Defenseman Riley Tebbetts readies for a wrist shot during B-Gís 11-6 loss to Kennett on Feb. 1. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
February 06, 2012LACONIA Ė It's tough to win when you allow 11 goals on the night. It's nearly impossible to win when you allow 11 goals to an undefeated team.
That's exactly the predicament the Belmont-Gilford hockey team found itself in on Feb. 1, as the Bulldogs had unbeaten Kennett High School on the ropes for the first two periods but couldn't hold on in a rough final stanza that led to an 11-6 loss in a highly-anticipated Division III contest at Laconia Ice Arena.
"You see where the top of the mountain is," explained B-G head coach Jay Londer referring to Kennett. "It's a loss but they're the top team for a reason. You want to be number one, you've got to go through them."
If you're a fan of offense, you were in the right place for this one as the goals came fast and furious all night long.
The Bulldogs (7-4) showed why they have the potential to make a deep postseason run early in the first period, as Steven Hickey fired a shot on Kennett goalkeeper John Bishop and the puck hit his shoulder pad before trickling into the net to put B-G up 1-0 with 11:57 left.
The lead grew to 2-0 thanks to Ryan Davis, as the senior forward backhanded a loose puck in front of the Kennett net past Bishop just over a minute later, with an assist coming from Tevin Mitchell.
The Bulldogs were dominating the opening period, and Jeremy D'Amour made it 3-0 when he took a perfect pass from Will Mahoney who was stationed behind the Kennett net. D'Amour took his time, waiting for Bishop to commit, before finding the back of the net with 4:00 remaining.
But the Eagles (10-0) got on the board before the first intermission, with Anthony LaRusso making it a 3-1 game with 3:37 left when he beat B-G goalie Alex Conway.
After playing one of their best periods of the year, B-G struggled early in the second. Kennett scored the first two goals of the period to tie the game at 3-3, but the Bulldogs got the next two on strikes from Mike Lembo and D'Amour, the latter's goal coming on a highlight reel end-to-end tally that saw the junior forward finish despite being knocked down as he shot the puck to make it 5-3 B-G with 8:01 left in the second.
Kennett got two more to tie it again however, and the teams entered the third period all even at 5-5.
"Kennett woke up (after the first period), and we started going through the motions," admitted Londer. "They turned it up a notch, showed why they go to the finals every year. I thought we weren't going to let down but they're a great team, they flipped the switch on us."
The Eagles continued their momentum into the third period, as the visitors got the first two goals of the final stanza to take a 7-5 lead with 10:52 lead. Hickey got B-G within 7-6 with 7:08 left when he took a pass from Davis and buried it. But Kennett scored the game's final four goals, with Justin Munck grabbing a hat trick in the process en route to the 11-6 victory.
"The simple fundamental things are what we lacked tonight," Londer said. "Not getting pucks out of the zone, letting them hold possession. The problems for us were that their third line comes out, and they can bang in a goal almost as easily as their top two lines. Our top line is out there working hard against their third line, then they switch up and their top line is rested and we can't run out the same depth that they did."
Hickey and D'Amour had two goals apiece to lead the Bulldogs offense, with Davis and Lembo getting the other tallies.
"If Hickey, other top guys like that can play like they did for the majority of the game, we'll be tough to beat going forward," said Londer. "I think we can replicate what we did in the first period for all three periods, I think we're capable. A lot of the upperclassmen were upbeat after the game and that's what we're looking for. Just keep plugging along moving forward."
The Bulldogs did manage to rebound in a big way on Feb. 4, knocking off Hollis-Brookline, 4-0, in a huge D-III victory. The win moved B-G up the standings into fifth place entering the week, just behind Hollis-Brookline in fourth.