Tag Archives: youth hockey

Flames 16U Take Bronze at Nationals

Recently the Manchester Flames sent a 16U Tier II hockey team to the 2016 Toyota-USA Hockey Youth Nationals in Wayne, NJ. The tournament ran from March 31 – April 4 in multiple arenas. The Flames went 4-0 in the Tier II State Playoffs back in November to earn their bid to Nationals. The team representing New Hampshire, and the Manchester Flames organization, is listed here in hopes of bringing some attention to the kids, the coaches, and the parents, coming together to accomplish so much.


#/ Player/ School
1 Keenan Alnahas-Central
2 Jack Compos-Central
5 Kyle Greer-Bedford
6 Patrick Goren-Memorial
7 Tim Spencer-Bedford
8 Noah Charron-Goffstown
9 Bowen Bilodeau-Central
11 Erik Voloshin-Bedford
15 Zachary Bayer-Bedford
18 Ryan Sullivan-Memorial
22 Ryan Huppe-Trinity
26 Nathan Musgrave-Bedford
31 David Guimont-Bedford
34 Kevin Anderson-Bishop Brady
49 Phillip Tsoukalas-Windham
83 Colin Voloshin-Bedford
88 Zack Rice-Bedford
91 Jacob Tremblay-Pembroke-Campbell
99 Jack McDonough-Bedford
Head Coach: Troy Spencer
Asst. Coach: Mike Bayer
Asst. Coach: Chris Platek

16U Team 2016

(Photo by Goren) (c) Carmo Photography 2016

I wasn’t in NJ to see any of the games but I did see updates from several parents involved with this team. I put this together simply to bring attention to these kids. The vast majority of kids playing sports may never even qualify to play in the their own State’s tournament for whatever sport they compete in. Then, to win a State Championship happens to fewer still. Then of course, you add in a trip to Nationals, and well, that’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life. That’s awesome! Congratulations!


See, last year (2015), this team (several of the same players) also went to Nationals, out in Salt Lake City, Utah. They played 3 games and lost all three of them. They were outscored 16-0 in the games, losing to teams from Tennessee, Arizona, and Utah. Regardless of the results, I’d bet that any of these competitors would admit they were better for having played that competition, win or lose.


Fast forward to this past week. The Flames traveled to Wayne, NJ to play at the Nationals, again. This year was different. Last year’s adversity may have played a part in the motivation to get better. Better they were.16U logo

In the Flames first game, they battled a team from Wyoming. The Flames won the first period, 3-1, before being outscored 3-1 themselves in the middle period. This game turned into an epic battle.


The Flames actually fell behind 1-0 before Eric Voloshin scored on the power play with an assist from Zack Bayer. A couple of minutes later, Colin Voloshin scored an even-strength goal from Jack McDonough to give the Flames a 2-1 lead. With just 89 seconds left in the period, Zack Bayer scored on the power play, the favor returned with an assist to Eric Voloshin.


In the second period, Wyoming turned up the heat, scoring three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. Then, with less than a minute to play in the period, Goffstown’s Noah Charron scored an even strength goal to tie the game at 4-4.


The final period was intense, and Wyoming scored first when Hunter Peterson (who would lead the tournament in goals, with 12) scored his third goal of the game to give them a 5-4 lead with less than 7 minutes to play. With just 59 seconds remaining, New Boston’s Kevin Anderson (Bishop Brady) scored the game-tying goal with an assist going to Phillip Tsoukalas. Regulation time would end in a 5-5 tie. After a 5-minute overtime period in which neither team scored, the game would be decided in a shootout.Flames

The shootout lineup went something like this, Noah Charron, Jack McDonough, Eric Voloshin, and Zack Bayer. Either way, the Flames won the shootout and took game one, 6-5. Keenan Alnahas played 56 minutes in net, turning away 19 of 24 shots, while the Flames pounded Nils Huot in net for Wyoming with 40 shots.


