By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Turn the page.
That's the message Coach Mike Lane had for the Kennett High ice hockey team at practice on Thursday, the day after the Eagles suffered their first loss of the season. KHS, the last undefeated team in Division III, fell 4-1 at home at Ham Ice Arena to fourth ranked Belmont-Gilford on Wednesday night.
Despite the loss, which dropped Kennett to 7-1 (10-1 overall), the Eagles still sit atop the league standings. The Bulldogs of Belmont-Gilford improve to 5-1-1 and are tied for third with Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (also 5-1-1).
Berlin-Gorham, which Kennett beat last week, resides alone in second at 6-1.
"We're ready to turn the page and move on from an ugly night," Lane said Thursday. "We'll bury that one and focus on preparing for Kearsarge/Plymouth (1-5) on Saturday (5 p.m. at Plymouth State University rink).
"Got to give credit to Belmont-Gilford, its a good team," he said. "I think they were the hungrier team. The bottom line is we didn't move our feet, and when you only have four shots through the first two periods, we didn't really test them."
Not only did Kennett lose the game, but it also lost talented junior defenseman Conner Furtado to a broken hand. He suffered the injury in the first period when he blocked a shot.
"Hopefully it's not too serious and he'll be back sooner rather than later," Lane said. "Conner is a hockey player. He blocked a shot, taped up his hand between periods and took his shift to start the second period, but he came off the ice almost immediately saying he couldn't go because he had no strength in the hand."
The teams played to a scoreless first period. The Bulldogs broke the deadlock in the second period on a goal by Hayden Parent.
B-G, the current state runner-ups, doubled its lead two minutes into the third period when Chaz Hacking picked off a pass in the neutral zone, skated in on a breakaway and made no mistake from close range.
The Bulldogs extended their advantage three minutes later with a power-play goal by James Buckley.
Kennett goalie Johnny Biggio, who had 19 saves on the night, stopped the lead from growing further when he made two fine stops on a B-G power-play, robbing Hunter Dupuis with a blocker save with 5:17 to play, and then stymieing Alex Muthersbaug a minute later.
The Eagles made things interesting when Anthony Graziano scored his sixth goal in the last three games, when he beat Bailey Defosie from out front with 3:45 to play. Mackenzie Murphy and Connor Doucet.
Doucet came oh-so close to making a one-goal game with 1:03 to play. With Biggio out the net, the Eagles added another skater to the offense. Doucet forced Defosie into his best save of the night from point blank range.
"What we can take out of this game," Lane said, "is when we got behind 3-0, we didn't quit. After Graziano scored we had a couple of good opportunities to close the gap. I'm not discouraged. It's a loss, but there's still a lot of hockey to be played."
Lane was also impressed with the play of forward Tanner Brown, who is coming back from illness last week.
"I think Tanner had a real strong game," he said.
With Furtado on the shelf, Kennett skated just three defensemen for the final two periods with Mackenzie Murphy, Reilly Murphy and Trevor Olivier seeing lots of ice time.
"We allowed Belmont-Gilford 10 shots over the final two periods," Lane said. "Kenzie, Reilly and Trevor did a nice job."
B-G closed out the scoring on an empty-net goal by Dupuis with 36 seconds left.
In other KHS hockey news, Mackenzie Murphy has been promoted from assistant captain to captain.
"He's done a really nice job," Lane said. "As a coaching staff this was something we decided to do last week."