Tag Archives: Ice Hockey

Grizzlies Hockey ~ It’s Quarter-Final Time!

It’s Tournament Time, and the Grizzlies have advanced to the NHIAA Division II Ice Hockey Quarter-Finals! The Grizzlies travel to West Side Arena in Manchester, NH to take on the #2 seed, Merrimack Tomahawks. The puck drops at 4pm tomorrow, Saturday, March 12th at West Side Arena. For you Grizzlies’ fans, come out and support your #7 seed, Goffstown Grizzlies.

Before I get into this brief preview, full of stats and numbers that often times don’t matter once the puck drops, I have one other thing that does matter, and I have wanted to cover this for quite some time. Recently, a video has made its way around cyberspace providing perfect segway to get this teaching moment off of my chest.

I have discussed this with my kids long before this video came around, but I encourage any parent or coach to share this with their kids or their players, early, and often if needed. This is about honor and respect. It’s about our flag, our anthem, our country. My kids will tell you that my favorite song is our National Anthem (it’s true). So, I share this video. Just click on the link and take the 4+ minutes required to watch it. Share it and make sure this generation understands what it all stands for. It drives me crazy when I see players, coaches, or anyone else who can’t stand up straight and quit being a distraction or being distracted long enough to honor our country. Again, this isn’t about views or sides, but about honor and respect; two things that this world could use a lot more of. Thanks.

The teams line up for the National Anthem. (c) 1inawesomewonder (Photo by Charron)

The teams line up for the National Anthem. (c) 1inawesomewonder (Photo by Fortin/Charron)

Now, on to tomorrow’s matchup. Back on January 6th, Merrimack beat Goffstown 2-0 at Sullivan Arena. It was the first game for both teams after the Christmas break, and a lot has happened since then. After the win on January 6th, Merrimack would lose 3 games in the next 5 days. They haven’t lost since. The Tomahawks finished the season with a 13-3-2 record, and haven’t lost since January 13th (10-0-2 in the streak).

Goffstown has a style all their own. The Grizzlies are the lowest scoring team of the 10 teams that qualified for the Tournament. Goffstown has struggled to find the net at times, both getting pucks to the net, and getting pucks into the net. But man, do they compete?!?! They just won’t go away. It’s a beautiful thing.

When the Grizzlies tangled with the Tomahawks in early January, both teams had 21 shots on goal. The Grizzlies trailed 1-0 for most of the game, right up until Merrimack scored an empty net goal with 20 seconds left in regulation. Obviously, no team is any hotter than the white-hot Tomahawks. Then again, they haven’t played a meaningful game since Feb. 25th. By tomorrow, that will be 16 days since they last played. The Grizzlies are now 6-2-1 in their last 9 outings and have started to generate some momentum themselves. Anything can happen as we all know, and tomorrow we will find out if any of these numbers mean a thing.

Grizzlies line up during pre-game. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Grizzlies line up during pre-game. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

The Grizzlies are led by seniors, Colin Holt (G), Sam Greenwood (F), and Ben Roy (F). The Goffstown juniors are, Tyler Riendeau (F), Nick Nault (D), and Dylan Hyers (D). Goffstown is loaded with freshmen and sophomores, starting with 2nd year players, Mike Fortin (F-D), Max Lajeunesse (F), Ethan Smith (G), Noah Charron (F). The freshmen are, Stephen Provencher (F), Colin Burke (D), Jake Noonan (D), Brett Lassonde (D), Alex McCarthy (F), Sebastian Beal (F), and Griffin Cook (F). The coaching staff is led by Head Coach Ben Slocum (1st year), and Assistant Coaches, John Nanoff and Shane Tufts.

Grizzlies Hockey ~ It’s Tournament Time!

The Grizzlies gone wild! Celebrating an overtime win versus Windham. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Celebrating an overtime win versus Windham. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

It’s Tournament Time! The Grizzlies host Lebanon tomorrow night (Wednesday 3/9 at 5:00pm @ Sullivan Arena) in the prelim round of the Division II Hockey Tournament. The Grizzlies earned the #7 seed and will host the #10 seed, Lebanon Raiders. The winner of Wednesday night’s game will advance to play #2 seed, Merrimack on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t too long ago, when the Goffstown Grizzlies Ice Hockey team found themselves mired in mediocrity. They were hovering at .500 with a 5-5 record, and were in the bottom half of the standings. It was the end of January and they were looking up at most of the division, with games against perennial powerhouses, Dover and Spaulding staring them in the face. Throw in a 10-day layoff, a hole in the schedule if you will, and the Grizzlies went to play at Dover on February 10th.

