Campion Ice Arena, West Lebanon, NH.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017.
Goffstown at Lebanon-Stevens, 445pm.
Maturity and growth are signs that lessons are being learned. They are signs that messages are being received. They are the hope that adjustments and development will produce desired results. They reaffirm a coaching staff’s game plan and direction given. Tuesday night, after two previous attempts to play this game that were wiped out by weather, Goffstown did travel to Lebanon to take on Lebanon-Stevens (L-S) in a game featuring two teams vying for playoff positioning. The Grizzlies came from behind, in the third period, to grab a hard-fought, road victory; their 11th win of the season. The final score read Goffstown 4, Lebanon-Stevens 3.
The history of Campion Rink says it’s a regulation sized ice surface, at 85 feet x 200 feet. Although, I would question that, as the ice surface in West Lebanon seems quite small. Either way, it’s always a tough place to play, against Lebanon-Stevens. Last night the Grizzlies played a pretty streamlined opening period. They held the Raiders to just 5 shots on goal, while scoring a goal to take a 1-0 lead. But as learning curves go, there are errors, there are mistakes, and there is also brilliance.
As both teams started the game, they were feeling out the pace, the physicality, the speed, the spacing, and just what they all had in the tank for afternoon tilt. Clearly both teams had done their share of scouting. It was obvious that every time L-S leading scorer, Nate Gariepy, touched the puck, he was not to be allowed to shoot. Just as every time Nick Nault handled the puck for the Grizzlies, the bench yelled to contain him, and “don’t let him go”. Gariepy and Nault both figure largely, into the outcome of the game, scouted, planned for, or not. Early on the Grizzlies were not sharp with the puck but were able to survive with goaltending and good fortune. Six or so minutes into the game Mickey Bridgeman had the puck on his stick with a chance to set the breakout in motion along the right-wing half wall. But the pass went to the middle of the ice and picked off by Ian Garland who got a good shot away. Thankfully for the visitors, Curtis McKay, in net, made the save, and no harm was done. Less than a minute later, Nick Nault got free (temporarily) for a rush to center ice, but he missed a wide open Theo Milanes on the right-wing who was ahead of Nault, and behind the defense approaching the blue line. Nault turned the puck over and Lebanon got a decent rush out of it, when Nate Gariepy ripped a wrist shot that missed the near post by about three inches and went harmlessly wide.
Without belaboring the point I want to point out that Nick Nault learned quickly how much attention was being given to him with the puck and never made the same mistake again. He played a solid, disciplined game, and calculated his chances. Likewise, Nate Gariepy, who had guys all over him in the opening period, found ways to get his shots and offensive chances. A lot of players could learn from Gariepy as he has a sneaky good wrist shot and he shoots off of the wrong foot a lot, which adds an element of surprise to goaltender’s timing his shot. He’s a smart player who also shoots back to the angles where he came from. Meaning that goaltenders dare not leave their post too early, or be too aggressive, because Gariepy will ‘out-wait’ a goaltender.
Back to the first period. Colin Burke was called for the only penalty of the period. He was called for holding, after the Grizzlies had turned the puck over trying to get out of their own zone, and Gariepy tried to slip by Burke outside the right-wing circle. Goffstown had an outstanding penalty kill, allowing just one shot. After the penalty ended, the Grizzlies and the ‘CBC’ line gave the visitor’s a 1-0 lead. Noah Charron got the goal after consecutive passes from Sebastian Beal and Griffin Cook at 12:56. The goal seemed to raise Goffstown’s game for the last couple minutes of the period. Tyler Riendeau worked the puck down low, as Mickey Bridgeman ran over a Raider defenseman behind the net on a clean hit and fed the puck to Max Lajeunesse for a quick shot but Jordan Hammond was there to keep the score at 1-0. That’s how the period would end.