Less than 24 hours later, the Flames were back on the ice to play the Nebraska champs. This game was quite different from the opener where offense ruled, and few penalties were called. The Flames were called for 8 minor penalties in this game (with no penalties called in the 3rd period), but somehow kept Nebraska from scoring with the man advantage, as they went 0-7 on the power play. After one period, the score was 1-1. After two periods, the score was 2-2.


Nebraska scored first, late in the opening period, but Manchester answered with a goal of their own, just 90 seconds later. Colin Voloshin scored the goal with an assist going to Ryan Sullivan. Early in the second period, the Flames went up 2-1 when Zack Bayer scored from Eric Voloshin. Nebraska would tie the game a few minutes later.


In the 3rd period, the Flames would get a goal from Colin Voloshin with just 3:17 left in the game. The lone assist went to Kevin Anderson. The New Hampshire State Champs would pepper Nebraska goaltender, Brodie Bednarz, with 48 shots before being pulled for the extra attacker. There were only 56 seconds left on the clock when Kyle Greer would score an empty net goal to seal the Flames 4-2 victory. Assists on the final goal went to Jack McDonough and Eric Voloshin. David Guimont was excellent in net for the Flames, stopping 25 of 27 shots he faced.


Game three saw the Manchester Flames play the Oklahoma City Oil Kings, and this game was flat, down and dirty. This game would feature 14 power plays, 34 minutes in penalties, headshots, missed calls, and 13 total penalties that were called (9 on the Flames).


Oklahoma would jump out to a 4-1 lead in the first 24 minutes of the game. Each game was played in three, 17-minute periods, and a 5-minute overtime if needed. The second half of this game, especially the final period, saw the Flames stand up for themselves and be counted. The lone Flames goal in the first two periods, came when Eric Voloshin scored on a nice play from Zack Bayer and Colin Voloshin on the power play.


In the 3rd period, the Flames were literally on fire. They scored two goals and cut the deficit to 4-3 with half a period to play. Eric Voloshin scored an even-strength goal that was unassisted. Then, Zack Rice scored a goal set up by Ryan Huppe and Tim Spencer. After cutting the lead to one goal, the Flames were whistled for four consecutive penalties, and couldn’t overcome the disadvantages to score another goal. Finally, on the power play, Oklahoma scored on a power play with 20 seconds left to win 5-3. The Flames split the goaltending duties in this game with, David Guimont playing 23:51 and allowing 4 goals, while Keenan Alnahas played 27:09, allowing 1 goal. Apparently nobody kept track of shots on goal in this game so I will assume that the Flames goaltenders were awesome and saved a lot of shots.

Screenshot 2016-04-07 at 9.38.16 AM

The game against Oklahoma was a physical battle, and it was mentally draining as well. Despite the loss, the Flames qualified for the Playoff Bracket, making the final four.


As the pairings would have it, the Flames would open the playoffs against the team from Wyoming. Manchester would fail to get any continuity going in this game and ultimately lose 5-0. The game was full of penalties (12) and totaled 40 minutes in penalties, including misconduct penalties to both sides. The teams would combine to go 0-for-10 on power plays. Keenan Alnahas played 17:00 (one period) in net, allowing 2 goals on 6 shots. David Guimont played 34:00 (two periods) in goal, allowing 3 goals on 24 shots. The Flames would get 21 shots on Nils Huot in net, but none would get by him. Wyoming would go on to win the Championship, beating Oklahoma 4-2 in the finals. The Flames would end up taking the Bronze medal, finishing in 3rd place.
Only one team every year gets to end their season and post-season with a win in any given level of play. That’s very difficult to achieve, and people lose sight of the teams (everyone else) that doesn’t win their final game of the season, or even qualify for post-season play. This is where I like to turn things to reverse and realize how many teams started play at any given level, way back at the beginning of the season. Then the funnel gets smaller, and fewer teams qualify for local playoffs, and then only one team wins at that level. Next thing you know, there are just a few teams playing at Regionals, Sectionals, Nationals, or whatever it may be. To know that a team made it that far, to play with the final teams competing at all, is pretty awesome. To also realize that it took everyone on the roster to get there, is even more impressive. Then to place, to earn a medal in the final rounds of competition, well that’s something to hold dear because so few get to apply their skills in such rarefied air. Congratulations to the Flames 16U team, to their coaches, the families, and the organization. Remember though, chances are, none of us would be talking about Wayne, NJ and Nationals were it not for the kids. It’s all about the kids.

