Saturday, March 12, 2016. 400pm @ West Side Arena, Manchester, NH – #7 Goffstown vs. #2 Merrimack. (Go ahead and click on the pictures, they open in their own page)
Well, where do I begin without letting the end get in the way. The Goffstown Grizzlies showed up with a whole bunch of their fans at West Side Arena this afternoon. I know that I, for one, hoped for the upset, the chance for the #7 seed to pounce, and knock off the #2 seed. In short, Merrimack was prepared, they were sharp, and they were better. Right from go. Their intensity waned not. After all was said and done, the Merrimack Tomahawks advanced to the Semi-Finals with an 8-5 victory over the upset-minded Goffstown Grizzlies.
Merrimack’s win today extends their streak to 13 consecutive games without a loss. They will move on and play in the Semi-Finals. The Tomahawks have a good team, and they should be good again next year. They did get 5 goals and 3 assists from their senior players today, but they have a strong junior class as well as a sophomore goaltender.
The Grizzlies, the school, and the fans, all saw Colin Holt, Sam Greenwood, and Ben Roy play their last game in a Grizzlies’ hockey uniform today. I have only known these kids for a few months, and it pains me still, to write that last sentence. In true Goffstown fashion, with no quit in their vocabulary, these guys led a charge that took a 6-2 deficit and cut it to 7-5 with 1:46 to play. But today, the better team had too many answers, and that was as close as Goffstown could get in the final period.
Merrimack senior, Ryan Downie scored 3 goals and added an assist. He scored an empty net goal with 0:43 seconds left and capped the Goffstown comeback bid. The Tomahawks got 4 assists from Remy Tupper (Jr), and a goal from his brother Aaron Tupper (Sr). Owen O’Brien (Jr) had a pair of goals while John Tiano (Jr) had a goal and an assist. Kyle Feeney (Sr) added a goal and 2 assists of his own. Goaltender, Greg Amato (So), looked shaky at times but ended up saving 20 of 25 shots in the win for Merrimack.
Goffstown, on the other hand, got 2 goals and 3 assists from sophomores and freshmen in this afternoon’s tilt. Sam Greenwood (Sr) had a goal and an assist in his final game for GHS.
Colin Holt, the workhorse, in net would save 30 of 37 shots he faced today, and finished a stellar final season for the Grizzlies. Holt was 11-8-1 in goal, saving more than 90.3% of the shots he faced during the regular season and tournament play. Noah Charron (So) registered 2 goals and an assist, while Tyler Riendeau (Jr) scored a pair of goals for the Grizzlies. Nick Nault (Jr) had a pair of assists with helpers also coming from Dylan Hyers (Jr), Mike Fortin (So), and Sebastian Beal (Fr).
The ice was hard and fast. Merrimack was fast, and hard to play against. Goffstown was gritty, and never let up. The officials were atrocious, at least one of them, and I think both teams would agree. Blatant penalties committed by both teams were not whistled right from the start. Offsides and icings were merely a suggestion, not a rule to be enforced. This lack of control almost blew up in the officials’ (and everyone else’s) faces when the final 5 minutes of the third period looked as much like a melee as it did a hockey game. Players at this level learn quickly, if it’s not called, then for today, it’s okay. One Merrimack defenseman slashed someone on just about every shift. He usually acted on his moments of bravery when he thought nobody was watching, but I was. So were the refs on a couple of the hacks, but not a single whistle blew. (Maybe, like me, he is just upset winter is coming to an end, as if we had a winter this year.)
This approach led to the chip-chip-chippiness in the third period. As I said, both sides took liberties and got away with them, nearly all of them. You know what I am saying.
The game saw an empty net goal, a goal with an extra attacker, goals from each power play, wicked wrist shots, broken sticks, pucks bouncing off of the lively boards, and hard, fast action. The old West Side Arena, which looks better than ever, was pretty full, and the game didn’t disappoint. Merrimack is a good team and certainly could contend for a title if they play with the edge they had today.
The Tomahawks will play #6 Windham who upset #3 Portsmouth-Newmarket 7-4 tonight out in Exeter. Keene and Bow advanced in the other side of the bracket.
I have a feeling I will get one more Grizzlies’ update in before spring tryouts start. So for now, I will leave it here. The Grizzlies have been a joy to watch, and it has been my honor and my pleasure to keep #GrizzlieNation updated with the measurables that are measured. Thank you all for the opportunity. Go Grizzlies!
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. Maybe I am good at picking up on these things, and maybe I am not. I guess you can decide. Either way, “It’s a great day for hockey” ~ the late “Badger” Bob Johnson.