Jeremy D’Amour fakes out the Pelham-Windham goalie for his first of four goals in Belmont-Gilford’s overtime win Saturday. Randy Booth - The Citizen. (click for larger version)
March 05, 2012SALEM – It didn't surprise Jay Londer that Jeremy D'Amour scored his team's biggest goal of the season.
The junior forward scored on a breakaway just 1:04 into overtime on March 3, sending the sixth-seeded Belmont-Gilford hockey team past third-seeded Pelham-Windham, 7-6, in a wild Division III quarterfinal game at the ICenter.
The win sent the Bulldogs through to their second semifinal trip in three years, where B-G was scheduled to meet second-seeded Alvirne after deadline on Wednesday, March 7.
"We kind of got the word that there were going to be 500 people or so at the game, and my thoughts on that was the stars are going to shine under the spotlight," said Londer, whose team improved to 11-7 with the win. "(D'Amour) was burying the puck in practice all week and he rose to the occasion. He really worked on finishing the puck the last couple of weeks and it showed."
D'Amour wound up with four goals on the night in a wild back-and-forth affair that saw 21 penalties called and 13 goals scored.
"I've never been involved in a game like this…it was wild," Londer said. "There weren't 30 seconds that went by where you weren't on the edge of your seat. I'm standing up the whole game, but I can't imagine many people were sitting down watching that. There was either a goal, penalty, something happening at all times."
It was very close to being a crushing defeat for the Bulldogs, as P-W took a 6-5 lead on a goal with 1:04 left in the third period.
"Thought might be dead in the water," said Londer of the P-W goal. "Our first line was out there when they scored and we were coming back with our second line, guys I know still had legs. I told them, 'you guys are working hard, you're doing good things. Let's just think about scoring here."
B-G's second line responded, as Tevin Mitchell took a feed from Mike Lembo and saved the day with the game-tying tally with just 31.2 seconds remaining in regulation. The strike gave the 'Dogs new life, and the teams headed to overtime even at 6-6.
"For Tev to be the guy that scored that goal is huge," Londer said. "He's the hardest working kid on the team, you can't say enough about that kid. For him to cash in there and tie it was awesome."
With his team regrouping before the start of the extra session, Londer told his squad they needed to strike early in OT. B-G skated just two lines compared to three for P-W, and the legs got heavier and heavier as the night wore on.
"We were getting tired even before overtime came," the coach explained. "I just told them to dig deep, and remember that feeling we had after the playoff game against them last year. How we wanted one more game, one more period, one more shift to be able to keep playing."
With the sting of last year's loss in the quarterfinals to P-W in the back of their minds, the Bulldogs wasted little time setting off a wild celebration. Brogan Hurst tossed the puck up the middle of the ice from his spot on defense, and D'Amour jumped on it, getting ahead of two P-W defenders and breaking in on goal. The forward buried it over the goalkeeper's glove with a beautiful finish, bringing the game to an end just 1:04 into overtime.
"Jeremy got banged up late in the third period and we didn't know if he was going to go back in or not," Londer said. "He didn't go out on that first shift of overtime but we just told him, use your legs and hopefully we can hold them off and finish this thing quickly. Within 15 or 20 seconds of him being on the ice, he scored."
The score was tied after all three periods before OT, as it was 1-1 after one, 3-3 after two and 6-6 after three. With the third period featuring six goals between the two teams, Londer didn't expect the proceedings to last very long in the extra frame.
"I knew it was going to come quick," he said. "Just one of those games that was so back and forth, kids were finding the net. There were a bunch of power plays so I told the kids we had to stay out of the box (in overtime). Don't think just because it's overtime, the refs aren't going to call something."
Ryan Davis and Tom Kuntz also scored goals for the Bulldogs, while Steven Hickey chipped in a pair of assists in the win.
It was a similar game compared to the last time the two teams met on Feb. 18, as P-W escaped Laconia Ice Arena with a 6-5 victory late in the regular season.
"We knew what it was going to be when we went down there, knew it was going to be a battle," Londer said. "They're a very, very good team…ton of skill, very deep. They had us on the ropes all night. I think they had a big advantage playing at home in front of a large crowd with a huge ice sheet. But them knocking us out last year, it was a little bit of revenge to be able to get the win this time around."