USA Hockey

NH Avalanche – March Madness Champs!

The NH Avalanche 2000 team wrapped up their 2014-15 season by competing in the March Madness Tournament in Marlborough, Mass. at the New England Sports Center. After winning the Spring Classic #1 Tournament at Tri-Town Ice Arena last weekend, the Avs were confident entering play at NES.

Game one of the tournament had the Avalanche playing the team from Gardiner, Maine. The Avs, who were missing several players due to school spring sports tryouts, attending the NCAA Hockey Regional, and more, dressed just 8 players for their first game. Gardiner dressed twice the number of skaters and made it very clear from the opening face off that they were going to try to pound the Avalanche into submission. While the folks from Maine were taking runs at players all game, they miraculously were whistled for just one penalty in the game and that came very late in the third period.

The Avs scored first despite playing without much energy right from the start. Jon Last scored the initial goal on a backhand shot. Mikey Perry and Tyler Whiting made consecutive passes to set up the goal. Gardiner answered with a quick goal on a wrist shot that banked into the net off of the goal post. Clay Sanders would give the Avs a brief lead at 2-1 when his shot caromed into the net off of a Gardiner defenseman. Gardiner would tie the game at two apiece while on the power-play. The Avs had the puck in their defensive end with a chance to clear the puck to the boards, but whiffed on the clearing attempt and allowed a break away chance in close for the tying goal. The game would end in a 2-2 tie, both teams picking up a point in the standings.

In game two, a 10:20pm start, the Avalanche played the Tough Pucks from Vermont. The Avs did get two of their rostered players back for the night-cap and that did help. After passing time for some 8 hours between games, it was finally time to play hockey.

After an ugly, scoreless opening period, where both teams had trouble connecting on passes and icing seemed to be an epidemic, things came together, slowly. First, Mikey Perry took a pass, I mean clearing attempt, from his opponent and rifled a shot past the goaltender for a shorthanded goal. 20 seconds later, the Tough Pucks tied the game on the power play. Then Sebastian Beal scored for the Avs on a beautiful play set up by Caiden Paradise. 90 seconds later, the Tough Pucks answered again, tying the score at 2-2.

Still in the second period, Max Lajeunesse set up Christian Levesque for a good-looking shot on goal, and Mikey Perry slammed the rebound home, giving the Avs a 3-2 lead. Then, after drawing consecutive penalties, the Avs struck again. With a 5-on-3 advantage, Christian Levesque scored to cap a beautiful passing play from Cody Sullivan and Sebastian Beal. The Avs scored their fifth goal of the period when Caiden Paradise misfired on a slap shot and sent the puck flipping end over end in an arching motion towards the net. In one motion, Cody Sullivan settled the puck and slid a perfect pass across the crease to Tyler Whiting who stuffed the puck into the open net.

In the third period, the Tough Pucks got their third goal of the game, all from their best player, cutting the lead to 5-3. The NH Avalanche held the score there and finished game two with a 5-3 victory that ended just before midnight. The win also gave the Avalanche the opportunity to control their own destiny in game three on Saturday night.

Saturday night brought game three, which started just after 9:45pm. The Avalanche played one of the two teams entered the tournament from the Maine Jr Black Bears hockey program in Bangor, Maine. The Jr Black Bears had struggled in their first two games in the tournament. Half way through the first period, the play favored the Avalanche but the score remained 0-0.

Then, after dominating possession in the offensive zone, Cody Sullivan scored on a play set up by Tyler Whiting and Sebastian Beal. After a few more minutes of back and forth play, the Avalanche blew things wide open. Over a five-minute span to finish the first period and the beginning of the second period, the Avs scored seven goals. First, it was Beal from Sullivan and Christian Levesque to go up 2-0. Just 31 seconds later, Whiting scored from Sullivan and Beal. Less than a minute later Mikey Perry scored on assists from Jon Last and Max Lajeunesse. The Avalanche led 4-0 after the first period.

