JFK Coliseum, Manchester, NH. December 28, 2016.
Goffstown @ Memorial, 4pm.
On Wednesday afternoon, Manchester Memorial and Goffstown played their final games of the Monarchs Christmas Hockey Classic tournament. Friends and family gathered to watch the game while enjoying the week that routinely loses track of its’ days, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Memorial scored first. They scored quickly, within the first two minutes of the game, which honestly seemed to be a theme this week. Each of Goffstown’s games involved goals scored in the opening 90 seconds of play. As a matter of fact, Goffstown allowed a goal within 90 seconds, in all three games, while also scoring one of their own. Anyway, Eric Langley scored an unassisted goal for the Crusaders and Memorial led 1-0. Memorial would only record one other shot on goal from their offensive end for the next 14+ minutes, but they would hold the same 1-0 lead after the first period. Goffstown largely carried the play throughout the balance of the opening period. The Grizzlies, coming off of their 10 goal explosion the previous day versus Central, were still buzzing offensively. Sophomore goaltender, Matthew Scott, had a lot to do with Memorial holding onto their lead. Goffstown would pound the net with 12 shots, and held a large advantage in time of puck possession, but Scott held them off of the scoreboard.
In the second period, Goffstown would widen the advantage they held, as far as domination of play goes, but somehow they would fall further behind. Matthew Guzzetta (unassisted) and Rickie Beauparlant (assist to Guzzetta) would add goals (58 seconds apart) for Memorial, giving the Crusaders a 3-0 lead despite being outshot 18 to 5 at the time. Goffstown would get on the board when Griffin Cook would score on a rebound that was set up by Nick Nault and Noah Charron. The goal summed up a possession in the offensive zone that spanned a full minute of real-time, while the three players getting the points, along with Colin Burke and Sebastian Beal, just would not allow the puck out of the offensive zone. Goffstown trailed 3-1. Then the Grizzlies would pull closer after Nault scored a goal on an assist by Max Lajeunesse. As the teams competed, working feverishly to disrupt every aspect of each others’ game, and they did, the hitting and contact escalated. This favored Memorial immensely, as Goffstown was called for penalty after penalty. A dozen minor penalties were called on the Grizzlies, with 6 of them coming in the second period alone. Perhaps, a bit of frustration was showing through. In any event, the Crusaders found themselves on a series of 5-on-3 power plays in the second and third periods. Before the second period would end, Memorial scored a 5-on-3 goal when Eric Langley would get his second unassisted goal of the afternoon. After two periods, Goffstown trailed 4-2 on the scoreboard, while leading 23-8 in shots on goal.
In the third period Goffstown would continue to be whistled for penalties. Again, they would outshoot their opponents from Memorial in the period, 6-2. The Grizzlies would spend much of the period shorthanded, hold Memorial off of the scoreboard, outshoot their opponent, get more scoring chances, but would not score. Honestly, I thought the effort from the Grizzlies overall was quite impressive. Being shorthanded as often as they were, and still their opponent to just 10 shots on goal, was a reflection of how hard they worked. The final score showed Memorial 4, Goffstown 2. Matthew Scott would earn a hard-fought victory in net, making 27 saves on 29 shots. Kyle LaSella would take the hard luck loss, saving 6 of 10 shots. Both teams would end the Monarchs Christmas Hockey Classic tournament with a 1-2 record.
I don’t know how this will be received, but I am going to convey a perspective that was shared with me by at least a few people today. These people, whom are not close to any of the players or teams competing in the tournament. Before I do, I seek to establish a perspective of sorts. In the last 3 weeks, I have seen roughly 11 NH high school hockey teams compete in live game action. I have noticed rosters from ‘bare to begging’ all the way to ‘deep and plentiful’. There are players on several rosters than have been asked to play, just to have enough players, to field a team at all. Goalies have been hard to come by for a lot of schools in the area. If there is one thing I do know well, it would be the team concept. It’s a lot more than the old, Together Everyone Achieves More = TEAM. But let’s keep it that simple for this example. Folks mentioned to me that they didn’t notice teammates supporting one another on the ice, during the game, after stoppages or goals, especially as it related to their goaltender. It looked as if the goaltender was out there on his, or her own. Very little tapping of the pads, or face mask-to-face mask “we got your back” moments, fist pumps, or other signs that would lead unbiased observers to think that the group was truly out their together, as a team. This wasn’t just commentary regarding the Grizzlies, either. Perhaps there is more than meets my eye, or in this case, more than meets the eyes of those folks who shared with me. I hope so, and I didn’t ask anyone for their opinions on the matter.
Because really, if you don’t have “team” in a team sport, then you often times have nothing. And nothing is not much to hold onto when it’s 430 in the morning and time to get up and go to practice.
I wish the best to all of the teams going forward. I wish the best for the high school student-athletes across the state because these times should be the times of their lives. Each teammate influences these memory-molding times for others on their team, so I hope they make it count in a positive way.
As for the tournament, it was fun. I enjoy very much seeing the kids play the great game of hockey. I love to see the families, together, home for Christmas, coming out to support the teams. Then the tournament itself is a draw, where players from eras gone by, families, friends, and still others come out to watch high school hockey. I met new friends, and saw many old friends from all ages of my life, all at the rink over the last 3 days. It was a good time, for sure.
Enjoy the rest of 2016 and have a Happy New Year! And a safe one at that.
Goffstown (1-1) at Memorial (0-2)
JFK: December 28, 2016. 4:00PM Start:
1st Memorial. Eric Langley unassisted.
2nd Memorial. Matthew Guzzetta unassisted.
2nd Memorial. Rickie Beauparlant from Matthew Guzzetta.
2nd Goffstown. Griffin Cook from Nick Nault and Noah Charron.
2nd Goffstown. Nick Nault from Max Lajeunesse.
2nd Memorial. PPG (5-on-3). Eric Langley unassisted.
3rd No Scoring.
Memorial: Matthew Scott 27 of 29.
Goffstown: Kyle LaSella 6 of 10.
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. Either way, “It’s a great day for hockey” ~ the late “Badger” Bob Johnson.