As it turned out, the Grizzlies beat Dover and Spaulding back-to-back and started to shape their season in a different manner. The Grizzlies would end up going 5-2-1 over their last 8 games and would catapult up the standings from as low as 12th, all the way to 7th seed, and hosting a first round tournament game.

Goffstown starters on Leap Day 2016. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Goffstown starters on Leap Day 2016. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Goffstown will play host to the Lebanon Raiders whom they tied 2-2 up at Campion Rink less than two weeks ago. The Raiders finished in the #10 spot by finishing strong, going 6-2-1 down the stretch, ending the regular season with an 8-8-2 record.

For some notes that we can compare, between these two teams, I give you the following. Both Lebanon and Goffstown played several common opponents this season. Among the common opponents, the edge goes to the Grizzlies, Goffstown was 8-7, while Lebanon was 5-8 against teams they played in common. Against teams that qualified for the tournament, again the Grizzlies had the advantage, going 3-7-1 while the Raiders were 0-7-1 against playoff contenders, the one tie being against the Grizzlies.

Both teams finished the regular season on a strong note. Combined, they were 11-4-2 down the stretch. They played each other recently which should make for an even more exciting matchup in the first round. In their meeting on Feb. 27, the Grizzlies made a long bus ride on a Saturday afternoon on the final weekend of Feb. vacation week, just hours after losing a physical battle against the Keene BlackBirds. After the first period in that game, the Grizzlies carried the play for the most part. Then again, this is why they play the games. Anything can happen out there.

The Goffstown Grizzlies are playing their final home game of the 2015-16 season on Wednesday night, and it happens to be a Tournament game. So, Grizzlies’ Nation, come out and wear your maroon, have fun, and be loud! I can tell you that after being at Sullivan Arena on Sunday for the 2016 NEPSAC (Prep Schools) Ice Hockey Championships, where nobody was a ‘home’ team; it can get really loud in the arena at St. Anselm College. So come out and support the Grizzlies Hockey team on Wednesday at 5pm.

Sam Greenwood, Ben Roy, and Colin Holt. GHS Seniors. (C) 1inawesomewonder

Sam Greenwood, Ben Roy, and Colin Holt. GHS Seniors. (C) 1inawesomewonder

The Grizzlies are led by seniors, Colin Holt (G), Sam Greenwood (F), and Ben Roy (F). The Goffstown juniors are, Tyler Riendeau (F), Nick Nault (D), and Dylan Hyers (D). Goffstown is loaded with freshmen and sophomores, starting with 2nd year players, Mike Fortin (F-D), Max Lajeunesse (F), Ethan Smith (G), Noah Charron (F). The freshmen are, Stephen Provencher (F), Colin Burke (D), Jake Noonan (D), Brett Lassonde (D), Alex McCarthy (F), Sebastian Beal (F), and Griffin Cook (F). The coaching staff is led by Head Coach Ben Slocum (1st year), and Assistant Coaches, John Nanoff and Shane Tufts.

Kearsarge November 24-30

Press Release: December 2, 2013

November 30: Kearsarge 0 @ Oyster River 4

With this past Sunday off, the Kearsarge Bantams only played one game last week. It was a road game out in Durham, played on Churchill Rink at Jackson Landing.

After I dropped my son and his equipment off outside the rink and the pavilion I figured I had some time to kill. So I drove a few feet further, down the hill towards the Oyster River. As I like to do, I looked to the sky. The late autumn sky was holding on to the last rays of daylight before giving way to a dark starlit sky. Before I returned up the hill I took note of a flock of geese headed south, honking along the way.

Back at the rink, the players from both teams were ready to play. The wind was calm, thankfully. The temperature was right around 30 degrees and the ice was prepped and ready. I noticed that in this 40-year-old rink that there was daylight showing between the ice and the bottom of the nets, but not enough space for a puck to escape. Let’s get on to the game.

Early on, both teams showed signs of offensive pressure, with Kearsarge holding a slight edge in sustained pressure and possession in the offensive end. But, similar to their opening game, the shots they manage were blocked, redirected to one side of the net or the other, or just missed the net. For all the pressure and team play, few chances required Oyster River’s goaltender to make a save. The first period would end scoreless, with Kearsarge getting the better of the chances.

In the second period, the short bench, lack of finishing on scoring chances, and the depth of Oyster River’s combination of players added from their top Bantam team started to take its toll. Half way through the period the home team finally succeeded in getting a puck behind goaltender Corey Henault. The period would end with Kearsarge hanging in there, but trailing 1-0.

