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Championship Sunday

KUA Wins Third Straight Elite 8 Crown, Edging Salisbury, 4-3
Paul Dore's Last-Minute Goal Wins It


#1 Salisbury vs. #2 KUA. Sunday, March 3, 2019, 5:00 pm
At St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH

Kimball Union Academy junior forward Paul Dore fired a high slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle with 58 seconds left to give the Wildcats a 4-3 win over Salisbury and its third straight Elite 8 crown Sunday.

"We honestly feel really fortunate to have come out on top today," said KUA head coach Tim Whitehead, in the midst of a celebratory group of Wildcats' players and supporters after the game. "I've been in enough of these games to know it obviously could have gone either way. You just hope you get the last bounce. We got a bounce in the neutral zone, and it ended up on Paul's stick. We always work on our wrist shots, but every once in a while you gotta let it rip. There was nothing the goalie could do. It was an absolute missile top corner."

KUA's three consecutive titles match only one other school in the tournament's history: Salisbury, in 2013-'14-'15.

Salisbury broke the ice on a Michael Fairfax goal at 12:42 of the first, converting off a pair of nice passes from Ilya Usau and Dean Baucherio to take a 1-0 lead.

The game revved up in the second, with Lucas Mercuri converting a Nick Capone rebound on a play that started from behind the net to put Salisbury up, 2-0, at 7:27.

A couple of minutes later, senior Arlo Merritt got one back for KUA on an unassisted goal, blocking a shot in his end and flying down the left side before wristing one high, beating Salisbury goalie Jared Levine top shelf to bring the Wildcats within one at 2-1.

"That was huge," Whitehead said. "He blocks a shot, then goes down and roofs it. It came at the end of a shift. He was exhausted. Just to have the poise to be able do that when you're tired. That was a big-time goal."

KUA was back in the game, but a couple of minutes later, Mercuri, with his second goal off a nice assist from Justin Hryckowian put Salisbury back up by two, 3-1, with about six minutes left in the period.

Again, KUA answered, as senior Tomas Mazura's backdoor pass attempt appeared to go off a Salisbury defenseman's  skate at 14:07. Suddenly, it was a one-goal game. 

But a slashing call against KUA defenseman Teddy Griffin at 16:58 meant that Salisbury, with its armada of sharp-shooting forwards, was going on the power play in an attempt to extend its lead back to two goals and head into the second intermission in prime position to win back the title that has eluded them since 2015.

Instead, KUA's Zach Taylor scoring a shot-handed goal to tie the game at 3-3, ripping a shot from the slot with 38 seconds left in the frame.

"That was Sullivan Mack on the forecheck," Whitehead said. "Playing short-handed, he escaped three different guys down there before passing it to Zach Taylor, who just ripped it."

The third period started out brand-new at 3-3, but early on was filled with a lot of careful back-and-forth play. As the period passed the halfway point, the two teams picked it up a notch, increasingly making plays, getting scoring chances, and forcing both goalies -- Salisbury's Levine and KUA junior Veeti Kohvakka -- to come up with crucial saves.

The game looked like it was heading to overtime -- it had that feel of inevitability to it -- when, with 52 seconds left in the period, Dore picked up that loose puck in center ice, broke over the blue line and teed it up. The last bounce. A shot to remember. Championship, KUA.

Time to celebrate.

"The best part of this year was the journey," Whitehead said. "We were a little worried early in the season. We were taking a lot of penalties. We were trying to force things that weren't there. We were playing a little individually. The Flood-Marr was kind of tough. But it was good. We had to go through that. At the Nichols Tournament it all came together. And then to see that progress in the second half was a lot of fun."

Salisbury coach Andrew Will said, "I feel badly for the kids. It was a heck of a year for us. And the leadership that our seniors showed. Clay Korpi. Luke Krys. And Jared Levine -- the way he carried us through the playoffs after a tough start to his year. We had 17 new kids on our team this year. And to come within a goal of the New England championship?"

"Nobody's enjoying it right now," Will added. "But it was a heck of a year."

