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Playoff update: Eagle hockey boys win second-straight Division III title

Win over Bedford makes for a weekend sweep for Kennett squads

MATT KELLY moves the puck up the ice against Souhegan on March 10 in Concord. The Eagles beat the Sabers to advance to Saturday's Division III final in Manchester. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)

THE KENNETT GIRLS' BASKETBALL TEAM celebrates its Class I championship Friday at Southern New Hampshire University. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)

THE KENNETT HOCKEY TEAM celebrates its second championship in two years at the Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 11, 2010
MANCHESTER — Maybe Manchester should consider changing its nickname from the Queen City to Eagle City. After all, Kennett was all over New Hampshire's largest city on Friday and Saturday.

For the second time in two years, the Kennett hockey team brought home the Division III championship trophy, prevailing in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bedford in the title game on Saturday, March 13, at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.

The win marked the culmination of a season in which coach Mike Lane's troops lost just one game and brought an end to the careers of seniors Bryan Lamontagne, Taylor Cyr, Griffin Meador, Josh Potter and Ricky Gaudreau. The win also gave Kennett High School a weekend sweep, as the boys won their trophy 18 hours after the Kennett girls' basketball team took home the Class I title a few miles up the road.

The Eagles started out of the gate a little slow, as Bedford controlled the play to open the game, forcing Gaudreau to make a number of great saves. When the Eagles did get their legs under them, they capitalized quickly.

With 4:01 to play, Meador picked up the puck along the right-side boards, walked in to the face-off circle and flipped the puck past Bedford keeper Ben Firman for a 1-0 lead. The goal, which came on the power play, was assisted by Cyr and Lamontagne.

Less than a minute later, Meador again lit the lamp, as he banged home the puck after he and his teammates put great pressure on Firman. Kevin Murphy and Cody Richard got the helpers, giving Kennett a 2-0 lead heading to the first intermission.

However, the Eagles could not solve Firman in the second period, despite an early power play that saw them put a number of shots on net. Gaudreau also stood tall on the Bulldogs' first power play chance, turning away a couple of quality bids.

The Eagles got two power plays in the final seven minutes of the second period, but once again were not able to capitalize and the two teams headed to the second intermission with Kennett still up 2-0.

Kennett got yet another power play in the first three minutes of the third period, but the Eagles couldn't get anything in the net and the Bulldogs capitalized on an Eagle team that was clearly running out of gas, as they drove a puck past Gaudreau (the first goal surrendered in the playoffs by the Eagle keeper) to cut the lead to 2-1 with 8:21 to play.

The Eagles, who ran only two lines for the game, were clearly struggling as the final minutes ticked off the clock and Bedford did all it could to take advantage, peppering the net with shots, but Gaudreau held his ground, including on a last-second barrage in front of the Kennett net. The Eagle goalie had 13 saves in the final period and 31 for the game.

Look for a full recap and photos in this week's print edition.

Girls take title

MANCHESTER — The Lebanon Raiders learned the hard way one of the biggest secrets in Class I girls' basketball: The Kennett Eagles are more than just Allie Wagner.

In the quarterfinals and semifinals, the Eagle junior point guard put the team on her shoulders. In Friday's Class I title tilt, the remainder of the Eagles picked up Wagner and together they rocketed across the finish line to the ultimate team goal, a Class I championship.

The Eagles, with a solid all-around team effort, knocked off previously-unbeaten Lebanon, 52-45 at Southern New Hampshire University on Friday for the team's first state championship in more than two decades.

The Raiders held Wagner to no field goals, but the rest of the Eagles stepped up and filled the gap, led by Melissa Frase, Sam Meader, Lauren White and Moriah Heath. Frase had 14 points, White had 11, Meader had nine and Heath had 7 to help propel the Eagles to the win in front of a packed house of black-clad Eagle fans.

The Raiders came out with the game's first four points and seven of the first nine, but Heath scored Kennett's first two hoops to keep her team in the game and when Meader hit a three-point play at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter, Kennett had a 13-8 lead.

The Eagles stretched that lead to 26-15 at halftime, despite the fact that Wagner still only had two points, both from the free throw line.

The Eagles had a solid third quarter as well, as White hit for five points and Frase had seven, pushing the Eagles to a 40-27 lead after three quarters of play.

As coach Peter Ames and the Eagles expected would happen, Lebanon made a run in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 42-40 with 4:35 to play. However, the Raiders were atrocious from the foul line, missing eight free throws in the final four minutes (nine for 27 overall), while Wagner did her part at the other end, sinking nine free throws in the final 4:06 to help seal the deal. Heath hit the game's final point, a free throw with 2.5 seconds on the clock to finish off the scoring.

Look for a full recap with plenty of photos in this week's print edition.

Hockey boys blast Souhegan

CONCORD — The last time Kennett and Souhegan played in Concord's Everett Arena, Mike Lane was the play-by-play guy for Valley Vision television and the Sabers decimated the Eagles by an 8-0 score in the Division III semifinals in 2007.

Three seasons later, the Eagles returned the favor, scoring eight goals of their own and getting a bit of help from the Sabers to record a 9-0 win on Wednesday evening, March 10, earning their third trip to the Division III title game in three years.

The Sabers, who fell to the Eagles in last year's title game, came out pretty strong and kept the Eagles off the boards through the first five minutes of play. Kennett goalie Ricky Gaudreau also made a couple of spectacular saves in the first few minutes to keep the Sabers off the board.

However, just less than five minutes into the game, a Souhegan defender, looking to rifle the puck around the boards, instead fired it past his own goalie and into the net to open the floodgates. From there, the Eagles took over and never looked back.

Griffin Meador tipped home a Bryan Lamontagne slap shot with 4:22 to play in the first period for a 2-0 lead. Taylor Cyr also got an assist on the power play goal. Less than two minutes later, on another power play, Meador beat the Saber goalie to a loose puck, poked it around him and into the net for a 3-0 lead. Dillon Smith go the lone assist. Forty-two seconds later, Murphy fired a shot from the face-off circle that found the twine for a 4-0 lead. Cody Richard and Chuckie Smith got the assists and the Eagles took a comfortable 4-0 lead to the locker room after one period.

The Eagles scored twice in the first minute of the second period, with Meador setting up Murphy with a gorgeous pass just 50 seconds into the period. Lamontagne got the other assist. Ten seconds later, Cyr made it 6-0 with Chuckie Smith and Connor Todd getting the helpers.

Murphy netted another goal with 9:32 to play in the period while the teams were playing four-on-four hockey for a 7-0 lead, and with Gaudreau turning away more Souhegan pressure, the 7-0 score held up at the end of the period.

Richard opened the scoring less than a minute into the third period, poking home a rebound of a Meador shot. Murphy also got an assist. Chuckie Smith finished off the scoring with a tally with 5:25 to play.

Gaudreau finished with 21 saves in goal for the Eagles.

Kennett will now face-off with second-seeded Bedford in the Division III finals at Manchester's Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday, March 13, at noon. Look for updates here and on our sports section's Facebook page. And check out next week's print edition for the full story on both games.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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