The final period continued in favor of the home team. Henault made several nice stops but as the period wore on that would change. Like the geese I saw pre-game, the second half of period three turned south for the visitors. Oyster River finished with a 4-0 win despite Kearsarge playing hard right to the final whistle.

There are many benefits to being associated with youth hockey. The most telling, from my experience, is the unity of family that seems only to function at this level in hockey. Almost understood, from a brief locker room comment, was the attendance of nearly every player, multiple sets of parents, with siblings to match, at a local pizza place down the street from the rink. As the players filed into the establishment with their families, two things struck me. One, the coach thanked players and families for being there, at the game, and at the restaurant. Two, the players called out each other’s names welcoming them as they came in, like they were distinguished guests at a dinner in their honor. Then again, it is about the kids, and none of us would have been there without the youth all around us, the ones we hold so dear. Actually, there was a third thing I noticed; if you were a stranger sitting in a nearby booth, watching this parade of families enter, you would have thought for sure that this team had won whatever contest they had just come from. In truth, we all sat down, “broke bread together” (stealing a quote heard at my table), and we all won, just in the practicing of sincere fellowship.

November 25: Flames 2 @ Concord 2

Flames comeback to earn a point in GSL Standings

Sunday afternoon the Flames traveled to Concord, NH to play a Granite State Hockey League game vs. the Concord Capitals. Just two weeks ago, the Flames blew a 3rd period lead on home ice in a 3-2 loss to the Capitals, after playing an otherwise solid game. Yesterday things looked like another loss might be in store for the visiting Flames. Not so fast. The Flames bounced back and earned a point in the GSL Standings, the result of a 2-2 tie.

Let me start from the beginning. That would be the 1st period, where, despite being short-handed for 6 of the 12 minutes in the period, the Flames out shot the Capitals 5-3 and had the better of the scoring chances. The first period ended scoreless, 0-0.

The 2nd period stayed largely the same as the opening stanza. The Flames took a penalty, killed it off, got good shots, and good scoring chances. But, like we see so often in sports, when teams tempt fate by playing in a manner that defies the book of how-to, and so too, the Flames started to pay for their individual driven, penalty marred style of play. Concord scored their first goal on a nice rebound goal of an even better initial save made by Keenan Alnahas. 5:16 later, the Capitals took a 2-0 lead and there were only 14-plus minutes left in the contest. Before the 2nd period ended, the Flames were able to cut the lead from 2 to a single goal. Sean Moore scored a hard-working, lunch pail carrying type of goal that was set up by Sam Hebert and Zach Bayer. The period ended with the Flames trailing 2-1.

In the 3rd period Concord, who is already a solid team defense unit, clamped down their end and as much of the neutral zone as they good, in hopes of hanging on to their 2-1 lead for 12 more minutes. The Capital all but disappeared, and maybe would not have surfaced again, were it not for additional penalties handed to the Flames in the final two minutes of play. I’m getting ahead of myself though, lest I forget the Flames game-tying goal. Zach Bayer struck for a goal, it was set up by Jackson Puzzo and Patrick Goren, and the game was tied 2-2 with 2:29 left. The Flames took penalties with 1:47 left, and with 0:39 left, allowing Concord a brief 5-on-3 power play chance. The defense held, as did, Anders Lindberg in goal, and the Flames came away with a point in the standings, earning a 2-2 tie. For the game, the Flames out shot their opponent 19-12 and really carried the offensive pressure. I did hear the coaching staff vocalizing a recurring thought through the game, and that was, “Pass the puck!!!!” I am sure that thought may come up in practice this week.

On tap:
Saturday, December 1st, 7:20pm: @ Ristuccia Arena vs. Shamrocks (Wilmington, MA)
Sunday, December 2nd, 11:30am: @ Notre Dame Arena vs. Berlin (Berlin, NH)

Another season ends

Another season ends. Over the weekend my eleven year old sons’ hockey season ended. Hockey started with off ice training back on August 1st, 2011. That’s 222 days of hockey season according to my calculations. That’s almost 61% of a complete year devoted to one team, to one sport, to ones self being the best they can be for themselves and for their team. That’s somewhere between 110 – 150 trips to a rink somewhere, I just didn’t feel like going back to count all the workouts, practices, and games.

As I sat down to write this, I started with a title, which I usually save for the end or sometime throughout the journey my mind takes me through. As soon as I wrote the words, my mind, which connects dots that aren’t visible at times, thought of the ELO song, Another Heart BreaksFitting in a way, I guess. Maybe my mind is on to something. So I have listened to that song a couple of times now while writing. If you like ELO at all, the album, Time, on which the song is found, is pretty good.

