GOALIE SHAWN GOGGIN gets his skate out to make a save during action at St. Anselm against Bedford on Saturday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 19, 2011GOFFSTOWN — There probably isn't a team in New Hampshire that had as rough an opening week as the Kingswood hockey team.
The Knights dropped a 2-0 decision to Keene on Wednesday, Dec. 14, and fell to Bedford by a 6-0 score on Saturday, Dec. 17, at St. Anselm College.
But what happened in between is even tougher to take.
At practice on Thursday, veteran coach Fred Antonucci was knocked to the ice in a freak accident and had to be taken to the hospital. Antonucci was taken from Huggins to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, where he remained on Saturday.
Assistant coaches Steve Hale and Kurt DeVylder patrolled the bench for the Knights.
"Coach is a great inspiration to all of us," Hale said. "We can't replace him."
Bedford came out skating strong on their home ice on Saturday and for a short period in the first, the Knights were able to match that, getting the puck back in the offensive end a few times, but they couldn't manage to get a shot on net.
Kingswood took the game's first penalty with 12:19 to go, but good work from Chris Pollini and Alex Boucher and a couple of saves from keeper Shawn Goggin kept Bedford off the board.
However, it didn't take the Bulldogs long after the penalty ended to get on the board, as the hosts scored from the top of the faceoff circle with 9:39 to play for a 1-0 lead.
Kingswood took another penalty with less than eight minutes to go, but CJ Sirrell and Lucas Bonenfant did a good job on the penalty kill, even generating a shorthanded bid and Goggin again came up with a couple of big saves.
However, with 5:12 to go in the first, Bedford beat Goggin low to the stick side for the 2-0 lead.
Kingswood seemed to come to life in the final minutes of the period, as the Knights had numerous chances in the offensive zone, with Sirrell, Bonenfant, Boucher, Pollini, James Ellis and Brad Riley all getting great looks at the net, but the period came to a close with Bedford still holding the 2-0 lead.
The second period things went much more Kingswood's way, but the Knights still struggled to find the back of the net.
Riley, Boucher, Sirrell and Ellis all had great looks in the first few minutes of the second, seemingly carrying over the momentum from the end of the first period. Matt Mitchell also had a shot from the point that was tipped wide as Kingswood tried to get on the board.
Goggin also turned a couple of bids away, but the Knights controlled much of the offense in the early going.
Kingswood got its first power play with 8:44 to go and Pollini, Ellis and Boucher charged in on net and had the goalie down, but the puck wouldn't go in the net. Bonenfant also had a bid saved before the power play ended.
Boucher and Riley had more chances in the closing minutes of the period, but Bedford didn't back down and finally got some great pressure, forcing Goggin to make a number of beautiful saves before finally putting one in top shelf for a 3-0 lead with 1:11 to go in the second.
The Knights took a penalty in the closing seconds of the second and got a nice penalty kill from Josh Grasso and a couple of saves from Goggin to escape the power play.
Goggin turned away four shots in a row before Bedford finally got back on the board for a 4-0 lead with 10:43 to play. Boucher, Riley, Bonenfant and Luke French had good bids in the final minutes, but couldn't convert and Bedford put one in with 6:05 to go and another with just more than two minutes to play to finish out the scoring.
Goggin finished with 27 saves on the night.
Hale noted that the Knights had 11 shots on goal in the second period, which was certainly their strongest period of play.
"One thing I was pleased with was when we got to the red line we got the puck in the zone," Hale said. "We weren't losing the puck at the blue line, which was a problem in the first game."
Hale admitted that it was disappointing to see the six on the scoreboard, but said Bedford is expected to be a contender this year and they have some skill.
"I would like to get more shots and crash the net more," Hale said. "All those things we know we can do, we just have to focus on doing them better.
"We're not going to change what we're working on, but we might change the way we work on it," he added.
Kingswood was off after Bedford until the Exeter Holiday Tournament. They play St. Thomas at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 26, Exeter at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, and Winnacunnet on Thursday, Dec. 28, at 6 p.m. The next regular season game is Wednesday, Jan. 4, at home against Lebanon at 7 p.m.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126