Skate 3, Tyngsboro, MA.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017.
Goffstown at Alvirne, 550pm.
Maybe a gaffe; a faux pas, as it were. See, the game sheet last night read: Home Team: Alvirne. Visiting Team: Goofstown. I am sure it was an honest mistake, but then so were the 9 goals the Grizzlies put on that same score sheet. I doubt this fact was brought to anyone’s attention prior to the game as ‘bulletin board’ material, as they say, but the result might as well have been correlated to similar motivation. Personally, I do believe in ‘bulletin board’ material, but not in the big “RAH RAH!!!” fashion. I would take something like this, personally, as a competitor, and let it sit with me like a powerful rumble, low beneath the earth’s surface, that builds into a force to be reckoned with. But that is just me.
Either way, the Goffstown Grizzlies packed their team, their gear, and their 9-5 record onto the bus, and headed to Massachusetts to play a team from Hudson, NH. Oddly, Alvirne is just 17 miles from Goffstown High School as a crow could fly. Alvirne is almost 10 miles from Skate 3, in the opposite direction, so this was kind of a road game for both teams. Anyway, Alvirne, the Broncos, entered play with a 3-12 record, but that wasn’t something to take lightly. Alvirne averages just a tick under 3 goals per game. They had just scored 7 goals against Nashua North, and they posted 5 goals against Bow, so they have the ability to put the puck in the net. By comparison, the Grizzlies averaged only 3.04 goals per game last season, so getting 3 per game is nothing to sneeze at. The big issue for the Broncos this season has been team depth, and defensive inadequacies. They allow a lot of goals, so many nights, 3 or 4 goals on the plus side, still results in a lopsided loss.
For 8 minutes and 59 seconds, there was no score. As a matter of fact, the shots were nearly even to this point. Shane Pimentel had already made a spectacular save for Alvirne when he turned away an almost certain goal on a shot by Mickey “The Wrecking Ball” Bridgeman. Bridgeman was set up perfectly on a beautiful passing play when Max “The Missile” Lajeunesse hit Tyler “The Rocket” Riendeau in full stride with a prefect pass just before Riendeau did the same, putting a pass right on Mickey’s stick. Pimentel slid over, making a sensational save, to keep the game scoreless.
Shortly thereafter, the Broncos were called for an innocent enough penalty, when they had too many skaters on the ice. The resulting power-play for the Grizzlies seemed to get things really going for the visitors. Noah Charron put the puck past Pimentel for the power-play goal, and the Grizzlies were off and running. Max Lajeunesse made the play to set up Charron, but Colin Burke had started the whole play at the left point, with a nice pass to Lajeunesse. Max took the pass, curled from the left-wing corner, up the boards, looking like he might just drop a pass back to Burke at the point. Instead, he cut off of the half-wall, with the puck, to the open space above the circles and ripped a nice shot on goal. Pimentel made that save but the rebound dropped at Charron’s feet and he made no mistake. 1-0 Grizzlies at 9:00. Exactly 3 minutes later, Lajeunesse scored on a nice pass from Mickey Bridgeman. In the last minute of the period. Lajeunesse scored again after Dylan Hyers managed to weave through a pair of defenders, and delivered a perfect pass to Max for the goal. After one period, Goofstown, er uh, Goffstown led 3-0 and had fired 16 shots at Shane Pimentel in net. The Grizzlies did allow 11 shots to get through to Curtis McKay, but “C-Mac” was up to the task, saving all 11 shots.
In the second period it became quickly apparent that the Grizzlies were not very pleased with the number of shots they had allowed thus far. They held Alvirne to 6 shots, and 4 shots, respectively, over the final two periods. Alvirne’s Doug Herling and Kyle Sintiris were on the ice a lot for the Broncos. With their speed and ability, they were a constant threat to score. Add the speed of Ian Morse and play of Justin Hudgins, and Alvirne did create a handful of break away opportunities as well.
Morse played like he was genuinely mad at someone, which brought a physical aspect to the Broncos game. Although his physicality didn’t bode well when he skated, head down, into Mt. Hyers, and fell to the ice like gravity was showing off its eternal pull.
In a 5 minute, 22 second span the Grizzlies scored four more goals and leapt to a 7-0 lead. Mickey Bridgeman scored when he refused to stop working in front of the net and pounded the puck home. Max Lajeunesse had circled the net to give Bridgeman a centering pass, to get the lone assist. Then it was a normal looking play to start, when Jacob Noonan banked a pass off of the end boards behind his own net to D-partner, “The Captain”, Nick Nault. Nault, with his head up, made a long, accurate, two-line pass, to Brett Branscum who was flying up the left wing like his hair was on fire.
Branscum made a nice little maneuver to get out wide, then he cut the angle beyond the defenseman he beat, and roared toward the net like a herd of Texas cattle on the home stretch. Just before he reached the net, Branscum roofed a wicked wrister up under the crossbar to give the Grizzlies a 5-0 lead on a gorgeous hockey play that covered the length of the ice in about 5 seconds. Next it was the all rugby line of Bridgeman-Riendeau-Siemiesz who just wouldn’t leave the offensive end of the ice without getting a goal. Bridgeman got the goal on a nice feed from Tyler Riendeau who had taken a quick touch pass from Siemiesz to start the play. Only 16 seconds later, Noah Charron (pronounced Sha-Roan in most rinks he visits) became the third Grizzlie to register a pair of goals in the game when he was set up by Griffin “I Can’t” Cook (I don’t know, maybe he can cook) and Mackenzie “Big Mike” Potvin to give Goffstown a 7-goal lead.
