Goalie Alex Conway looks on as teammate Max Desmarais tries to keep an Alvirne skater away from the net on March 7. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
March 12, 2012CONCORD – Despite a 41-27 edge in shots on goal, sixth-seeded Belmont-Gilford found itself standing in stunned silence as second-seeded Alvirne celebrated on the ice following the Division III semifinal game on March 7.
Cameron Brock dashed the state championship hopes for the Bulldogs, as the Alvirne senior scored 1:23 into overtime on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line to send the Broncos through to the title game with a 4-3 win at Everett Arena.
"It's a really tough way to lose," said dejected B-G coach Jay Londer. "We had the momentum. We were getting stops. We got good chances to score in overtime. And they come down and shoot one from the blue line, and it goes in."
With the teams knotted at 3-3 at the start of OT, B-G (11-8) grabbed the first scoring chance of the extra frame. Senior forward Steven Hickey got past a defender and ripped a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and out of play into the netting. The officials didn't see it that way however, as the puck landed back on the ice and no whistles were blown to stop action. Alvirne hurried up the ice with possession, and Brock snuck his shot past B-G goalie Alex Conway while his team was on a line change to send the Broncos onto the finals.
"I told the guys that the game was going to end within the first three minutes (of overtime) or it was going to go on forever," said Londer. "But I really thought it was going to end quickly. I just thought it would be a different result, especially with the way we had been playing."
B-G trailed 3-1 entering the third period, and as the clock ticked away, each scoring chance became that much more important for the Bulldogs. The squad finally cashed in with 8:59 left in regulation, as junior forward Jeremy D'Amour, he of the game-winner in overtime of the quarterfinal fame, cut into the deficit on a goal that would be clouded in controversy to make it a 3-2 game. D'Amour deked past an Alvirne defender and roofed a shot over the shoulder of goalkeeper Justin Ferguson. While the puck seemed to hit something and pop back out, the referee immediately ruled it a goal despite arguments to the contrary from the Bronco bench.
"The ref pointed so I celebrated," said a smiling D'Amour of the tally. "(The referee) won't call it back so if he points, you're going with it. You just sell it the best that you can."
The strike invigorated the Bulldogs bench, and B-G looked like a team possessed the rest of the period. The 'Dogs had two power play opportunities that Alvirne managed to kill off, but just as the second one expired, D'Amour sent the pro-B-G crowd into a frenzy with just 1:11 remaining. The sniper moved the puck across to the middle of his offensive zone, and fired a shot to the near post with a defender serving as a screen. The puck had eyes for the back of the net, tying the game at 3-3 and causing D'Amour to take part in a lengthy celebration as his teammates mobbed him.
"I felt pretty confident up two goals but with all that speed they have over there with D'Amour and (Ryan) Davis, they had us in trouble late in the game," admitted Alvirne coach Brian Gould. "When we were up 3-1, I was able to run three lines out there and keep guys fresh. But when they cut it to one goal, we shortened things up the rest of the way."
Neither team scored over the final minute of regulation, as Alvirne tried to regroup in the locker room heading into the extra period.
"I went in and said, 'they took your momentum away, it's up to you to come out flying and get it back," Gould said of his speech during intermission.
The Broncos responded, as Brock scored his team's biggest goal of the season, beating Conway to send Alvirne to the championship game and a meeting with top-seeded Kennett.
"It wasn't his fault," said D'Amour of Conway. "It was a perfect shot from what I could see, right on the inside of the post. It was a beautiful shot so there's no way you can blame that on anyone."
Alvirne scored all three of its regulation goals in the second period, building a 2-1 lead before Davis put B-G on the board with 8:30 left in the second. The Belmont senior intercepted a puck near mid-ice and took off while his team was on the penalty kill. Davis beat Ferguson on the breakaway, despite a delayed penalty being called against Alvirne on the play.
Ferguson was solid all night for the Broncos however, as the freshman goalie used a quick glove to snuff out countless B-G shots. The young backstop made 38 saves in his first state semifinal.
"They outplayed us," admitted Gould of B-G. "But I gave (Ferguson) the star of the game. Without him, we wouldn't have been there at the end of the game with a chance to win."