Anyways the hockey season ended for my sons Pee Wee team. They played 56 games during the season, winning 27, losing 27, and tying 2. I am proud of his effort. He worked hard to improve. He observed often and learned to be a better teammate on the ice. He did improve. He led the team in assists. He played team hockey, and he is better for it. But, this post isn’t about my son, it’s about a season, about a team.

I am thankful to my wife who, at the sacrifice of her own viewing pleasure, spent many cold hours in rinks all over the northeast, watching our twins while I kept stats, comments, and scores of games all season. See, I had the pleasure of following this team closely all season. I enjoy statistics and measurements, but I also like what my eyes, heart, and mind tell me outside of numbers. I really was the fortunate one. I tracked this team, wrote the articles recapping the games, tournaments, month summaries, and input the scores and scheduled games on the website. I had help from a friend here in town who posted many pieces and updates to the town website he runs. Those who know me, know that I have been known to utter the words, “It’s all about the kids”, on more occasions than I could count. That’s the reason I spent the hours this season with my spreadsheet, my little note pad, taking home the game sheets, and plugging everything in to any computer I could log in to. The kids.

I remember as a boy certain folks who would ask me at church on Sundays, how my baseball season was going, or how the State Tournament went, or where did you play this week, etc. I know that unless you knew my family, were at the games, or knew someone else on the teams I played for, then nobody knew that we were even playing anything. Nobody knew we were playing, much less winning, succeeding, growing as teens and teammates. Don’t get me wrong, I had some awesome coaches and devoted parents around me too, but it clearly wasn’t all about the kids as much as it is today. I say that with caution because there’s a lot of people who don’t get it even today. They run around with their heads’ cut off as if their life depended on it, almost as if their son or daughter is an after thought. Kids still need time and space to be kids. I am waiting for the day when an adult no longer says they wish they could be a kid again. They’ll grow up on their own time, just like you and I did.

So, this season was long, it was hectic at times, maybe even grueling here and there. But I would do it again. I love hockey. I love kids who play hockey. I enjoy the family camaraderie that materializes over the hours spent huddled together on a bench, rink-side in sub-forty degree temperatures. The odd ice times, travel schedules, and time it takes to gear up and gear down to play this sport, is all part of it. There are more sleep-overs, come play at my house times, and team lunches than there is in other sports. It’s also pretty cool that most hockey programs pull from more than one town, meaning that these players will play against each other in high school, and so on. It’s another plus for hockey and for the individuals it produces when the hockey gods whisper softly in the players ear letting them know their time playing hockey competitively is done.

Like any season there were ups and downs. There were injuries. There were tough losses. There were exhilarating wins. There was team bonding. There were hours and hours spent in vehicles coming to and from rinks. I know if I were to assess my own performance in the vehicle demeanor with my son, I would have maybe snagged a C for a grade. Kind of like when I was back in school. He would probably be harder on me. Which is the same issue I faced, being too hard at times, I am sure. I am largely in favor of kids being kids and I know I will be better at it next year than I was this year. Like him, I want to improve.

Our team was a mixed team this year, so we had players who were second year Pee Wees playing with first year Pee Wees. Thankfully we were able to get enough kids to have a team by combining the Pee Wees for this team. This also means that as tryouts for the 2012-2013 teams continue as we speak, half our team from this season will be moving up to the Bantam level next season. So, next season we will be spending these many hours with some different parents, and the kids playing alongside some different kids. Good for hockey.

A word (or several) about tryouts. Hockey does tryouts at the end of the season. The teams are selected and then 5 months later you show up and play with your team you made in March. It’s not that simple, thanks to the adults involved, but hopefully you get the idea. Anyways, in my sons particular case this past week, he had tryouts for the next season a couple of days before playing in this season’s State Tournament for his tier. Our team lost in the tournament so the season ended on Saturday afternoon. Tryouts for next season concluded today. Given the timeliness, or lack there of, regarding tryouts as it relates to the current season, I can see how it can be hard to distance one from the other.

