OWEN GONYA battles a Dover defender in action on Dec. 18 at the Pop Whalen Arena. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 20, 2013WOLFEBORO — Dover is ranked as one of the top hockey teams in Division II this season and one of the top teams in the state.
The Green Wave skated an experienced bunch of skaters onto the ice at the Pop Whalen Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 18, and met up with a Kingswood team that matched them step for step.
For the first period, at least.
The Green Wave scored two goals in the final minute of the second period and added four more goals in the third on the way to an 8-1 win over the Knights in Kingswood's opening game of the 2013-2014 season.
"That's a team that does well with the lead," Knight coach Andrew Trimble said of Dover. "When they're up by one or two goals, they're like sharks, they see blood in the water and they go crazy."
With a pair of untested (at least at the varsity level) goaltenders, Trimble knew a team like Dover could spell trouble for his squad.
"They're going to have a learning curve," he said of keepers Tom Dougherty and Alex Seigars. He pointed out that three of the four goals in the first two period are goals that the Knights probably won't let up in a few weeks.
"Those are things we're not going to do in two weeks," he said.
Dougherty got the start in net for the Knights and was solid early, making a couple of nice saves on scoring bids from the Green Wave.
The Knights were all over the ice as well, skating in with great chances on net right out of the gate. Andrew Contrada, Owen Gonya, Josh Grasso and Austin Chasse had the best early chances for the Knights, but they couldn't convert.
The Green Wave did spend a good chunk of time in their offensive zone for one spurt before the Knights were finally able to get the puck out of harm's way and turn it into scoring bids. Grasso had a shot stopped and Gonya got in close with a bid, only to be denied. Matt Mitchell pounced on the rebound and was denied as well.
Luke French had a scoring bid from the side denied by the Dover keeper and Grasso had another shot saved.
The Green Wave were finally able to get on the board with 5:30 to go in the period, as Dougherty was caught out to the side of his net and couldn't get back in time, allowing Dover to take a 1-0 lead.
Kingswood didn't back down, as Contrada and Grasso came right back up the ice with scoring chances.
It didn't take long to tie the score, as Grasso skated right down the middle of the ice and slid the puck through the Dover goaltender and into the net for the tying goal with 4:18 to go in the first.
Brodie Deshaies, Owen Richard and Contrada all had scoring bids in the final minutes, but the period ended with the score knotted at one.
That tie didn't last long in the second period, as the visitors fired one past Dougherty from high in front just 1:07 into the period, taking the 2-1 lead, a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Grasso and Contrada tried to quickly pull the Knights even again, but their chances were denied. Dougherty also got some help from Contrada, as the freshman was able to control the puck when his goaltender had been caught up in a collision in front of the net.
The Knights took the game's first penalty with 11:50 to go in the second and did a nice job killing it off. Dougherty made a couple of saves and Grasso and Mitchell both had strong defensive plays.
Gonya had a couple of scoring chances and Matt Harrington had a shot deflected wide of the net. French had a bid denied by the keeper and Mitchell and Contrada both got in close, but the Dover keeper wouldn't break. Dougherty also held his ground.
However, with 15 seconds to go in the period, Dougherty came out to push a puck away and it slipped under his stick and clanged off the boards. Before he could get back to the net, the puck was poked home for a 3-1 lead.
Just 31 seconds later, a Dover attacker put a great move on Dougherty on a breakaway and netted the fourth goal for his team, sending the game to the final period with Dover up 4-1.
Seigars took over in net for the third period and Dover wasted little time in testing him, scoring just 30 seconds into the period for a 5-1 lead.
Chasse followed that up by ringing one off the post at the other end, while Grasso and Richard each had scoring chances as well.
Kingswood got its first power play with 11:53 to go in the game, but couldn't convert, as Dover did a good job killing the penalty.
The Green Wave scored with 9:25 to go for a 6-1 lead and just 27 seconds later added another for a 7-1 lead and the game went to running time.
The visitors added a power play goal in the final five minutes to go up by an 8-1 score and that's how the game ended.
Trimble noted that the two late goals in the second seemed to send Dover on their way.
"That was like a sling shot for them going to the third period," he said.
He also pointed out, with a team filled with 14 and 15 year olds, the ceiling remains high with his group.
"They are only going to get better," he said. "We're excited about where we're going."
The Knights played at Merrimack on Saturday, Dec. 21, but that game was played after the early holiday deadlines for this week's edition.
Kingswood will be hosting the first Kingswood Holiday Ice Classic at the Pop Whalen Arena, with John Stark-Hopkinton, Kennebunk, Maine and Winnacunnet all in attendance.
The tourney begins on Friday, Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. and Kingswood's first game is at 5 p.m. against John Stark-Hopkinton. Kingswood plays twice on Saturday, Dec. 28, playing Kennebunk at 5:40 p.m. and Winnacunnet at 8 p.m.
The tournament championship game is Sunday, Dec. 29, at 5 p.m.
Kingswood returns to regular season action on Thursday, Jan. 2, with a trip to Spaulding for an 8 p.m. game.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com