During the first 2:52 of the second period the Avs would score four more times. Clay Sanders scored on a rising slap shot from the point after being set up by Whiting and Sullivan. Then Sullivan scored from point-blank on a perfect pass from Beal. Max Lajeunesse then scored his first of three consecutive goals on a nice pass from Jon Last. Mikey Perry made a great pass to Lajeunesse for the next goal, with the passing play being started by Caiden Paradise. The Avalanche led 8-0 with more than half of the game remaining to be played. From this point on, the Avs passed up open net opportunities and rarely shot the puck, deciding to pass the puck and work on the structure of the game.

In the third period Max Lajeunesse scored on a breakaway opportunity that was more or less an ‘excuse me’ break in when the puck bounced over a defenders stick as Max was fore-checking and left him all alone in the offensive zone. Later in the period Caiden Paradise flipped a puck in the air from the right-wing boards toward the crease, only to see the puck catch the inside of the goaltender’s right pad and slide into the net through five-hole. The Maine Jr Black Bears did score with 3:55 to play in the contest and fans from both sides of the contest cheered their goal, and their persistence to play the game despite the results.

With the Avalanche winning game three, 10-1, they locked up the #2 seed after round robin play. This meant the Avs would play Sunday morning in one of the semi-final games. It also meant they would again play the physical team from Gardiner, Maine.

Game four, was a 10:10am start against Gardiner Youth Hockey. The head coach from Gardiner continued to show his cordial disposition by refusing to acknowledge certain coaches and members of the Avalanche team, clearly assessing his own value at much higher than the market would likely bear. So, with no love lost between these groups, the game began.

The Avalanche played a good hockey game and would go on to beat Gardiner 2-1. The Avs pounded pucks deep, hitting the end boards shift after shift for all three periods, forcing the Gardiner team to constantly defend their end. The Avs, who have struggled to score goals all year, scored first. Cam Leborgne used his tremendous skating ability (before his knees got taken out on a low hit in the second period) to create some separation for himself before ripping a wrist shot, top shelf, from Caiden Paradise to give the Avs the early lead. The opening period would end with the Avs leading 1-0.

In the second period the Avalanche would double their lead to 2-0 when Cody Sullivan led a beautiful rush up ice before Tyler Whiting scored the goal. Finally, half way through the third period, Gardiner found a way to put the puck in the net after the Avs missed half a dozen chances to clear the puck. The Avalanche would hold on, advancing to the Championship Game, with the 2-1 victory. Before moving on to game five, and finishing this commentary regarding Gardiner, because Mom always told me to say nothing if I had nothing nice to say, I say this. In two games versus Gardiner it was clear that they don’t handle the puck very well, so they take runs at hitting everything in sight. I do love the physicality of hockey and hitting is certainly welcome. Somehow though, in 72 minutes of hockey, the team from Gardiner was whistled for just 3 minor penalties, despite sending two different players to the room to be checked out for concussions and taking the knees out from under two other players. The Avalanche were whistled for 11 penalties in the two games.

In between games, as Gardiner checked the monitors to see if they were still playing (they were not), I talked with several adults around the facility. Among my conversations with folks who had witnessed several different teams playing hockey at the rinks around the massive building, it was decided that were the kids allowed to play hockey without any adults around, they’d probably play good, hard hockey and sort things out just fine. They would likely shake hands at the end of the day and just love the fact that they got to play the game all day, as it should be. And for those parents who argue this way or that way, trying to prove some asinine or childish point, remember where the kids learned to be who, and how they are.

Game five also happened to be the Championship Game of the tournament. This also meant there was another opponent for the Avalanche to play, North East Lock Monsters. The Avalanche who had played most of their hockey with just 7 or 8 skaters were gassed, but they were also playing for their second title in as many weekends.