I have coached some basketball over the years, and coached a lot of baseball with various age groups from age 9 thru 19. I have evaluated players at tryouts several times. The point is this. The coach in me is happy to know the things I know about the existing player in the existing season, or even previous seasons. I like knowing the makeup of the player, the compete level, the player they are when the game is on the line, the work ethic, the temperament, their athleticism, etc. It’s a plus to know these things. But, if I am coaching this team and looking at the players trying out, I am not looking at the sheet of ice through my rear-view mirror, I am looking forward to the team I see next season. I am looking, not at the player who scored a key goal this past November, but at what that player can give the team next March in the tournament, and the distance required to bridge the gap from now until the moment we need that player to be the best player possible in that position. See, to me, it’s fresh. It’s new. A clean slate. Everything to this point matters; only as it relates to what I can put together in the vision I see looking forward, made up of the players in front of me now. That’s part of the joy in it. It’s not about power or control, agenda or familiarity. It’s about what’s next, it’s about how do we best equip ourselves to get there, and who is coming with us. I would ask that my son be evaluated not by whom he knows, whom he is friends with, how good or bad a season he had, but how does he look today? How does he project? I tried out for teams I didn’t make. I worked harder because I wanted to show myself, and certainly that coach, that I was good enough. I’d show him. One of my older sons was cut from baseball teams a couple of times in Little League and from a school team. I remember talking to him on those days and hearing the resolve in his young voice to work at being better and proving those coaches wrong. Well he did get better. He pitched, and won the State Championship Legion Baseball game in 2010. He had a tremendous career on the field, and he’s an even better person. I’d like to think that some of those obstacles he overcame helped him be the young man he is today, as much as his effort to improve on the field helped him to an outstanding run as a player in high school, in Legion ball, and on several all-star teams.

And I am back. Okay, so this season was long. It was wonderful. It was downright frustrating. It was so much fun at times that joy was hard to contain. It was gut wrenching to watch my child along side his teammates as they poured their hearts into their games and fell short. At least on the scoreboard they did. Sometimes you can look in the mirror and know you left it all on the field of competition, but still came up short in the final score. That’s okay.

Our season really took off in January when the team played 17 games in 31 days. It was crazy. It was so much fun. The players responded. They played better the more they played. Then it was into February, a slower paced schedule, but the importance of wins and losses taking a new meaning as teams jostle for positions in the standings. When all was said and done, we made the tournament. We didn’t win it, but we made it, and we played well in the tournament. Sometimes there are just better teams playing better than your best on any given day. So as I sat on my bleacher seat Saturday afternoon, after the teams had left the ice, and many of the parents had started for the exit, I thought, just like that, another season ends.

I personally would like to thank the coaches who not only have to get their kids to games and practices, but have to be with the team before, during, and after each event. We get to sip our hot coffee, while laughing with friends, as we watch the games and enjoy the strength that exists among a group of people who want and hope for the same things. The coaches are on the bench dealing with the game, the players, the lineups, the ebb and flow of each minute, and the differences that exist from one player to the next. Thank you.

I would also like to thank the parents from our team this season. So many were willing and able to help us and others. Rides to and from rinks were always available. An extra set of eyes on a wandering twin were much appreciated. The commitment to get our kids to where they needed to be in order to be the teammate they aspire to be, is not one to be overlooked. Thank you to our devoted team mom who did an outstanding job keeping us all on track with information and changing schedules. Thanks also to our team mom for getting to the rinks so early and grabbing the best parking spots. Truthfully, it was comforting to know that the long trip to some tucked away rink paid off when I pulled in and saw her vehicle there.

Finally, as I usually do in other season pieces I have written in the past, thank you to the players. Thank you for smiling no matter the result of the game. Thank you for the boundless energy that somehow intensifies when a day of hockey is done and your free to enjoy your teammates and friends. Thank you for asking every time if a friend can come over, or if you can go home with a friend, or if we can all go eat together, even if the answer was often “no”. You wouldn’t be a kid otherwise. Thank you for playing as hard as you could on any given day. I know there’s school, there are projects, there’s family, there’s only 24 hours today, there are body parts that hurt, or sickness you are fighting, there are times you feel like nothing is going your way, there are times you might even be intimidated, and so the list goes. All things considered, thank you for showing up to play. Thank you for celebrating your successes and for feeling your losses. Thank you for being kids playing a team sport. Because even though you might hear the voice you wish you could avoid for at least that hour you’re on the ice, you still play, you still compete. Meanwhile, sitting on a cold bleacher seat rink-side there’s us parents who in some corner of our minds wish we were in your position. Thank you for your commitment to play this sport, as a team, for such a long season. It’s our pleasure to be there in the moments we are fortunate enough to see our youngsters become young men and women.

As I fold my last game sheet so I can return it to our team mom, I close my little note pad, and don’t care what happens to the pen I have in my possession, another season ends.