The second period took on a life of its own. Goffstown was still loose with the puck but this time L-S wasn’t about to let them off of the hook. Mickey Bridgeman led a breakout but his pass to Tyler Riendeau at center ice was a high, hard fastball type pass that crashed into the side Riendeau’s helmet and caromed off the top of his head. While Tyler reacted to the head shot, the puck landed, in time for Ian Garland to grab the puck and go in untouched to score on McKay, tying the game at 1-1 at 1:23. The Grizzlies lined up for the subsequent faceoff at center ice, with their third line and two sophomore defensemen. Normally this group acquits themselves very well. But in competition when you lose focus even for a second, sometimes you pay dearly. Well, it took just 8 seconds for L-S to score again, and take a 2-1 lead. Gariepy scored the goal at 1:31, with the assist going to Nate Damren. After being held to just five shots in the opening period, the Raiders had opened up a 2-1 lead on their first two shots of the second period.
Goffstown kept their head, and turned up the heat immediately by skating hard and started moving the puck as a team. Griffin Cook set up Sebastian Beal, who walked out from behind the net to get a shot on goal that was turned away. The rebound came out to Noah Charron between the circles. Charron quickly, made a touch pass to Dylan Hyers at the right point. Mt. Hyers leaned into a slapshot that parted the traffic out front like Moses and the Red Sea. Hyers’ laser found the twine at 1:54. The tying goal was set up by Charron and Beal. The escalation in pace and intensity had the Raiders running around a bit. Nate Gariepy was called for a pair of tripping penalties less than 3 minutes apart. In between those penalties, Nick Nault made a clean theft of the puck as Lebanon-Stevens was trying to break out of their end. Nault stepped inside the blue line and let a wicked shot go, but the shot clanged off of the lower leg/skate area of Carter Adams, sending him to the ice in a heap of pain. After a brief stoppage, Adams limped off the ice with some help while both sides applauded the display of hockey toughness. Adams would return later in the game. Just after Gariepy’s second penalty had expired, Noah Charron had a great look at a shot, and he blasted a shot past Jordan Hammond in net for the Raiders, only to see the shot explode off of the near post, and bounce right into Hammond’s body.
Somehow the puck did not cross the line, and it eventually slid out the near side where it has originated. Goffstown’s Brett Lassonde, while manning the right point, was surprised by a puck that he thought was going to be wrapped hard around the boards, but instead was bounced towards the point, along the boards. The puck skipped on edge and bounced over Lassonde’s stick, escaping the zone. As Brett went after the puck he was called for interference at 11:55. The Grizzlies ended up killing the penalty but with the PK unit still on the ice, and Lassonde out of the box to help defend, Goffstown could not get the puck out of their end. And at 14:07, just 12 seconds after the penalty time elapsed, Nate Chickering scored to give L-S a 3-2 lead. Joey Dupree and Nate Gariepy had the assists on the go-ahead goal. After the back-to-back goals for the Raiders, Goffstown held them to just one shot on goal over a span of 10 minutes. The last 4 minutes of the period though, the Raiders got a power play and 8 shots on goal, including the goal giving them a 3-2 lead entering the final 15 minutes.
In the third period, Goffstown really took their game to a higher level, and forced the Raiders to match them. Half the period went by as Goffstown was slowly winning more battles than they were losing. And quite noticeably, the Grizzlies were moving the puck East and West in the offensive zone, creating chances, and using everyone on the ice to make plays. Then at 7:42 the ‘CBC’ line would strike again. Noah Charron and Griffin Cook made quick, accurate passes to feed Sebastian Beal for a quick, clean shot from the slot. The sequence of passes made Hammond move side to side as the puck came to Beal. It was a pretty, bing-bang-goal, if I have ever seen one. The comeback effort was realized, 3-3. However, Beal put his own agenda ahead of the team’s effort when he turned immediately after scoring the goal, and drilled L-S forward, Peter Elder, up around the shoulders and helmet area. Beal was called for a roughing penalty and the joy of tying the game quickly turned to the deflating task of killing another penalty. Fortunately for Beal, and the Grizzlies, the PK unit, thanks to a pair of huge saves by McKay, did their job.