***

Kent Strikes Late, Gets Past Cushing, 2-1
Lions Win Large School Championship


#4 Kent 2, #7 Cushing 1. Sunday, March 3, 2019, 2:30 pm 
At St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH

In an action-packed third period, Kent junior Aidan Cobb and senior Alex Giummo scored 11 seconds apart to lead the Lions to the Large School Championship with a 2-1 win over Cushing. Cushing's Nick Cafarelli cut it to 2-1 several minutes later, but the Penguins couldn't get the equalizer as Kent senior goalie Alex Contey held the fort.

This game started quietly -- it was 0-0 after one. In the second, things picked up considerably, with the ice opening up and play becoming increasingly physical. Kent had a 5x3 power play that Cushing killed, and both teams got some quality scoring chances. Kent had the better opportunities, but Cushing senior goaltender Joey Sharib had an excellent period, with 10-bell saves on Kent's Alex Laferriere and Jason Kleinhans.

In the third, Kent finally broke the 0-0 tie when, on the power play, Aidan Cobb tipped home a shot from Kleinhans at the 7:35 mark. Dane Dowiak made a nice pass to get it to Kleinhans, who was playing with a separated shoulder suffered in the first period of the Saturday's semifinal at Deerfield. Eleven seconds later, at 7:46, senior defenseman Ian Pierce's shot from the left point hit Sharib, but Giummo was there to knock home the rebound for a 2-0 Kent lead. 

There was still plenty of time remaining and, a few minutes later, with the teams skating 4x4, Cushing junior Nick Cafarelli scored on a rebound of a Brad Zona shot to cut Kent's lead to 2-1 at the 11:04 mark, The Penguins turned up the pressure. An offensive zone penalty assessed to Cushing forward Jacob Banks with 5:47 left gave Kent a power play and peeled a couple of minutes off Cushing's comeback attempt. Kent's Pierce was called for boarding at 14:27 and Cushing called a time out. The Penguins, however, were unable to score on their opportunities, the game ending with a Cushing 6x4 power play that created some frenetic action around the Kent net. The Penguins' Jake Hewitt had some open net to shoot at, but it was blocked in front.

"The last few minutes were wild," said Kent head coach Dale Reinhardt. "But our penalty killers have been awesome this year. 86½ percent on the PK. Michael Posma won a key faceoff. Matt Perryman blocked a shot. We knew it would not come easy. "

"All three of our captains (Giummo, Colin Cobb, and Finn McLain) were on the same line. That's our third group. All have been here three years. But to have that line step up and be the best line on the ice just showed what character guys they are. They developed the team's culture."

"The entire tourney was a wild ride," added Reinhardt. "(Saturday's) semifinal win (a 7-5 decision over Deerfield) was as emotional a game as I've been a part of. To have the maturity to come back after blowing a third period three-goal lead and win that game. And then to come out the next day and win the Large School Championship. I couldn't be happier,"

Kent was around .500 in late January, but finished the season with a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1). They appear to have caught lightning in a bottle, but there's more to it.

"Our schedule at the beginning of the year was a bear," Reinhardt said. We played Salisbury two times, we played Avon twice, we played Gunnery twice, we played Exeter, Westminster. We had leads in a lot of those games so I had a feeling we were a better team than our record showed."

No argument here.

***
Rams' Third-Period Blitz Torpedos Holderness
Tilton Wins Small School Championship, 5-2


#1 Tilton 5 vs. #7 Holderness 2. Sunday, March 3, 2019, 12:00 pm
At St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH


Tilton, with three straight goals late in the third period, busted open a 1-1 game, and won the 2019 Small School Championship with a convincing 5-2 win over Lakes Region rival Holderness Sunday afternoon. 

After a stretch of play -- from the first period to deep into the third -- the two teams battled, but both goalies, Tilton's Owen Cuddyer (33/35) and Holderness's Connor Androlewicz (49/53) came up big, each allowing one first-period goal before settling in and shutting down the opposition through the second, and into the the third. 

Finally, with 6:45 left in regulation, Tilton's lanky junior defenseman, Jagger Benson, ripped a shot under the crossbar to give Tilton a 2-1 lead.

