Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH.
Saturday, January 21, 2017.
Goffstown v. Winnacunnet, 730pm.
Most athletic games are decided later in the contest than this one was. Winnacunnet came into Goffstown looking for their first win, with a first time goaltender. We here in Gtown Nation are familiar with that plight. Tonight, at Sullivan Arena on the campus of St. Anselm College, the Grizzlies were able to get 3 goals from their third line, all in under 10 minutes. Winnacunnet Warriors’ goaltender Evan Welch is a 3-sport athlete at Winnacunnet High School, playing wide receiver on the football team, and catching for the baseball team. Between the pipes, he is new to this position, having never played hockey before. Despite all that, his athleticism was evident. Welch would go on to make 25 saves in the game, which included an outright highway robbery of Mickey Bridgeman’s shot at point-blank range 8 minutes into the game. The play developed when the Warriors turned the puck over in the neutral zone.
Max Lajeunesse, who would have a big night himself, grabbed the puck with speed. As Max entered the offensive zone, Bridgeman skated hard up the right side, looking for a feed from his linemate. He got just that, a perfect pass from Lajeunesse and in one fluid motion, let a shot go. Welch slid across, and somehow got his left pad over to kick the shot out. It was a magnificent save. Just about six minutes later, that combination would get together again, when Lajeunesse would score on a feed from Bridgeman. At that time, the Grizzlies led 4-0.
Before that all unfolded, Colby Gamache scored a pair of goals, the first two of his high school career. The Grizzlies grabbed a 1-0 lead at 2:52 of the opening period when Gamache would score on a pass from Theo Milanes. A couple of shifts later, it was Gamache again from Milanes and Brett Branscum. Then, not to be left out, Milanes scored an unassisted goal for himself. After one period, Goffstown, who was happy to be home after a pair of OT losses on the road, led 4-0. The Grizzlies dominated play and held a 13-1 advantage in shots on goal.
The second period was odd. The Grizzlies would score five times, but three of the goals were shorthanded. On top of that, the play would get physical, if not dirty. There would be seven penalties called in the period, with a 5-minute major being whistled for each side. Cooler heads would ultimately prevail, or at least grow disinterested.
Goffstown came out flying in the second period and levied a 17-shot barrage at the Winnacunnet net. At 5:22 of the period, Curtis McKay would come out of the net for Goffstown after facing just 2 shots. Kyle LaSella was inserted into the game and a minute later was welcomed by a total defensive breakdown that allowed Ben Carboni and Tanner Holt to break in all alone. Carboni would score the Warrior goal with Holt getting the assist. LaSella would be perfect from there, saving all 7 of the remaining shots he faced, including some really nice saves on point-blank attempts.
As for the scoring, the Grizzlies got unassisted, shorthanded goals, from Noah Charron and Max Lajeunesse just 19 seconds apart. After Winnacunnet scored, cutting the lead to 6-1, Brett Branscum got back on the board for the home team. On a pretty play involving the whole line, Colby Gamache and Maggie Fifield assisted on Branscum’s 4th goal of the season. Defenseman Colin Burke scored his second goal of the season, shorthanded, when Sebastian Beal disrupted the Warriors’ break out, and fed a pass back to Burke. Burke stepped around a defender and let a shot go that beat Welch in net, giving the Grizzlies an 8-1 lead. Mickey Bridgeman would cap off the period with an unassisted goal himself, his 5th goal of the season.
With the lead as big as it was, the third period was running time, which is when the game clock is not stopped even when the whistle blows. Goffstown spent most of the period trying to protect their net and make a lot of passes to each other. Before the period was done, the Grizzlies would get two more goals
though. First, Sebastian Beal won an offensive zone faceoff and passed the puck back to the left point, to Jacob Noonan. Noonan, in one quick motion, made a tape-to-tape pass to Max Lajeunesse, now playing defense, on the right point. The shot from Lajeunesse was quick and true, finding the back of the net for his third goal of the game, and 6th goal of the season. Assists went to Beal and Noonan. With only a few seconds remaining, Nick Nault scored a goal from Maggie Fifield to give Goffstown the final count of 11-1. The goal was Nault’s sixth goal in the last 4 games. Goffstown finished the game with 36 shots on goal, while holding the Warriors to just 10.
Goffstown will take their 5-2 record, in NHIAA League play, on the road to James W. Campion III Rink when they play Lebanon-Stevens (5-7 overall, 4-6 in NHIAA play) on Monday evening at 6:50pm. Lebanon-Stevens is coming off of a 5-3 loss to Portsmouth-Newmarket on Saturday. But then, there is this…
A COMPLEX STORM SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO BRING WINTRY PRECIPITATION TO THE AREA MONDAY AND TUESDAY. SNOW, SLEET, AND FREEZING RAIN ARE ALL EXPECTED, WITH SNOW MORE LIKELY OVER THE FAR INTERIOR. AT THIS TIME, THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW ACCUMULATION AND LIGHT ICING…
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.