Friday night the NH Avalanche 2000 team opened play in the Turkey Tournament 2014. The Avs drew a familiar opponent in the Seacoast Spartans. The game was played at the beautiful facility on the campus of The Governor’s Academy. The game started just after 9:30pm and most of us were unsure as to what we would see from the team, playing at such a late hour. I think you will see, we were pleasantly surprised.
The game opened with the Spartans winning the face off, for a second. Then Cody Sullivan stole the puck and pushed it over to Max Lajeunesse. Max skated in and scored a goal by banking a shot off of the side of the goaltender and into the net. A few minutes later, Max created a scoring chance with Sydney Herrington who let a shot fly, beat the goaltender, but saw the puck ring the post and stay out of the net. Then it was Sullivan demonstrating his skills at thievery again when he robbed a defenseman of the puck, walked in, faked forehand, and slid a nice backhand shot past the sprawled goaltender, giving the Avs a 2-0 lead. At the 4:00 mark the Avs were caught in an ill timed line change and gave up an odd man rush. Thankfully for the Avs, Spencer Burgess was there to make a key save and keep the score at 2-0. Two minutes later, one of the Spartans Elite call-downs rang a slapper off of the outside of the far post and the puck caromed innocently to the corner.
The second period saw the Spartans get a goal and cut the lead to 2-1. The Spartans clearly had the upper hand in the middle period but the stanza would end with the Avs still holding on to a 2-1 lead.
With 7:40 left in the third period an Avs defender fell down, and goaltender Spencer Burgess made a huge save on the resulting 2-on-1. Minutes later Sebastian Beal misplayed the puck into his own skates but knowing roughly where his teammate was, he spun, and threw a blind, backhand pass to the middle of the ice right onto Lajeunesse’s stick, in full stride. Max skated in alone and scored giving the Avs a 3-1 lead with just 5:34 to play. The Spartans opened the gates and started taking more chances. With 1:30 left in the game they pulled their goaltender in favor of an extra attacker. The gamble paid off as the Spartans scored with 0:48 left to make the score 3-2. Then, under heavy pressure, the Avs got the puck out of their own end when Cody Sullivan shoveled the puck out of the zone. Max Lajeunesse scooped it up and carried the puck wide and then tickled the empty net twine with just 0:00.6 left on the clock. The Avs won game one, 4-2. Mike Perry, Jon Last, Caiden Paradise, Tyler Whiting, Clay Sanders, and Christian Levesque all contributed to the victory by playing team defense, making good decisions with the puck, and constantly getting pucks deep.