Then the game got a little crazy, with Tilton scoring two straight power play goals a mere 32 seconds apart to take a three-goal lead into the final four minutes of play.

On the first power play goal, Tilton forwards, from in tight, fired a couple of shots that rebounded off Androlewicz, before senior Brendan Sjostedt beat the Holderness netminder to make it 3-1 Tilton at 13:13.

Just 32 seconds later, with Tilton again on the power play -- penalties killed Holderness in this game -- Rams' junior Jack Seymour quickly capitalized to make it 4-1.

But Holderness didn't pack it in. Just 35 seconds after Tilton went up by three, the Rams took a penalty, and this time Holderness capitalized, senior Tanner Ensign scoring on a rebound to cut the Tilton lead to 4-2 at 15:25. Carter Rose and Tim Manning were credited with assists. But that was as close as the Bulls would get, as Sjostedt scored an unassisted empty-netter with 35 seconds left to play to put it away for Tilton. 

"I was really proud of our guys for sticking with it when it was 1-1 for a long while," Tilton coach Brooks McQuade said. "We knew Holderness wasn't in that game by accident. That's a good team. They're well-coached. Their goalie played really well.  We had to hunt down pucks, and go hard each shift. That's our approach. Our kids were ultra-aggressive."

McQuade also pointed to PG goaltender Owen Cuddyer's work. "The more difficult the game is, the better he is," McQuade said. "He was sensational against Pomfret, St. Mark's, and today in the final. That confidence spreads through the whole team."

As for the scoring explosion late in the third, McQuade said, "Those power plays were a definite help, We just had to stick to our game plan, and be ready when we got some breaks."

"This was an excellent team win. We have a great group of kids, and we got great family support. My assistant and I were fortunate to be able to coach this group."

"This is so meaningful to the school," McQuade added. "We haven't been to the finals in 17 years, since 2002, when Mike Walsh won a D-II title. It was a totally new environment for us." 


 

Championship Sunday Scoreboard
March 3rd, 2019


-- At St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH:


Tilton Wins Small School Championship 
#1 Tilton 5 vs. #7 Holderness 2

Tilton, with 3 late third-period goals, busted open a 1-1 game, and won the 2019 Small School Championship with a convincing 5-2 win over Lakes Region rival Holderness here this afternoon. 

In the third, Tilton grabbed a 2-1 lead when d-man Jagger Benson, who usually shoots low from the point, pinched and ripped a shot under the crossbar at 11:16. Holderness goalie Connor Androlewicz had no chance. With Tilton on the PP,  they closed in and took several shots at Androlewicz, the last one, from senior Brendan Sjostedt beating the Holderness netminder to make it 3-1 Tilton at 13:13 of the third period. This was the GWG. Just 32 seconds later, again on the PP -- penalties killed Holderness in this game -- Jack Seymour quickly capitalized to make it 4-1. Holderness got a ray of hope when \]Tanner Ensign scored a PPG on a rebound to cut the Tilton lead to 4-2 at 15:25. Carter Rose and Tim Manning were credited with assists. But that was as closes as they could get, as Sjostedt scored an unassisted empty-netter with 35 seconds left to play.

Earlier, Tilton took a 1-0 lead on a Shawn Leslie goal 2:57 into the first period. Holderness sophomore D Carter Rose, from Sebastian Gingras, tied it up at 1-1 at 11:11.

There was no scoring in the second period.

Kent Takes Home Large School Championship
#4 Kent 2, #7 Cushing 1


Kent has won the Large School Championship with a 2-1 win over Cushing. In an action-packed third period, Kent got goals from Aidan Cobb and Alex Giummo seconds apart about 10 minutes in. Cushing's Nick Cafarelli cut it to 2-1, but the Penguins couldn't get the equalizer as Kent senior goalie Alex Contey held the fort.

This game started quietly -- it was 0-0 after one. In the second, things picked up considerably with the ice opening up, play becoming increasingly physical, a 5x3 PP for Kent, and both teams getting quality scoring chances. Kent had the better opportunities, but Cushing senior G Joey Sharib had an excellent period, with 10-bell saves on Kent's Alex Laferriere and Jason Kleinhans.

