Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH.
January 7, 2017.
Goffstown v. Nashua North – Souhegan, 410pm.
Charity of Choice Hockey Game – Veterans Count
Winter Storm Helena tried to mess with a hockey game for a great cause. While I know that some people stayed away and others got caught in traffic nightmares on the roads yesterday, the atmosphere inside Sullivan Arena was warm and wonderful as the Grizzlies improved to 4-0 in league play. The folks from Veterans Count did a fantastic job getting things together for game day. I must say that the Goffstown Hockey community also did a fantastic job setting up, supporting, and promoting the event.
Before I get to the game, I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t say a piece on the cause. I never served my country, but I learned from my parents, that to serve, is rewarding in ways that are immeasurable. Our veterans, they served our country. They signed up to serve. And though they faced situations and scenarios nobody could have prepared them for, they didn’t try; they did. Then, to serve, to honor a commitment that was greater than most, wouldn’t we all be better for serving, leaving this world better for our kids. I am thankful for our veterans, and I was a proud man listening and watching as we saluted our veterans prior to the game. To all of you, I say, Thank you.
World record holder, Al St. Louis, honored our country with another wonderful rendition of our National Anthem. Then it was time to play some hockey.
The hockey game started sometime after 4:10pm, a little later than the scheduled 4pm, due to weather delays, a uniform glitch, and the pre-game ceremony. But that did not slow the Grizzlies team down, even a little bit. Goffstown came out and dominated the opening 15 minutes of play. Nashua North-Souhegan (NNS) didn’t get a single shot on netminder, Curtis McKay until there was less 90 seconds left in the period. NNS would end the period with just two shots on goal, and one of those came from center ice. For the Grizzlies, they would get 9 shots on goal, but would enjoy a large margin in time of puck possession and scoring chances.
Colin Burke started the scoring with his first career goal at 3:58 of the opening period. The goal was unassisted, as Burke rifled a nice shot past Robbie Morel in net for NNS. It wasn’t too long before Mickey Bridgeman and Max Lajeunesse teamed up give Goffstown a 2-0 lead. Bridgeman would get the goal, his 4th of the season, and Lajeunesse the assist, his team-leading 7th of the season. Later in the period, Dylan Hyers who may, or may not, have been slightly aggravated after serving an elbowing penalty, was set up with a pass by Colby Gamache. Hyers took the pass and glided to the middle of the offensive zone before pounding a back-scratcher of a slapshot towards the net. Theo Milanes, who had already deflected a shot or two in the period, would get his stick on the vapor trail that was Hyers’ shot, and get his first career goal to give Goffstown a 3-0 lead at 9:47 of the opening period. Assists were given to Hyers (3rd) and Gamache (1st) on the play. The period would end with Goffstown holding a healthy 3-0 lead.
As often happens in sports, one moment may not even slightly resemble the next moment. That’s kind of how the second period went. Clearly, the Saber Titans received a message at the intermission, and spent the next 15 minutes executing on that direction. Goffstown did get a flurry of shots on goal at the beginning and the end of the period to end with 10 shots on the period. The scoring chances, sustained pressure; and even the quality of shots that Goffstown would create, were all vastly different from the opening period. The effort looked largely disjointed. That’s where credit has to
go to the opponent. NNS came out skating hard, hitting more, being generally disruptive, and generating chances to score. Finally, at 10:28 of the 2nd period, NNS scored to cut the Goffstown lead to 3-1. Matty Eskensas would get the goal with assists going to Brendan Martin and Jeremiah Latham. The second period had no penalties called, just the one goal, and saw the visitors raise their game. I must also point out that goaltender Curtis McKay did a stellar job of keeping the score at 3-1. Both teams would get 10 shots on goal in the period.
Among the positives that the Goffstown Grizzlies hockey team and entire program embodied on Saturday afternoon, recognizing veterans, persevering through a snowstorm, and so on; they also made an adjustment to get the outcome they desired. IF NNS got the message in the first intermission, then the Grizzlies got their message in the second intermission. Captain Nick Nault and the rest of the team came out with something to prove in the third period.
And prove it, they did. Nault scored his 5th goal of the season just 0:32 into the third period, to give Goffstown a 4-1 lead. I don’t think I was alone in breathing a little bit easier after that goal to open the period. Then, on the power play, to cap off some tremendous puck movement, Nault scored his 6th goal, second of the period, on a quick passes from Noah Charron (5th) and Griffin Cook (6th). Goffstown led 5-1. Then, with less than two minutes to play, and the Grizzlies still skating with a purpose, Brett Branscum scored his 3rd goal of the season, with the assist going to Nick Nault (5th). Nault led by example with three points in the period, but the legs were the difference. Goffstown skated hard in the final period, and the results reflected it. Goffstown won 6-1. McKay saved 15 of 16 shots, and the Grizzlies showed maturity and character by rebounding from a drop in their level of play.
As for the Charity of Choice Hockey game, what a day! The game was great. The crowd was solid. The support for our veterans was real. And before the game was over I heard the announcement that more than $2300 had been raised for Veterans Count. The Goffstown Hockey program will present a check at Veterans Count’s upcoming telethon. That folks is the story, because 10 years from now when this game will likely be forgotten, the money raised to help our veterans might change or improve a life for each of the next 10 years.
The Grizzlies return to action on Saturday, January 14th, when they travel to Holt Rink in Dover to play the Green Wave at 2:00pm.
Goffstown (3-0) v Nashua (1-2)
Sullivan Arena, St. A’s: January 07, 2017. 4:10PM Start:
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.