Press Release: December 2, 2013
November 30: Kearsarge 0 @ Oyster River 4
With this past Sunday off, the Kearsarge Bantams only played one game last week. It was a road game out in Durham, played on Churchill Rink at Jackson Landing.
After I dropped my son and his equipment off outside the rink and the pavilion I figured I had some time to kill. So I drove a few feet further, down the hill towards the Oyster River. As I like to do, I looked to the sky. The late autumn sky was holding on to the last rays of daylight before giving way to a dark starlit sky. Before I returned up the hill I took note of a flock of geese headed south, honking along the way.
Back at the rink, the players from both teams were ready to play. The wind was calm, thankfully. The temperature was right around 30 degrees and the ice was prepped and ready. I noticed that in this 40-year-old rink that there was daylight showing between the ice and the bottom of the nets, but not enough space for a puck to escape. Let’s get on to the game.
Early on, both teams showed signs of offensive pressure, with Kearsarge holding a slight edge in sustained pressure and possession in the offensive end. But, similar to their opening game, the shots they manage were blocked, redirected to one side of the net or the other, or just missed the net. For all the pressure and team play, few chances required Oyster River’s goaltender to make a save. The first period would end scoreless, with Kearsarge getting the better of the chances.
In the second period, the short bench, lack of finishing on scoring chances, and the depth of Oyster River’s combination of players added from their top Bantam team started to take its toll. Half way through the period the home team finally succeeded in getting a puck behind goaltender Corey Henault. The period would end with Kearsarge hanging in there, but trailing 1-0.
The final period continued in favor of the home team. Henault made several nice stops but as the period wore on that would change. Like the geese I saw pre-game, the second half of period three turned south for the visitors. Oyster River finished with a 4-0 win despite Kearsarge playing hard right to the final whistle.
There are many benefits to being associated with youth hockey. The most telling, from my experience, is the unity of family that seems only to function at this level in hockey. Almost understood, from a brief locker room comment, was the attendance of nearly every player, multiple sets of parents, with siblings to match, at a local pizza place down the street from the rink. As the players filed into the establishment with their families, two things struck me. One, the coach thanked players and families for being there, at the game, and at the restaurant. Two, the players called out each other’s names welcoming them as they came in, like they were distinguished guests at a dinner in their honor. Then again, it is about the kids, and none of us would have been there without the youth all around us, the ones we hold so dear. Actually, there was a third thing I noticed; if you were a stranger sitting in a nearby booth, watching this parade of families enter, you would have thought for sure that this team had won whatever contest they had just come from. In truth, we all sat down, “broke bread together” (stealing a quote heard at my table), and we all won, just in the practicing of sincere fellowship.