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Eagles win final two, get third seed

NICK MASSA moves the puck up the boards during action against Manchester West on Feb. 24. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 28, 2011
CONWAY — The Kennett hockey team closed out the regular season with a pair of wins and in doing so, clinched the third seed in the Division III playoffs.

The Eagles took to the ice at Ham Arena on Saturday, Feb. 26, for the final regular season game. The team's seniors were honored prior to the game and the Eagles then went out and took care of business, besting Con-Val 4-1.

"They're goalie made it a lot closer than I would've liked," said Kennett coach Mike Lane. "He was phenomenal."

The Eagles threw almost 60 shots on net on the night and the Cougar keeper made 54 saves. Kennett outshot the visitors 24-2 in the first period.

"It's always nice on senior night to have a good effort and close out the season on a good note," Lane stated.

Chuckie Smith got the scoring started about 10 minutes into the contest, lighting the lamp with assists to Dillon Smith and Kevin Murphy.

Just two minutes later, Con-Val capitalized on a Kennett turnover and scored a power play goal to tie the game at one.

However, just 1:12 after the tying goal, the Eagles took the lead for good, as Dan Rivera executed a perfect give-and-go with Justin Munck and buried the puck for a 2-1 lead. Cody Richard also picked up an assist on the tally.

The score remained 2-1 until just under three minutes remained in the second period when Logan Spoor unleashed a slap shot from the point and found the back of the net, with Dillon Smith getting the assist for a 3-1 lead.

Kennett closed out the scoring with 3:15 to go in the game, as Munck fed Nick Massa, who fired it off the post and in for the 4-1 score.

Seniors Nick Kevlin and Jonny Parkhurst split the time in net, with Kevlin stopping seven shots in the first half of the game and Parkhurst stopping five in the second half.

The Eagles welcomed a very depleted Manchester West to the Ham Arena for a makeup game on Feb. 24, and picked up a 9-1 win in a game that saw one West player tossed by the officials and the starting goalie relegated to the penalty box to start the third period.

Kennett came after the Blue Knights right away, with Gabe Lee, Brad Canavari, Anthony LaRusso, Chuckie Smith, Murphy and Munck all making scoring bids, only to be shut down.

John Bishop got the start in net for Kennett and turned away a couple of West chances.

The Eagles got the game's first penalty and West had a couple good bids, sending one wide and another through the crease, while Bishop stopped a couple of chances as well. Richard, Munck and Rivera had shorthanded bids for the Eagles before the penalty was killed off.

The Eagles got on the board just after the penalty expired, as Canavari flipped the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead, with Chris King getting the assist.

Just 23 seconds later, the Eagles struck again, with Chuckie Smith hitting his brother Dillon with a good pass, which the younger brother put home for a 2-0 lead.

Kennett continued to pressure and added a third goal with 7:11 to play in the game, as LaRusso fed Lee off a face-off and Lee put the puck home for a 3-0 lead.

Kennett continued to push on the offensive side, with Murphy, King, Dillon Smith, Richard and Chuckie Smith all making their mark on the offensive end.

The Blue Knights finally got on the board with 36 seconds to go in the period, pushing one past Bishop to cut the lead to 3-1 heading to the second period.

The Eagles struck early in the second period, as Murphy pushed the puck home with both Smith brothers picking up assists just 22 seconds into the period.

Massa, LaRusso and Lee continued the Kennett pressure and the Eagles got a power play with 13:36 to go. They needed just 11 seconds of power play time to pick up their fifth goal, as Rivera blasted the puck from the blue line with Lee and Dillon Smith getting the assists.

The Smith boys continued to pressure the net, joined by Murphy and Spoor but they couldn't put another one through right away.

Kennett got another power play with 10:14 to go and this time needed just six seconds to light the lamp, with King sending in a shot off the face-off for a 6-1 lead.

With 9:01 to play, Dillon Smith put a shot on net and Murphy was on the doorstep to tap the puck home. Spoor also got an assist, making it 7-1.

The Eagles battled back and forth the rest of the period, with Dillon Smith, Murphy, Richard, Lee and Chuckie Smith getting scoring bids, while Bishop made a couple of saves at the other end. The period drew to a close with Kennett leading 7-1.

The Eagles got a two-minute power play to start the third, but couldn't convert. West also had a shorthanded bid sail wide.

With 11:35 to play, Rivera sent a shot in that Richard tipped home for an 8-1 lead, with Massa also getting an assist.

Just 2:35 later, Murphy picked up his 100th career point, driving home a rebound of a Spoor shot for his third goal of the game and a 9-1 lead and the Eagles just played out the running time the rest of the way.

"I think this shows what we're doing as a team," said Lane of his squad's ability to stay out of trouble while West players were shooting off at the mouth the entire game. "Those are difficult circumstances to play under, I'm proud of the way the kids played."

Lane also praised the officials for doing a good job keeping the game under control on a night when things looked to be heading out of control quickly.

LaRusso suffered a season-ending injury in the second period and Lane praised King for stepping up from his defensive spot to fill the hole and he did the same thing against Con-Val two nights later.

"Chris took one for the team at the beginning of the season," said Lane of the decision to move him from forward to defense. "He did it and he hasn't complained. We rewarded him tonight and he did a good job filling in.

"He's been a man of many trades this year," Lane continued. "He's kind of one of the unsung heroes of this team."

With the wins, the Eagles clinched the third seed in the Division III playoffs, facing them off against Hollis-Brookline at Ham Arena Saturday night.

"It's really important in the week to keep high intensity practices and keep focused," Lane said. "This is what we've been working toward all season."

The Eagles and Cavaliers will face off at 7:45 p.m. at Ham Arena on Saturday, March 5. The semifinals are at 5:30 p.m. at Everett Arena in Concord on Wednesday, March 9.

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