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High five

Eagles battle their way to fifth consecutive Division III title game

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

CAPTAIN KEVIN MURPHY celebrates his goal during action against Hollis-Brookline in the Division III semifinals Wednesday in Concord. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 07, 2012
CONCORD — Kennett hockey coach Mike Lane might have preferred a little bit more of a cushion in Wednesday night's semifinal tilt with Hollis-Brookline, but there was no doubt the fans in attendance got their money's worth.

The Eagles, drawing on their significant playoff experience, never wavered after playing through two periods tied at one, and got a huge goal from Connor Todd with 4:38 to play and an empty net tally from Nick Massa to close out the 3-1 win, securing the Eagles their fifth trip to the Division III finals in the last five years.

"One of the things we have, that doesn't always show up in high school, is senior leadership," Lane said. "When we needed it tonight, it was there."

Senior captain Kevin Murphy scored the game's first goal, connecting with just 40 seconds gone in the second period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead, but Hollis-Brookline battled back, scoring with just less than five minutes gone in the period to tie the game at one.

The teams played with that 1-1 tie, with Kennett keeper John Bishop making some solid saves, but Todd capitalized on a run of Eagle pressure in front of the Cavalier net, poking the puck home for the 2-1 lead with just more than four and a half minutes to play in the game.

The Cavaliers pulled the goalie for the final minute plus to get an extra attacker and Massa sealed the win with 22 seconds to play.

"I couldn't be prouder of my kids," Lane said. "They controlled themselves and stuck to the game plan.

"We stole one down there (H-B) but we won one tonight," he continued. "We earned this one tonight."

Kennett will now face off with second-seeded Alvirne, 4-3 winners in overtime against Belmont-Gilford in the other semifinal matchup, on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.

Tickets for the game can be purchased in advance at the Kennett High School office up until noon on Friday.

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