The game was scheduled to start at 1:50pm but it started well after 2pm as the previous game on the ice sheet, also a final, had been one-sided but awards were presented on the ice afterwards. Once the puck dropped it was clear that this game would be a battle.

The NH Avalanche 2000 team scored first when Jon Last scored on a nice play from Mikey Perry and Max Lajeunesse. The Avs would add a power play goal before the end of the period, when Cody Sullivan scored with assists going to Caiden Paradise and Lajeunesse. The first period buzzer sounded, kind of (it’s a nice score board, but a weak buzzer), with the Avs leading 2-0.

Somewhere in the early part of the second period, two things happened at the same time. First, the Lock Monsters turned up their level of play. Second, the Avs looked tired as they stopped skating as hard and struggled to complete passes or break out of their own defensive end. After a four-minute barrage from the Lock Monsters, that hemmed in the Avs for consecutive shifts, they finally beat Gavin Cram in net and cut the lead to 2-1. Late in the second period, Sebastian Beal would take a vicious hit to his head from a player larger than any of the coaches on either bench after gloving down the puck to make a play. Before Beal was left motionless on the ice for a moment, he played the puck to his line mate, Cody Sullivan. Sullivan moved the puck to Tyler Whiting while the referee held his arm in the air. Tyler skated around the back of the net before sliding the puck into the open side to give the Avs a 3-1 lead. The second period would end with the Avs leading 3-1.

In the third period, the Avs held off the Lock Monsters and even increased their lead when Tyler Whiting made a spectacular pass to Max Lajeunesse (double-shifting in Beal’s slot after the hit in the 2nd period) who sent a laser of a shot into the top of the net as an exclamation point on the victory. Beal would return to the ice for two short shifts on defense in the last two minutes of the game, but the outcome had been decided, and the Avs were announced as Champions after their 4-1 victory.

The Tournament Recap

In the tournament’s five games, the Avs compiled a 4-0-1 record while scoring 23 goals and allowing just 8 goals overall. In these recaps of each game I did not really mention the Avs goaltender, Gavin Cram, but he is not to be forgotten. Cram made huge saves throughout the tournament for the Avs, and was very much instrumental in their run through the tournament. The Avs made plenty of mistakes in the tournament, including numerous mishaps in their own end. Most of the time though, seriously, Cram bailed them out by making saves, many of which with nary a rebound. I didn’t count the total number of saves that Gavin made in the tournament, but lets just say that he made many more than enough.

As is usually the case when a team plays together, they succeed, together. Of all the teams in the tournament I would dare say that the Avalanche got more of a contribution from more of their roster than any other team in the field. The Avs skated a total of ten players over the course of the tournament, and all ten players scored goals. Seven of the ten players actually scored four points or more in the five games, which is amazing. It usually takes a full roster to be engaged and participating in order to succeed through the wear and tear of tournament play, and the Avs showed they had what it took to get the job done, despite having the shortest bench in every game they played.

The coaching staff is not forgotten here either. Coach Harvey and Coach Sully continued to try to positively affect our kids, the players. They seemed to be having a good time, and I can say that any conversations I had with them were generally light-hearted, good-natured, and full of laughs. I think that I speak on behalf of our entire team when I say thank you to both of them for not only this tournament but for the entire season as they prioritized our kids’ development even over their own calendars and commitments. Thank you.

2014-15 Final thoughts

First, it’s all about the kids. It should be about the kids because were they not out there working hard and playing we’d have none of the excuses we have to spend time together and enjoy the kids playing a kids game. I love youth sports primarily because it features our youth, and it allows us a peek at our future. To me, youth sports often times comes the closest that competition gets to pure innocence and the pure joy that accompanies accomplishment that the participants never dreamed was possible. Thank you to the kids for working so hard to be better athletes, better teammates, and better versions of yourselves. I am thankful for the opportunity to share with all of you my observations and recording of measurements found in all sports. I appreciate your inclusion within the dynamic of team sports and also for the feedback throughout the season.