Kent broke the scoreless tie on an Aidan Cobb tip of a shot from senior D Ian Peirce at the left point at the 10:48 mark. Seconds later, Alex Giummo's shot hit Sharib, but somehow trickled over the goal line and into the net for the 2-0 lead.

A few minutes later, with 7:04 left, Cushing junior Nick Cafarelli cut Kent's lead to 2-1, and the Penguins turned up the pressure. An offensive zone penalty assessed to Cushing forward Jacob Banks with 5:47 left gave Kent a PP and peeled a couple minutes off Cushing's comeback attempt. Kent's Pierce was called for boarding at 14:27 and Cushing called a time out. They didn't score on their opportunities and the game ended with a Cushing PP that created some frenetic action around the Kent net. Jake Hewitt had some open net to shoot at, but it didn't get through, blocked in front. Great ending.

KUA Wins Third Straight Elite 8 Crown
Elite 8 Championship, 5:00 pm:
#1 Salisbury vs. #2 KUA -- KUA 4, Salisbury 3 (Final)     
Salisbury broke the ice on a Michael Fairfax goal at 12:42 of the first, converting off a pair of nice passes from Ilya Usau and Dean Baucherio to take a 1-0 lead. And that's where things stand. Second period will be starting in a few minutes.

Exciting 2nd period as Lucas Mercuri converted a Nick Capone rebound on a play that started from behind the net to put Salisbury up, 2-0. at 7:27. Arlo Merritt got one back for KU on an unassisted goal, picking the puck up in his end and flying down the left side before wristing one high off Salisbury goalie Jared Levine at 9:47 to bring the Wildcats within one at 2-1. Mercuri, with his second goal off a nice assist from Justin Hryckowian put Salisbury back up by 2 goals, 3-1, with about six minutes left in the period. KUA's Tomas Mazura's backdoor pass attempt either reached Teddy Griffin or went off a D-man's skate at 17:07. KUA's Zach Taylor then tied it at 3-3, ripping a shot from the slot with 38 seconds left in the frame.

The third period started out brand-new at 3-3 and became an increasingly careful sort of back-and-forth game as the period progressed. Things looked headed to OT when Widcats junior forward Paul Dore ripped a high slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle with 58 seconds left to give KUA a 4-3 win and its third straight Elite 8 title.

 

Highlights: Sat. March 2 Semifinals

Elite 8 Semifinals:

#5 Dexter @ #1 Salisbury, 2:15 pm -- Salisbury 3, Dexter 2
Salisbury, Conn. -- After a scoreless first period, Salisbury's big guns -- juniors Nick Capone (1g,2a), Lucas Mercuri (1g,1a), and Justin Hryckowian (2a) -- got to work as Salisbury scored three straight goals to take a 3-0 lead. Midway though the third, Dexter got on board on a Chase McInnis unassisted goal, and a goal from John Farinacci that made it a one-goal game -- but with just 10 seconds left. Salisbury senior goalie Jared Levine kicked out 21 of 23, and Dexter senior Derek Mullahy stopped 18 of 21. Dexter finished its season at 22-4-4. Salisbury moves on to the championship game against KUA, a repeat of last season's title game, won 3-2 by the Wildcats.

#3 Lawrence @ #2 KUA, 3:30 pm -- KUA 5, Lawrence 1 
Meriden, NH -- KUA built a 3-0 lead in the first, too steep a hill for LA to climb to get back into the game. Zach Whitehead (2g), Zach Taylor (1g,1a) and Devan Newhook (2a) led the point leaders. Seth Stadheim and Arlo Merritt (shorthanded) also had goals for KUA. Ethan Bastien scored LA's lone goal. KUA's Veeti Kohvakka (21/22) got the win; LA senior Ian Graiff (23/28) took the loss. Lawrence finishes its season at 20-3-6 while KUA heads to Manchester on Sunday seeking its third straight Elite 8 crown (5:00 pm).