Goffstown continued to ratchet up the pressure, shift after shift. With the third line on the ice, Brett Branscum, Theo Milanes, and Colby Gamache created a nice play to set up Gamache who made a nifty move to get a shot in close. The shot hit off of the post and the puck was loose, but Gamache was hooked by Peter Elder, which probably saved a goal, but resulted in a power play for Goffstown at 10:17. On their third power play attempt of the game, the Grizzlies finally broke through. But before the power play heroics, Mickey Bridgeman and the aforementioned Carter Adams broke out into a mini brawl/temper tantrum in the left-wing corner, along the boards. It was odd, and seemed out-of-place. Fortunately, for Bridgeman and Goffstown, both players were whistled for matching roughing penalties, which allowed the power play to continue for the Grizzlies. Once order was restored, Tyler Riendeau, who was in the right place all night, less the momentary reaction of taking a pass off of his head, won yet another offensive zone faceoff. The puck came back to Max Lajeunesse on the right side of the circle. Max moved the puck quickly across to the left point with a saucer pass that landed flat on the ice. The pass was perfect, and Noah Charron was all wound up and ready to unleash a blast. As the puck entered the striking zone, Charron unloaded a blast from the left point, and the puck was a blur as it made the net strings dance and the Goffstown faithful erupted in celebration. The power play goal at 11:52 gave the Grizzlies a 4-3 lead, on the road, with 3:08 to play. Tyler Riendeau and Max Lajeunesse assisted on the goal. The goal was Charron’s second of the game, and his fourth point of the afternoon.
Lebanon-Stevens called a timeout at 12:17 of the third period. No doubt they were setting up plays, getting a breather, and planning for the desertion of their net. Goffstown kept up their puck possession and offensive pressure which took time, and also kept the extra attacker off of the ice for the Raiders. Hammond finally left his net at 14:21 while the Raiders had the Grizzlies hemmed in their own end. As good players often do, they find a way to impact matters involving competition. Somehow, despite all the attention he had garnered, Nate Gariepy had the puck on his stick right in front of the net. Gariepy was under duress, but he had about 4 inches of room between Curtis McKay’s right skate and the post to slide a puck through. As his stick came forward with the puck in place, the pressure from the Grizzlies ‘D’ also took effect, and Gariepy’s shot was stuffed into the protective piece of McKay’s right leg pad that covers his skate. McKay’s leg didn’t move and the puck was covered for a whistle. That was really the only chance that the Raiders had to tie the game. Goffstown barraged the offensive zone throughout the final period with 17 shots, 2 goals, a post, and several near misses as they rallied from a deficit after allowing 3 goals in the second period.
Although the play was sloppy at times, the game was a good game. Neither team wanted to give an inch. Both teams out muscled, out executed, or out played each other at times in the game. After a reckless, emotionally selfish, undisciplined game on Saturday night against Merrimack, the Grizzlies held it together quite well on Tuesday afternoon. Save the Beal penalty, and maybe the Bridgeman eruption, Goffstown benefited mightily by keeping the likes of Hyers, Nault, and Charron on the ice, and out of the box. For the game, Curtis McKay turned away 20 of 23 shots he faced to earn his 8th win in goal this season. Jordan Hammond made 31 saves on 35 shots for the Raiders, in the loss. Division II’s leading point-getter, Nate Gariepy had a goal and an assist, while being fun to watch. The young man doesn’t appear to be necessarily flashy, but he moves the puck, whether skating, shooting or passing, the puck is on the move. The ‘CBC’ line played maybe their best game of the season. Noah Charron had 2 goals and 2 assists, while Beal added a goal and 2 assists, and Griffin Cook was a +3 with a pair of assists.
Goffstown improved to 11-6 in league play (12-8 overall) and maintains possession of the #4 seed currently. The Grizzlies wrap up regular season play on Saturday at 11:15am against the #3, and defending State Champions, Windham Jaguars. The game is at Sullivan Arena on the campus of St. Anselm College. Goffstown will recognize their seven seniors before the game, so if you are in the area, come out and support the Grizzlies on Saturday.
Goffstown (11-6) @ Lebanon-Stevens (7-8)
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.