Certainly this season had its share of ups and downs. We all experienced those things and we all felt frustration at different levels and for different reasons. Some players left, some came back, some got hurt, and some just kept showing up. But I remind you again, despite our feelings to one side or another, without the kids, we could just sit home and make up stories about nothing. Through all of the losses and the one-sided lessons in how to persevere, there was progress. Players did get better. The team did improve. The team did bond. The coaches left an impact. New friends were made. People were brought together from miles apart because of the game, because of the kids. In the end, most of the original roster came together in one form or another to win back-to-back tournament championships. I know the level of competition fluctuated wildly these past two weekends, but the kids played well. They played a team game and for all of the huge deficits they faced back in September, they finished these two tournaments with 8 wins, 0 losses, 1 tie, and lots of hardware. I can honestly say that I am happy to have witnessed this groups’ improvement over the last 6 months. Progress was made.

I have to say thank you to all of the parents who made sacrifices week after week to get kids to rinks all over the place, even if the game was cancelled or an opponent didn’t show up. I know we all made trips that we didn’t want to make, maybe even at hours we didn’t even wish to be awake. But it’s about the kids, and all of our kids benefit from the sacrifices we make to get the kids to the rink. Thank you all. I look forward to seeing you in the future, most likely at a rink to be named later. Great job NH Avalanche!


Manchester Flames 14U in Salt Lake City

For those of you out there that follow youth hockey, a team I am rather familiar with has won their Tier II State tournament and earned a bid to Nationals in Salt Lake City, UT. Best wishes to the Flames.

I have copied the link to the Nationals site here.

Flames Nationals

Flames 14U Schedule at Nationals, 2015

NH Avalanche 2000 – Turkey Tournament 2-3

Game 2:

Saturday morning the NH Avalanche 2000 team opened play against the Advantage Ice at Dover Arena. Both teams had earned victories in their first games of the tournament. The Advantage Ice team had beaten Maine Hockey Academy 4-0 the evening before, while the Avs had beaten Seacoast Spartans 4-2. Everyone knew this would be a tough game.

The Avalanche ending up on the short end of a 4-0 score. The Advantage Ice were well schooled and didn’t make many mistakes. They capitalized quickly when the Avs did make a mistake. The Avalanche just couldn’t get things clicking, in part, due to the Advantage team. If the Avs had a player at the front of the net, the puck was out wide. If the puck was sent through the crease or on net, the Avs had players outside of that area. They just could not string anything together during game two.

As the Avs headed in to the final game of the opening round, they needed some help from the Seacoast Spartans just to be in the tiebreaker conversation in order to get to the Championship round.

Game 3:

The final game was played at The Whittemore Center on the campus of UNH, against the team from Maine Hockey Academy. Maine had played the two teams who would end up meeting in the finals, and had not scored a goal in two games. The NH Avalanche 2000 team jumped out to an early lead, getting goals from Max Lajeunesse, Caiden Paradise, and Sydney Herrington. After one period the Avs were helping themselves in the standings and leading 3-0. Assists on the goals came from Michael Perry, Jon Last, and Cody Sullivan.

Did you ever have one of those days when things never really come together but there are glimmers of hope throughout the day that give you a sense that they could come together, only to have it all crash in the end? Well that’s kind of how this finishes. The Avs would not score again, and would end up losing the game 5-3. In the meantime, the Spartans did their best to upset the Boston Advantage, but ended up losing 1-0. The loss left the Avs with a record of 1-2, and out of the playoff round. Boston Advantage would go on to beat Advantage Ice 1-0 in the title game.

NH Avalanche 2000 – Turkey Tournament 1

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.

NH Avalanche 2000 @ East Coast Wizards – The EDGE Sports Center

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.

NH Avalanche 2000 Weekend November 15-16

This weekend the NH Avalanche 2000 team had a pretty full weekend playing two games on Saturday and another game Sunday morning. All three games were played at The Ice Den Arena in Hooksett, NH.

I am going to approach this recap a little bit differently I think. I am just going to list the results and then write about some points from the games and see how that goes. Continue reading