Big wins pile up as B-G continues to roll


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Belmont-Gilford senior forward Ethan Becker keeps the puck away from the grasp of a Somersworth/Coe-Brown defenseman in the host Bulldogs' 4-1 win in a key NHIAA Division III contest on Feb. 1 at Merrill Fay Arena in Laconia. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
February 06, 2017
LACONIA As the regular season schedule has heated up, so has the Belmont-Gilford hockey team. The Bulldogs picked up yet another huge victory against a top-tier team last week, taking care of business against visiting Somersworth/Coe-Brown in a 4-1 victory between two of the top NHIAA Division III teams at Merrill Fay Arena on Feb. 1.

"They're a good team but we outworked and outplayed them tonight," said B-G head coach Dave Saball of the visiting Bearcats. "The game plan was to take away time and space and jump on them early. We did all of those things."

It was the third win over a top four team in three weeks for the Bulldogs, as they continued to climb up the D-III standings along with wins over Berlin-Gorham and Kennett. The squad hasn't lost since the season-opening defeat on the road in Berlin on Dec. 14.

"Everybody wants to beat us now," said Saball of his team's newfound spot atop the D-III standings. "If we aren't on our best game, that's when you can get in trouble. We have to make sure we're continuing to prepare and play the way we're capable of."

B-G was aided by the play of goalkeeper Bailey Defosie early on, as the senior made a few key saves in helping the 'Dogs kill off a power play in the opening period. B-G got on track from there, and the hosts took a 1-0 lead with 9:07 left in the first. Senior defenseman James Buckley pounced on a loose puck, burying a rebound off an initial shot from Hunter Dupuis on a B-G power play.

It was a strong opening stanza for the Bulldogs, which outshot Somersworth/Coe-Brown by an 11-8 margin in the first 15 minutes.

"It all starts at practice for us," said Saball of the preparation. "You can tell how we're going to play based on how we look in practice and it's been a good year of practice for us for the most part. We're focused on the small details because they add up."

The lead grew to 2-0 late in the second period, as B-G continued to impose its will against Somersworth/Coe-Brown. Dupuis notched his second point of the night, as this time he scored with 4:34 remaining to send the home crowd into a frenzy. Dupuis took a long pass from Defosie in goal, and he outmuscled a defender to get in alone. His shot went up high, just off the underside of the crossbar and in to double the advantage.

It wasn't going to be too easy for the Bulldogs however. The Bearcats (9-2-1) cut the deficit in half with a goal just 4:06 into the third period, as Daniel Strum took a sweet diagonal pass from Jack Percy and deposited a shot through the pads of Defosie to make it a 2-1 game.

But with time winding down and things setting up for a wild finish, B-G came through. Senior Ethan Becker stole the puck at his own blue line from a Bearcat defenseman and took off on a breakaway. Using his speed, Becker stayed ahead of the pack and snuck a shot on the backhand into the back of the net to extend the lead to 3-1 with 4:04 left in regulation. It was Becker's eighth goal of the season.

Alex Muthersbaugh added an empty net goal for the Bulldogs with 1:25 remaining, his eighth of the season, putting things out of reach and handing B-G a 4-1 victory that was arguably its best of the season.

It was a big win for the Bulldogs after the two teams skated to a 3-3 tie earlier this season down at Rochester Ice Arena. In that game, B-G blew a 3-2 lead in the third period. Saball said his team wasn't about to do that again in the rematch.

"We made a mistake to give up a late goal in the first game but this time we had a (two-goal) buffer to work with," he said. "The team really wanted to get this win."

B-G held a 32-22 edge in shots on the night, with Defosie recording 21 saves in another sterling effort between the pipes.

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