Freshman Nate Bowler (15) hounds Souhegan's Alex Maresco during B-G's 7-1 loss in the Division III semifinals on March 13 at Everett Arena. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 17, 2014CONCORD – Behind an overpowering performance from an extremely talented team, second-seeded Souhegan High School blasted third-seeded Belmont-Gilford from the postseason on March 13. The Bulldogs fell behind early and never got on track in a 7-1 loss in the NHIAA Division III semifinals at Everett Arena.
"The plan was to get out early and try to keep it a low-scoring game," said B-G head coach Jay Londer, whose team finished 16-4 overall after reaching its second semifinal in three years. "We came in as the underdog and (Souhegan) just proved why they're loaded."
The Sabers dominated from the get-go, putting consistent pressure on B-G goalkeeper Calvin Davis. Souhegan (17-2) went on the power play just 1:49 into the first period, and the Sabers wasted little time in cashing in. Senior sniper Mike Hayden took a rebound from Davis that came off an initial shot from Alex Maresco and buried it for the 1-0 lead just 2:58 into the first period.
"We wanted to make sure that we got out early and executed our game plan," said Souhegan head coach Dan Belliveau. "Part of our game plan was to just control it down in their zone and they would eventually take penalties. Then we wanted to make them pay for it."
The Sabers scored twice more in the middle of the portion of the opening stanza to take a 3-0 lead, as James Wilson tallied both markers with 8:58 and 6:46 left respectively.
Just over two minutes later however, the Bulldogs finally got on the board with their first – and only – tally of the evening. Defenseman Daryll Cahill played a looping puck out of his own zone that took a funny bounce just across mid ice. Junior forward Andrew D'Amour pounced on it for B-G, and he made a nifty deke to get in alone on the Souhegan goal, eventually burying a backhand with 4:36 left to make it a 3-1 contest.
"D'Amour scores and I'm thinking we are starting to get back into it," said Londer. "But we weren't getting enough chances to score."
The Sabers reestablished their three-goal cushion just 2:30 later however, as Taylor Farrow's shot through traffic somehow got past Davis and put Souhegan up 4-1 with 2:06 remaining in the first.
"It's tough," began Londer. "Souhegan is loaded. They've got five or six kids who are going to be able to play hockey in college and we don't see teams like that very often."
The teams played a scoreless second period, though the 'Dogs righted the ship a bit after being outshot by a whopping 15-3 margin in the first. B-G had its first power play of the game when Farrow went off for elbowing with 4:26 left in the second, but the Sabers killed off the penalty and took their 4-1 lead into the third period.
Any hopes of a late B-G comeback were dashed just 14 seconds into the final period, as Souhegan came out roaring and made it 5-1 when Joseph Nutting sniped a beauty off the inside of the post with 14:46 remaining.
From there, the wheels fell off for the Bulldogs, as the squad took a multitude of penalties late and suffered a game misconduct when Cahill was ejected after a double roughing call with 9:13 remaining. The Sabers tacked on two more goals, as Wilson and Jonathan Gaffney pushed the lead to 7-1, both coming on the power play.
"It got a little chippy and we wanted to make sure we stayed disciplined," said Belliveau. "Let them take the penalties, we just had to keep doing what we were doing. We knew that we had the lead and we didn't have to score any more goals to win."
It was a difficult end to the season for the Bulldogs, which finished the night with just 10 shots on net compared to 40 for Souhegan.
"When their top line was on the ice, it almost felt like a power play," admitted Londer of Souhegan's first unit. "They got too many chances against us and eventually, they're talented enough where they're going to make you pay."
Souhegan outshot B-G by a 12-2 margin in the final period en route to the lopsided victory. Davis finished the night with 33 saves while Souhegan goalkeeper Connor McCall made nine saves in net.