I don’t know if this is similar or not but I am going to make a small correlation between writing and youth hockey. When I sit down at my keyboard to write, I often times do not know exactly what is going to be written once I start typing. Similarly, in my mind, I, maybe we, do not know what I am going to see when our NH Avalanche 2000 team takes to the ice.
Yesterday the Avs traveled to Bedford, Mass. for a game at The EDGE Sports Center against the East Coast Wizards. What resulted was a well played game where players played individually well, but as a unit they played together even better. The effort was excellent and once they got their legs going a few minutes into the contest, the game was most certainly on.
The Avs scored first when Tyler Whiting took a big hit to make a pass out of his own end of the ice. The pass connected with Cody Sullivan who carried the puck up ice for a shot on net. The shot bounced off of the goaltender, hit his linemate, Sebastian Beal, in the shin pads, who played his own carom and smacked the puck into the net, giving the Avs a 1-0 lead. It was a nice goal and it gave the Avs some confidence, or so it seemed. Ultimately the first period would end with the Avalanche holding a 1-0 lead. Less than a minute into the second period goaltender Spencer Burgess gave up a goal on a shot that I am certain he would save 99 times out of 100. He wasn’t happy with himself, but we will hear more from him later.
The Avs would answer in a big way during the second period. First, on the power play, Max Lajeunesse scored on a rising wrister after some beautiful passing that saw all five Avs skaters touch the puck in succession before Max scored from Beal and Whiting. Sullivan and Caiden Paradise also made clean, crisp passes prior to the two assists handed out. A couple of minutes later Sebastian Beal and Max Lajeunesse (both from Goffstown) teamed up to score a goal during a two-on-three rush up ice. Beal flipped a pass/shot towards net that hit the goaltenders’ right pad just as Max arrived at that spot. The puck hit the pad, landed on the ice, and Max slid it home in an instant, 3-1 Avs.
Just 25 seconds before Max scored his second goal of the day, teammate, Tyler Whiting, had been injured at center ice and lying on the ice writhing in pain for several minutes. Thankfully, Whiting would return in the third period but this left a short bench even shorter for half of the middle period.
Sydney Herrington, Michael Perry, Clay Sanders, and Christian Levesque all stepped up, played in different positions and/or line combinations to cover for the injury and even later when Caiden Paradise was called for a trip. The entire team battled, created chances, drew penalties, and kept their cool. Perry, Herrington, and Levesque all had scoring chances during power play opportunities.
The Wizards would pull to within one goal in the third period when they scored after a seemingly endless frantic scrum in front of Burgess. But they would not score again. I mentioned that we would hear from Burgess again. Well here it is. With 6:29 showing on the clock Burgess came up LARGE. Coming out of their own end, the Avs turned the puck over at their own blue line, and a two-on-one resulted instantly. One neat pass later, it was a breakaway. Burgess, aggressive in his angles after gaining the 3-1 lead, came out, and made a brilliant save to protect the lead and save his team’s backside. Gavin Cram was present, dressed, and ready but was not called into relief duty for this game, but I’m sure he was cheering on Spencer’s goaltending heroics especially in the third period.
The Avs earned their first win on the ice this season. They played well together and had a fight in them, as a team, that was nice to see. They didn’t let emotions run away as shown in the penalties in minutes handed out. The Wizards took 35:30 in penalty minutes to just 4:30 taken by the Avs. I’m not saying the officiating was good, consistent, or even one-sided, but the emotional maturity shown by one team over the other was proportionately equal to the minutes handed out to the two teams.
It was a nice effort, and a great ‘first win’ of the season.