Eagles win battle of the unbeatens
Kennett boys take care of Bedford to stake claim to Division III lead
|BRYAN LAMONTAGNE raises his arms in celebration after scoring in the first period Saturday, as Kevin Murphy wraps his teammate up in a celebratory hug. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
January 25, 2010CONWAY — Before Saturday's game with Bedford, the Kennett hockey team honored four of the team's major sponsors with an on-ice presentation.
The Eagles then showed the sponsors that they are certainly worth sponsoring, as they won the battle of Division III's lone unbeaten teams with a 7-3 defeat of the Bulldogs.
"I think it was much closer than a 7-3 game," said Eagle coach Mike Lane when the action was over. "I thought we did a good job adjusting on the fly and once we settled into our game plan, we did a good job."
The Eagles wasted almost no time in getting on the board, as they scored after just one minute of play, as Taylor Cyr pounded home a rebound of a Logan Spoor shot from the blue line to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Chuckie Smith, who was also banging around with Cyr in front of the net, also picked up an assist along with Spoor.
The Bulldogs, however, were not intimidated at all and came right back down the ice just more than a minute later and tied the game at one, scoring on a breakaway goal with 12:44 to play.
Connor Todd and Josh Potter came close to getting the Eagles back in the league, but couldn't get the puck in the net. At the other end, Eagle keeper Ricky Gaudreau held up his end of the bargain as he turned away a number of good Bulldog chances, while a few other shots soared wide of the net.
Griffin Meador, Smith and Potter had good scoring chances turned away, but the Eagles were able to pull back to the lead with 5:34 left on the first period clock.
Senior captain Bryan Lamontagne launched one of his blistering slapshots from in front of the Bedford bench and it screamed right into the net for a 2-1 Kennett lead. Meador and Kevin Murphy picked up the helpers.
Meador, Cody Richard, Chris King and Smith all had good scoring chances and Dillon Smith had a shot tipped wide on the power play the Eagles were awarded with 1:52 to play in the period.
The Eagles needed just 22 seconds of that advantage to take a two-goal lead, as Meador made a great pass across the crease to Cyr, who had nothing but twine to aim for to give Kennett a 3-1 lead. Lamontagne got the second helper on the goal, which gave the Eagles the two-goal advantage heading to the locker rooms.
Kennett got themselves in trouble early in the second period, taking a penalty just more than two minutes in, but Meador and Cyr turned in a solid penalty kill and Gaudreau turned away the shot that did come his way.
The Eagles put some pressure on after the penalty kill, with Spoor and Murphy teaming up for a couple of good bids, while Gaudreau made a couple solid saves, including a glove save off a face-off in his zone.
The Eagles took another penalty with 8:48 to play in the second period. Gaudreau had to make a number of big saves and he got some help from Meador and Dillon Smith in clearing the puck, but with 7:08 to play the Eagles took another penalty, giving Bedford a five-on-three advantage for 20 seconds.
The Eagles killed off the first penalty, but the Bulldogs cashed in on the second, scoring with 6:12 to play, making it 3-2.
However, the Eagles responded just more than 40 seconds later, as Meador moved up the far boards and into the offensive zone before snapping a shot past the Bedford goalie for a 4-2 lead. Matt Kelly picked up the assist on the goal.
Lamontagne, Spoor and Todd kept the Eagle pressure going, but it was Murphy who gave the Eagles a three-goal lead when he took a pass from Meador and buried it in the net for a 5-2 lead with 1:55 to play in the period.
Kennett went on the power play with just more than a minute to play and that advantage carried over into the third period, but the Eagles couldn't score on the power play.
Murphy picked up his second goal of the night with 11:33 to play in the game, as Meador notched the assist for a 6-2 Kennett lead.
Bedford got a power play chance with 10:35 to play and again took advantage after a couple of Gaudreau saves, closing the gap to 6-3.
The Eagle keeper continued to play well as Bedford fought for a couple more goals to get back in the game.
However, a series of penalties in the final few minutes allowed the Eagles to get on the board in a four-on-four situation with 1:07 to play, as Meador punched in a shot from near the far boards for the final tally in the 7-3 win.
"In the big games, you need your best players to play big," said Lane. "We hadn't had to deal with adversity this season and we did right off the bat tonight. There was a ton of emotion going into this game."
Lane praised his squad for upping their intensity when things got close, consistently extending the lead every time Bedford pulled close.
"They helped us out with some undisciplined penalties, but I think that comes with experience," Lane noted. "Our guys have been there and the guys that haven't are following the ones who have."
The Eagles, now Division III's lone unbeaten team, will play host to Laconia on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 4:20 p.m. at Ham Arena. On Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Eagles head to Laconia for a 4:15 game with Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes.
The sponsors honored before the game were Frechette Tire (Evan Howland), Ossipee NAPA Auto Parts (Chris Moneypenny), Indian Mound Golf Club (Jonathan Rivers) and Webmaster Mark Graffam.