Large School Semifinals:

#4 Kent @ #1 Deerfield, 2:00 pm -- Kent 7, Deerfield 5
Deerfield, Mass. -- A wild one here. Kent held a 4-1 lead after two periods only to see it totally evaporate in the third as host Deerfield  scored four straight goals to take a 5-4 lead with a little over five minutes left on the clock. But the scoring was far from over, as Kent scored two goals three minutes apart to take back the lead with 1:53 left. Colin Cobb added an empty-netter with 10 seconds left. The star in this one was Michael Posma, who had a hat trick and three assists. Alex Laferriere (1g,4a), and Aidan Cobb (1g,3a) also had big days. Matt Miron had two goals for Deerfield, which finishes its season with a 15-9-3 record. Kent faces Cushing for the Large School Championship Sunday in Manchester (2:30 pm).

#7 Cushing @ #3 Nobles, 5:15 pm -- Cushing 4, Nobles 2
Dedham, Mass. -- Sophomore Anthony Cafarelli notched a hat trick while his older brother, junior Nick Cafarelli assisted on each of the goals to lead Cushing to a hard-fought 4-2 win over host Nobles. In the third period, David Jacobs and Jack Cronin scored 52 seconds apart to bring the home team to within one with 12 minutes left. Nobles  couldn't get the equalizer, though, and Cafarelli scored an empty-netter for his third goal at 17:18. Cushing senior Joe Sharib (23/25) got the win; Nobles junior Marc Smith (27/30) took the loss. Nobles finishes its season at 18-9-2. Cushing will face Kent for the Large School title Sunday.

Small School Semifinals:

#5 St. Mark's @ #1 Tilton, 4:00 pm -- Tilton 4, St. Mark's 1 
Tilton, NH -- Tilton never trailed in this one, taking a 2-0 lead into the third period before St. Mark's junior Von Mabbs scored to cut the Rams' lead to one. That was as close as they could get, though. Less than four minutes later, Tilton junior Jack Seymour scored an insurance goal, and then added an empty-netter with 1:19 left. Tilton PG goaltender Owen Cuddyer (31/32) got the win; St. Mark's senior Alex Cardonick (33/36) took the loss. St. Mark's finishes the season with a 19-10-2 mark, while Tilton advances to the Small School championship game Sunday at noon against Lakes Region rival Holderness.

#7 Holderness @ #3 Rivers, 1:15 pm -- Holderness 4, Rivers 2
Weston, Mass. -- Holderness, on a first-period goal from Joe Biddle, and early second-period goals from Jake Waterman and Isaiah Fox, took a 3-0 lead and spent the rest of the game fending off the Rivers' attack. Henry Muller finally got Rivers on the board at 12:06 of the second. A third period power play goal from freshman Ziv Deener-Chodirker, a rebound of a Sam Amato point shot, cut it to 3-2. But Rivers' couldn't get the equalizer as Holderness goalie Connor Androlewicz (49/51) came up big time and again. Holderness moves on to Manchester for the Small School championship game Sunday at noon against Holderness. 


Around the Rinks

Dexter D John Fusco in action against St. Seb's in Wednesday's quarterfinal win. Fusco scored the game's first two goals.
Dexter D John Fusco in action against St. Seb's in Wednesday's quarterfinal win. Fusco scored the game's first two goals. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
 
Groton senior Drew Burke notched a hat trick in Wednesday's 6-2 win over Governor's. The win was Groton's fourth in a row.
Groton senior Drew Burke notched a hat trick in Wednesday's 6-2 win over Governor's. The win was Groton's fourth in a row. (Photo: Groton School)
 
Tilton junior D Jagger Benson scored a pair of first period PP goals to give the Rams an early 2-0 lead Wednesday.
Tilton junior D Jagger Benson scored a pair of first period PP goals to give the Rams an early 2-0 lead Wednesday. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
 
Andover junior G Charlie Archer kicked out 35 of 37 shots in Wednesday's 3-2 win over Tilton.
Andover junior G Charlie Archer kicked out 35 of 37 shots in Wednesday's 3-2 win over Tilton. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)