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Banner night brings Eagles first win

Murphy, Kevlin and Smith brothers propel champs past Souhegan

FORMER EAGLES (l to r), Griffin Meador, Bryan Lamontagne, Taylor Cyr, Josh Potter and Ricky Gaudreau show off their championship rings after a ceremony honoring last year’s Division III champions. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 27, 2010
CONWAY — For a few minutes, everyone at the Ham Arena took a break from the present and honored the past on Wednesday night, Dec. 22.

The Kennett hockey team members received their championship rings and unveiled another championship banner in the arena's rafters prior to the second home game of the season against Souhegan.

When the pageantry was done, the Eagles had plenty of work to do, as they looked to bounce back from an 0-2 start to the season.

Behind a hat trick from Kevin Murphy and 24 saves from keeper Nick Kevlin, the Eagles took the momentum from the ring ceremony and rode to the first win of the season, a 6-2 beating of the Sabers.

"It felt like a long time," coach Mike Lane said. "It's amazing how two losses can make time go by so slow."

The Eagle coach noted that the win would allow his team to go into the break with a bit of momentum as the team looks to continue the progress.

"We can go into the Christmas tournament with a little momentum, hopefully get everyone some playing time and work on some things," he said.

The Eagles came out of the gate quickly, outshooting the Sabers by a 15-5 tally in the first period and the line of Chuckie Smith, Dillon Smith and Kevin Murphy had a big night, as the three linemates accounted for all six goals.

"The other lines had opportunities, but their goaltender played well," said Lane. "I like the way we can roll a lot of people out there."

The Eagles needed almost 10 minutes to get on the board, despite their offensive dominance of the Sabers.

With 5:40 to play, Chuckie Smith unleashed a slap shot from the top of the circle and the puck found its way to the back of the net for a power play goal and the first tally of the game.

With 10 seconds to go in the period, the Eagles added another tally, as Murphy and Dillon Smith broke in on a two-on-one in a shorthanded situation and the younger Smith broke hard to the net and the defender went with him, allowing Murphy to go one-on-one with the goalie and the Eagle junior drilled the puck home for a 2-0 lead.

The opportunities continued to mount for the Eagles in the second period, but again it took a good chunk of the period before the champs were able to get back on the board.

With 6:01 to play, Chuckie Smith took a nice pass from his brother and buried the puck for a 3-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Dillon Smith broke in with Murphy on a two-on-one, again in a shorthanded situation and this time, Murphy fed a nice pass through the defender's legs and Smith buried it in the net for a 4-0 lead.

Murphy upped the lead to 5-0, taking a nice back door pass from Matt Kelly and finding the twine as the period was winding down.

Seventeen seconds later, the Sabers finally got one past Kevlin, ending the second period with the Eagles up 5-1.

Murphy completed his hat trick in the third period, tipping home a pass from Dillon Smith for the 6-1 lead. The Sabers added one more goal for the final tally.

"Dillon sees the ice as well as anyone I've seen in four years," Lane said of the sophomore. "I think he's going to be a good fit with these guys."

Lane also had praise for the sophomore's older brother, who had been pressing in the first two games looking to break a scoring slump.

"I was really happy to see Chuckie get a couple," Lane said. "He had a strong skating game Saturday (against Somersworth) and nothing came of it, so it was good to see him get results."

Kevlin was the third Eagle goalie in three games, as Lane looks to find the successor to Ricky Gaudreau. John Bishop started the first game and Jonny Parkhurst started the second game. Lane expects the rotation to continue at least through the Christmas Tournament.

"We're looking at cycling through the goalies a few more times, giving each of them three starts in our first nine games," Lane said. "As a coaching staff we look at a lot of things, not just the games. We weigh it all.

"And they're all doing the right things everywhere," Lane added.

The Eagles finish up their holiday tournament in Portland, Maine today, Thursday, Dec. 30, at 10 a.m.

The team returns to regular season action on Wednesday, Jan. 5, with a trip to Alvirne for a 5:50 game with the Broncos, who moved down to Division III this season.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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