'Toppers topple Eagles in title tilt
Kennett hockey team comes up short in championship game
|CAPTAINS (l to r) Kevin Murphy, Logan Spoor and Chuckie Smith pose with coaches (l to r) Justin Frechette, Mike Lane and Peter Hall and the Division III runner-up plaque after Sunday’s title game in Manchester. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
March 14, 2011MANCHESTER — There was one moment in Sunday's Division III championship game when Kennett hockey coach Mike Lane knew it wouldn't be his team's day.
With two ticks under five minutes left in the first period, the Eagles scored their first goal, cutting a two-goal Somersworth lead in half and seemingly grabbing momentum.
Just 33 seconds later, the 'Toppers rifled a shot from the blue line that appeared destined to soar quite wide of the net.
Instead, the puck hit off a player's glove and ticked past Kennett goalie Jonny Parkhurst for a 3-1 Somersworth lead and the end of Kennett's momentum.
"I had a perfect view," said Lane. "That shot was going wide."
Somersworth rode that early lead to an 8-3 win over the Eagles, ending Kennett's two-year reign at the top of Division II.
"When we reflect back on it, it certainly goes down as a successful season," Lane said. "But it's hard to tell then that in the locker room.
"From a hockey standpoint, we're a better team than what was on the ice," he continued. "Some days it's just not our day."
The undefeated 'Toppers came out of the gate on fire, peppering Parkhurst with shots in the early part of the game, but the Eagle keeper held his ground.
Somersworth got on the board just 5:08 into the game, as Petter Bulling skated into the zone with Eagle defenseman Chris King draped all over him and still managed to put the shot in the net for the 1-0 lead.
Kennett finally got some offensive bids, with Justin Munck and Matt Kelly putting shots on net, but they couldn't get anything past Somersworth goalie Peter Robertson.
Kennett took a penalty with 8:25 to go in the first period and Parkhurst made a couple of big saves, but with 7:03 to play, one of those saves bounced out in front and the rebound was drilled home by Steve Wolf to give Somersworth a 2-0 lead.
Kennett came back just two minutes later, as Gabe Lee lit the lamp at the other end on an assist from Nick Massa, bringing the Eagles to within one and bringing the Kennett crowd to life.
However, the momentum was short-lived for the Eagles, as the 'Toppers scored the goal off the glove just 33 seconds later, with Austin Siering getting the tally and Somersworth had a 3-1 lead with 4:25 to play in the first period.
Kennett had its chances in the final few minutes, with Dillon Smith getting a couple of bids. The Eagles also got a power play in the last 55 seconds, but still ended the period trailing 3-1.
Kennett opened the second on the power play and Smith and Kevin Murphy put the pressure on. Somersworth also had a shorthanded bid that Parkhurst turned away and the power play was killed off.
The Eagles took another penalty just 1:37 into the frame. Somersworth pressured, but Parkhurst didn't bend and the Eagles killed off the penalty.
The defending champs went on the power play with 11:04 to go in the period and Smith and Murphy were both turned away by Robertson. The power play only lasted a minute, as the Eagles took a penalty with 10:05 to go and then another with 9:37 to play, giving Somersworth a four-on-three advantage for 34 seconds and then a five-on-three advantage for a minute.
Parkhurst made a couple of saves, but the 'Toppers strung together a couple of beautiful passes to push the lead to 4-1 with 8:42 to go. Wolf got the goal for Somersworth.
The 'Toppers still had 1:05 of power play left and then found themselves in another five-on-three advantage for 38 seconds as the Eagles took another penalty.
Parkhurst came up big, turning away a couple of shots and Connor Todd and Murphy had shorthanded bids as one penalty ticked off the clock.
However, before the next penalty could expire, Kennett found itself down two men again, this time for 17 seconds with 6:31 to play. Parkhurst made a big save and the penalty was killed off.
Somersworth was finally sent to the box with 5:50 to go in the period and the teams skated four-on-four for 1:20. Logan Spoor and Chuckie Smith had chances for Kennett but were denied.
The two teams continued to exchange penalties, with Parkhurst doing his job and Chuckie Smith and Murphy trying to put something past Robertson at the other end.
When all the penalties finally expired, Somersworth dominated the final minutes of the period, putting numerous shots on Parkhurst, which he calmly turned away and kept the Eagles in the game, trailing 4-1 after two periods.
"The penalties both ways took the flow out of the game," Lane said. "We couldn't get into our game plan."
After two periods, the 'Toppers were outshooting the Eagles 30-12 and they didn't let up in the third period.
Parkhurst made seven saves right out of the gate for the Eagles in the final frame, including a couple of glove saves and another on a breakaway. Murphy and Munck were denied at the other end on a scoring chance.
Somersworth broke through again with 8:58 to play, as Bulling went top shelf to push the lead to 5-1.
With 8:27 to go, Kennett got a power play and Chuckie Smith and Spoor were turned away on scoring bids.
However, with 7:23 to go, Kelly, who had returned from an injury suffered in the second period, sent a shot on net from the point and Munck was there to tip it home, cutting the lead to 5-2. Todd also assisted on the power play tally.
Somersworth answered right back, netting goal number six on a two-on-one breakaway, with Jaret Canney netting the goal with 6:03 to play.
The Eagles got a good penalty kill from Cody Richard and Massa and more stellar saves from Parkhurst as they continued to fight into the final five minutes.
Parkhurst made a big save with 3:08 to play, but the rebound came out front and was tapped home for a 7-2 lead.
King got Kennett on the board again with 2:23 to go, poking the puck home on assists from Lee and Massa.
However, the 'Toppers scored the game's final goal with one minute to play, closing out the 8-3 win.
Lane noted that the Eagles had to take chances in the third period to make things happen and it didn't pay off.
"In the third, we had to take so many chances to make things happen," he said. "I told the kids, we're going down in a blaze of glory. We told the defense to take chances and they did and whenever one of those chances backfired, (Somersworth) capitalized."
Lane was a bit surprised that the Eagles came out a bit nervous, given the fact that they had the experience of playing on the Verizon Wireless ice the past few years, while Somersworth was making its first appearance in the title game.
"For some reason we played as a nervous team," Lane said. "I give them credit for making us that way."
Lane also had nothing but praise for Parkhurst, who stood on his head for much of the contest.
"I can't say enough good things about that kid," the Eagle coach said. "He played a phenomenal game."
Kennett finished the regular season at 13-3-1 and beat Hollis-Brookline and Alvirne in the first two round of the playoffs. Of their four losses on the season, three came at the hands of the 'Toppers.