaltender in hockey gets so much attention for their performance in their position. Tonight, Holt was awesome, and I am summarizing some of that here. In the first period, Brett Lassonde (D) made a nice play to keep the puck alive along his offensive blue line, only to lose an edge, fall over, and lead to a total breakaway for Lebanon’s Nate Damren, but Holt made the save. Then it was Nick Nault (D) who was beaten to a loose puck, as the Raiders’ Nate Chickering blew past him to get a breakaway himself. Again, Holt made the save, and then a rebound save too. When Mike Fortin (D at the time) took a tough angle against Lebanon’s best player, Nate Gariepy, the Raider forward blew in all alone and was robbed by Mr. Holt.
Now I am not picking on anyone here, as these things are all a part of the game. Not only that, but, ‘team’ is, among other things, about picking up your teammate, and having his back when one falters, or when bounces go the other way. Tonight, Holty picked everyone up. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the things most endearing about this team, they battle for one another. They compete every time they take the ice, and they find themselves with chances to win in nearly every game. Ben Roy had a chance to score down low. Max Lajeunesse had a breakaway of sorts, with a defender draped all over him, but could not find favor with anyone on the ice. Sebastian Beal had pokes at loose pucks around the crease, for not. Chad Fazio kicked out a couple of wrist shots by Sam Greenwood only to have the rebounds narrowly cleared or secured by defensive units for the Raiders. The Grizzlies had chances too, just not as blatantly visible as many of Lebanon’s chances.
I am pretty sure that most, if not all, of the Grizzlies would recognize that tonight’s game was not their best effort. I would also mention that it had a lot to do with Lebanon’s game plan and execution. Whether you liked the officiating in this game or not, there are two things that stuck out to me as it related to the visiting Raiders.
First, they played hard, with a sense of urgency, and won a lot more ‘puck battles’ than did the Grizzlies. Second, they finished their checks; they made it tough to play against them. Lebanon’s gameplan and style is similar to that of Oyster River’s (who beat Spaulding, 2-1 in OT, in the other prelim game tonight) and they execute it well.
Despite being outplayed by quite a large margin in the first period, the Grizzlies battled. Nick Nault retrieved a loose puck from his own defensive end and meandered his way up the ice only to bury a nice wrist shot, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead with 4:19 to play in the first period. The goal was unassisted. Each of the first two periods would end with the Raiders leading in shots on goal by a 13-7 margin, and trailing 1-0 on the scoreboard.
Then the third period started, and Sam Greenwood decided to put on a minor hitting spree, which did seem to get the Grizzlies going. Then, right after getting beat to a puck by Nate Chickering, Goffstown’s Nick Nault was called for a 5-minute major boarding penalty.
The Grizzlies led 1-0 with 14:32 to play, at the time. The Grizzlies went through some tense moments trying to get the puck out of their own end while shorthanded. Then, after killing off almost the entire major penalty, the Raiders tied the score with 23 seconds remaining on Nault’s infraction. Nate Gariepy, who averaged 2 points per game in the regular season, scored on the power play. The goal was assisted by Cal Garland and Nate Chickering. There would be a pair of matching penalties to each side, called in the next 5-6 minutes of play. Then Lebanon would finally get called for their first penalty of the game, that wasn’t matched by Goffstown. The penalty was called on Nate Damren, who, judging by his language and demeanor in the penalty box, did not agree that he had committed a penalty.
Fortunately for him, there was no NHIAA official in his penalty box or he may have been serving more than two minutes. The Grizzlies dominated on the power play but could not get a puck past Chad Fazio who made several brilliant saves in net for Lebanon. The period, and regulation time would end in a 1-1 tie. The Raiders led in the shot column by a 35-23 margin for the first 45 minutes.
Game one of the NHIAA Division II Boys Ice Hockey Tournament was headed to overtime. In overtime, Mr. Damren was in the spotlight again. And again, it was for another slashing call. This one took place at center ice, and was so obvious that everyone in the arena knew the penalty was coming. The penalty was called with 14:32 to play in the overtime, which was also the time of Nault’s major penalty in the third period, 14:32. It only took 35 seconds on the power play for Dylan Hyers and Noah Charron to get the puck to Sam Greenwood, who then closed quickly, from right to left. and ripped a wrist shot by Fazio in net. Fazio, to his credit, didn’t see the shot as the Grizzlies had heavy traffic in front of the net. The shot heard around the arena, ended Lebanon’s season right then and there. The goal was celebrated briefly by the Grizzlies before they had to line up and shake hands with the Lebanon team.
In my humble opinion, Goffstown was outplayed by Lebanon in several areas tonight. To the credit of the Grizzlies, as they always seem to do, they competed, they battled, and they found themselves with a chance to win the game. For the second straight Wednesday night, they found themselves celebrating an overtime winning goal on their home ice. Tonight was the last home game for the Grizzlies. Saturday at 4pm they will travel to West Side Arena to play the high scoring Merrimack Tomahawks in the quarterfinal round of the D-II Tournament. And it will likely be that, Greenwood, Holt, Roy, Tyler Riendeau, Nault, Hyers, Noah Charron, Max Lajeunesse, Fortin, Beal, Stephen Provencher, Alex McCarthy, Griffin Cook, Colin Burke, Jake Noonan, Lassonde, and Ethan Smith all will battle, compete, and give themselves a chance to upset the #2 seed.
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.