Alvirne would answer with a goal at 10:15 of the period on a beautiful play made by Doug Herling and Kyle Sintiris who set up Justin Hudgins for the goal. The period ended with the visitors holding a 7-1 lead on the board, and a 28-17 advantage in shots.
The third period was running time which did speed things up some. Even though Goffstown would go on to score a pair of goals, it was Alvirne that created two of the nicest plays and chances in the game. During the period, Herling and Sintiris made a couple of long passes up ice, where the pass was made on one end at full speed, and received on the other end, also at full speed, leading to clean breakaways. Curtis McKay stifled a couple of clean breakaways but Sintiris did get one goal set up by Herling, to cut the lead to 8-2. So let me get to the Grizzlies 8th goal now.
Maybe there were ghosts dancing in her head, or thoughts that led to doubt, or maybe none of these things had an effect on “Mighty” Maggie Fifield. I can speak for the fans though, when we conjured up visions of sure goals that weren’t, against the likes of Kingswood, St. Thomas, Oyster River, and Keene, every time that Ms. Fifield had the puck within shooting distance. Then with an entire section of bleachers, way too ‘into a game’ involving a 6-goal differential, the hockey gods released their hold on the yawning goal mouth. Noah Charron started the play when he passed the puck to Tyler Riendeau (who spent the entire third period trying to set up Siemiesz, Provencher, Potvin, and Fifield for goals).
Riendeau promptly dished the puck to Fifield in the slot. Fifield made no mistake on this shot, and the entire Goffstown throng erupted for her, as Pimentel looked back at the puck in the net. Maybe it wasn’t the best shot of all time, but it might have been, and the entire play was just a solid, good hockey play. Shortly after the goal, the referees stopped play momentarily to retrieve the puck that “Mighty” Maggie Fifield had slammed into the net, and delivered it to the Goffstown bench.
Perhaps fittingly, the final goal of the game came after all six Goffstown players had touched the puck, yes, all six. Curtis McKay had made a save that ultimately came out to Nick Nault in the Goffstown defensive end. Nault and Noah Charron, who played the final period on defense, played catch with the puck to relieve any Bronco pressure and moved up ice. Time was running out. I don’t know if anyone looked at the clock to create a more dramatic situation in their heads, but they should have.
As the sellout crowd raised its’ collective voice in unison, to count down the final 10 or so seconds of the game, the puck continued to make its way from one Grizzlie to another. Nault to Charron, back to Nault, nice feed to Bridgeman for a shot, rebound, Sebastian Beal in the slot, pounced on the rebound as the deafening countdown, may, or may not have, thundered down to ice level. Beal’s shot was clean. The puck passed through a defenseman’s legs and there was Ms. Potvin directly in front of the net. Mackenzie was posted outside the crease like the last outpost before Shane Pimentel in net for the Broncos. At the last conceivable second the puck found a piece of Potvin and slid along the ice, right through the most famous hole in all of hockey, the 5-hole. Beal and Bridgeman, while celebrating, went to the officials immediately yelling that “6 got the goal! Give it to 6!”
Time ran out, and the horn sounded before the officials reached the scoring booth, and no goal was ever announced over the loud-speaker, but I am here to tell you that Goffstown’s 9th goal went to Mackenzie Potvin with assists going to Sebastian Beal and Mickey Bridgeman. And if there were more assists to hand out, Nault, Charron, and McKay could have all earned one.
With another February snowstorm on the doorstep of northern New England just about to bust loose outside, in some old maze of rinks, in a little town just over the border, an otherwise forgettable Wednesday evening left a group, a team and their fans, with a night that won’t soon be forgotten.
Goffstown improved their record to 10-5 on the season, while the Broncos dropped to 3-13. Goffstown scored 9 goals, but it was M & M and their supporting cast, that provided the drama, and sent the Gtown faithful home through the snow with smiles on their faces.
Goffstown returns to action at West Side Arena in Manchester on Saturday at 5:00 pm. The Grizzlies play Merrimack, the team that ousted Goffstown from the NHIAA D-II Tournament last March.
Goffstown (10-5) @ Alvirne (3-13)
Skate 3, Tyngsboro, MA:
February 15, 2017. 5:50PM Start:
Alvirne: 0-1-1 = 2
Goffstown: 3-4-2 = 9
Alvirne: 11-6-4 = 21
Goffstown: 16-12-6 = 34
1st Goffstown at 9:00. PPG. Noah Charron from Max Lajeunesse and Colin Burke.
1st Goffstown at 12:00. Even. Max Lajeunesse from Mickey Bridgeman.
1st Goffstown at 14:27. Even. Max Lajeunesse from Dylan Hyers.
2nd Goffstown at 1:15. Even. Mickey Bridgeman from Max Lajeunesse.
2nd Goffstown at 2:58. Even. Brett Branscum from Nick Nault and Jacob Noonan.
2nd Goffstown at 6:21. Even. Mickey Bridgeman from Tyler Riendeau and Mike Siemiesz.
2nd Goffstown at 6:37. Even. Noah Charron from Griffin Cook and Mackenzie Potvin.
2nd Alvirne at 10:15. Even. Justin Hudgins from Kyle Sintiris and Doug Herling.
3rd Goffstown at 5:04. Even. Maggie Fifield from Tyler Riendeau and Noah Charron.
3rd Alvirne at 10:45. Even. Kyle Sintiris from Doug Herling.
3rd Goffstown at 14:50. Even. Mackenzie Potvin from Sebastian Beal and Mickey Bridgeman.
Alvirne Power Play: 0 for 1.
Goffstown Power Play: 1 for 3.
Alvirne: Shane Pimentel 25 of 34.
Goffstown: Curtis McKay 19 of 21.
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.