From the campus of St. Anselm College –
Thanks to mother nature, the Goffstown High School Grizzlies hockey team opened the 2017-2018 hockey season at home, with a 3-1 win over the visiting Portsmouth-Newmarket Clipper Mules. Not much came easy for the home team, as Portsmouth-Newmarket (Ports-New) was feisty, and challenged every chance that they could.
The season was supposed to start at the Whittemore Center on Tuesday night, but snow and ice caused that game to be postponed until Monday night the 18th of December. So, without any complaints, the Grizzlies got to open the season on home ice. Last season Goffstown opened at Portsmouth and skated away with a 4-3 thrilling win in overtime. This season things went a little bit different.
This game was not one that most folks would describe as aesthetically pleasing.
It was a grind, if not a bit choppy, with little rhythm or flow. In attempting to get to the root cause of the appearance during play, it may have had something to do with some opening night nerves. Or maybe it was some kind of early in the season trying to figure out the different nuances of many moving parts found in playing team sports. Likely though, it had more to do with the teams that played the contest. Portsmouth-Newmarket fell behind early but never quit, and never went away. Right to the final whistle, they were very much in this game.
It took just 11 seconds for the Grizzlies to get on the scoreboard. After the opening face off, Griffin Cook got the puck to offensive minded defenseman, Colin Burke. Burke carried the puck up the left-wing and then moved the puck across the low slot with a pass to Sebastian Beal. Beal promptly put the season’s first goal in the back of the net. Over the balance of the 1st period, Goffstown carried the play for the most part. Goffstown’s goaltender, Madeline Sage (Freshman), made a couple of big and timely saves to rescue her team from defensive miscues. The Grizzlies would not score again in the opening period despite building a 13 to 5 shots on goal advantage.
It didn’t take too long to see that the 1st intermission was a turning point for the visitors from Portsmouth-Newmarket. As time would tell, the Grizzlies would only muster 13 more shots over the final two periods, as Ports-New clamped down on defense and cranked up the forecheck. Just 2:12 into the middle stanza, Fred Holmes stepped up the pressure, stole the puck, and walked in from the right-wing boards to rip a low wrist shot that beat Madeline Sage in Goffstown’s net. Fortunately for Sage and the Grizzlies, the shot clanked off of the far post and caromed harmlessly away. A little more than a minute later the CBC line (Charron-Beal-Cook) struck again. Sebastian Beal had a couple of short range shots on goal, one of which hit Brad Weit off of the side of his mask, before Noah Charron pounced on a bouncing puck from the rebound. Charron lifted a backhand shot over the sprawling Weit into the back of the Clipper Mules net. Goffstown led 2-0 at the time. The visitors would get the next goal, cutting the lead to 2-1. Andrew Madden got the puck to Andrew Weeks who stepped through a defender, and then around Colin Burke before beating Sage inside the far side post with his first goal of the season. Weeks’ goal came at 11:38 of the second period, and the game was a one-goal game again. Before the period ended, Noah Charron scored his second goal of the period on a feed from Colin Burke. The second period came to a close and Goffstown was in the lead, 3-1.
The third period was tight, as in, not a lot of space to create offensive plays. Neither team scored in the final period, but that wasn’t because nobody could get an offensive chance. There weren’t many chances for either side, but there were still a couple of good ones. Ports-New had a great chance when a cross-crease pass found Luke Squire of the Clipper Mules wide open with half a net to shoot at, but he could not get his stick on the puck. Almost halfway through the period, Goffstown’s Grady Chretien was back-checking and helping on defense in front of Sage. As he controlled the puck, he made a half spin to send a pass over to Grizzlie defenseman Brett Lassonde in order to relieve the pressure and get the puck out of the defensive end. To Chretien’s surprise, the pass never made it to Lassonde as David Blodgett picked off the pass right in the slot and snapped a quick shot, point-blank, at Madeline Sage in net. Sage made a huge save and kept the Grizzlies lead at two goals. Late in the final period, while the Grizzlies were on the power play with a chance to put the game away, but they missed a golden opportunity to score. First, Max Lajeunesse made a nice, tight, curl off of the left-wing boards with the puck. He dished the puck to Sebastian Beal who was manning the left point. Beal took a step toward the middle of the ice, and everyone was looking for a shot. Instead, Beal slid a beautiful pass past two defenders, down low to Griffin Cook inside the right-wing face off dot. Cook gathered the puck but was unable to get the shot past Brad Weit in goal. The period, and game, ended with the Grizzlies clinging to a 3-1 win. Goffstown would end with an overall, 26-13 advantage in shots on goal for the game. Theo Milanes, Jacob Noonan, and Griffin Cook each took minor penalties for the Grizzlies during the game, but both teams ended up going 0-for-3 on their respective power plays.
Being the only NHIAA Hockey game in NH, the Goffstown vs. Portsmouth-Newmarket game drew some media attention. Both WMUR TV and the New Hampshire Union Leader were in attendance and covering the game. The game made the 11 o’clock news (click the link to watch the video clip). This morning’s newspaper also had coverage of the Grizzlies opening night win. Click on these next two links to see coverage from the New Hampshire Union Leader today. Article and Photo of Noah Charron and Brad Weit and Madeline Sage – Ryan Kane photo
Goffstown stays home and will host Lebanon-Stevens at 12:45pm at Sullivan Arena on Saturday afternoon. Lebanon-Stevens lost their opening game, 6-0 to Windham. The last several contests between these two teams have been tight, and often times the game has come down to the closing minutes, or overtime. It should be a good early season battle.
Portsmouth-Newmarket (0-1) @ Goffstown (1-0)
Sullivan Arena, St. A’s, Goffstown, NH
December 14, 2017. 7:15PM Start:
Portsmouth-Newmarket: 0-1-0 = 1
Goffstown: 1-2-0 = 3
Goffstown: 13-7-6 = 26
1st Goffstown at 0:11. Even. Sebastian Beal (1) from Colin Burke (1) and Griffin Cook (1).
2nd Portsmouth-Newmarket at 11:38. Even. Andrew Weeks from Andrew Madden.
2nd Goffstown at 14:00. Even. Noah Charron (2) from and Colin Burke (2).
3rd No Scoring
Portsmouth-Newmarket Power Play: 0 for 3.
Goffstown Power Play: 0 for 3.
Portsmouth-Newmarket: Brad Weit 23 of 26.
Goffstown: Madeline Sage 12 of 13.
For more photo coverage of the Goffstown vs. Portsmouth-Newmarket game, check out this link put together by Karen Charron.