As I write this, only two local high school athletic teams remain in NHIAA tournament action, the Berlin High School boys’ hockey team, and the Berlin High Unified Basketball Team.
As reported previously, the Berlin High School boys’ and girl’s basketball teams were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and this past Friday; the No. 4 Berlin-Gorham girls’ hockey team lost to No. 5 Hanover, 6-1; and the Meet Of Champions Ski Race, of which Gorham’s Ben Harmon participated in has been held.
But before we get into the hockey playoffs, Olivia Halle of Gorham High School ski fame was selected to represent Gorham’s American Legion at the N.H. Oratorical Finals to be held at St. Anselm’s College on March 16. This program final is designed to teach students to understand better and appreciate more the U. S. Constitution as well as to learn about our nation’s laws and citizenship, while developing speaking skill through various challenges related to the Constitution. Best wishes for much success to a very deserving student!
The Berlin High School boys’ hockey team completed overwhelmed Moultonborough-Inter Lakes 8-1 on Saturday night.
In the Friday night game at the Notre Dame Arena, Berlin-Gorham girls’ team was pretty much overwhelmed by, in my opinion, the strongest team in the Division I tournament, even though they came in as the No. 5 seed. Hanover plays a 12-game Division I schedule (where they were 11-0-1) and a five-game prep school schedule, where all of their losses occurred. The only real advantage Berlin-Gorham had in the seedings was that they gained home ice advantage. I think if they had had any other draw, other than Hanover, they had a chance to advance. This game began as the Concord game had, with Hanover dominating but Berlin-Gorham goalie Lauren Frenette kept them in the game, making 13 saves, a couple spectacular ones, while giving up one goal early (1:11), to Bryn Kable, in the first period, to trail by only one point after the period ended.
Second period action generated five goals, four for the Mauraders and one for Berlin-Gorham. Hanover scored the first three, two coming off the stick of Violet Sperry (+ an assist) to make it 4-0.
At 11:12 of the middle period, Jill Halle got the good-sized crowd excited with an unassisted goal to seemingly give the Mountaineers a bit of a lift. That ended abruptly, and before Butch Ladd and I were able to highlight the goal on NSN TV, Emma Tysinger scored right after the center ice puck drop to give Hanover a 5-1 lead, which is how period 2 ended. The visitors outshot Berlin-Gorham 8-3 for a total of 22-6.
Right off in period 3, at 1:00, Lauren Frenette was forced to make two saves in a row, an initial one and then a shot of that rebound to keep the guests from upping the four goal lead to five. Midway through the period Berlin-Gorham committed a couple of penalties, one without a score, thanks to Frenette’s great save on one particular shot. But at 10:00 the hosts were called for that second penalty and .46 seconds into it, Hanover’s No. 10, Violet Sperry notched her third goal (a hat trick) to give them an insurmountable 6-1 lead, that would stand up as the final horn sounded. The visitors had an 11-4 shots on goal advantage in that final period. Frenette was credited with 27 saves while the Hanover goalie had 9. Hanover advances to play No. 1 seeded Oyster River-Portsmouth in the semi-finals, tonight in Concord. From what I have seen of them, the Mauraders will win the Division I Girl’s Hockey Championship.
Coach Craig Bartoli’s Berlin-Gorham team ended their very successful season at 12-6-1, and will say goodbye to senior Lauren Frenette, who played in her last game as a Berlin-Gorham hockey player.
The following night, Mike Poulin’s Berlin High School Boy’s Hockey Team had little trouble taking care of business, defeating Mountonborough-Inter Lakes, 7-0, before a large Saturday night crowd at the famed Notre Dame Arena. Period 1 saw plenty of action, especially offensively and in the second half of the period for Berlin High School as they peppered the opponent’s goalie to the tune of a 13-2 advantage. But the puck managed to stay out of the net throughout that initial period.
Very early in period 2, Griffin Melanson got the crowd excited, when at 1:55, he snapped a hard and accurate wrist shot that hit the post and deflected in for a 1-0 lead, Berlin. That was an unassisted goal. Shortly after that, Andrew Martel set up Sawyer Sanschagrin with a perfect pass in the crease, that just missed connecting on. That was just a sample of what was to come as Berlin High School had 15 shots on goal in that period and along with Melanson’s, had three more — one on a power play (MB-IL had 6 total penalties, 2 in each period), that started on a nice pass from Goalie Trent Labrecque, to Ben Estrella, who carried the puck up the right side and slid a perfect pass to Sanschagrin who tucked it into the net on a one-timer to give Berlin High School a 2-0 lead. That goal came at 8:06.
Not too long after, Senior Cam Boucher had a blast that hit the cross bar, and we all thought it was a goal, but it did not cross the goal line. Action continued until at 9:31, Freshmen Carter Poulin, with an assist from Melanson, wristed it past the Renegade’s goalie to up the score to 4-0. Andrew Martel finished off the scoring for that period, at 13:10, with help from Melanson (again) and Estrella. Berlin outshot their guests 15-1, in that period to have a 28-3, shots on goal advantage after two periods.
The final stanza showed Mountonborough-Inter Lakes managing five shots on goal, two more than the previous two periods combined, one that Labrecque had to make a spectacular save on, but they would not score then or ever in this game. At 3:40, Tyler Rousseau scored his first goal of the night, with help from Trevor Breault and Brayden Riendeau, and then he followed that up with a second goal, at 5:52, with an end-to-end skating and stick-handling exhibition to finish it off with a wicked wrist shot that found “nothing but net.” And then finally, Sanschagrin with help from Melanson (if three goals is a hat trick, what would three assists be called?) and Dom Paradis, scored the last and final goal on a power play. Fortunately, the third period was running time as a mercy rule that certainly sped things up a bit.
Final shots of goal were heavily in favor of Berlin with a 40-8 advantage. Berlin now goes on to face No. 1 ranked John Stark-Hopkinton at the Plymouth State University Ice Arena in Plymouth on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. They advanced with an easy 8-3 win over Kennett. Berlin lost to John Stark-Hopkinton earlier in the season, 6-0, and then made it close before losing 3-2, back in early February. It should prove to be an exciting match-up.
Other hockey notes: Former Berliners Grant Goulet and John Leclerc were NHIAA hockey referees in the girls’ and boys’ games respectively this past weekend. They both did excellent jobs controlling the action.
Gorham High School’s Ben Harmon competed in the NHIAA Meet of Champions Alpine Races last week and handled himself quite well, considering as Coach Sherrill Tracy quipped, “it was his first time at this level of competition, which includes the best of the best in all divisions in New Hampshire; the course conditions were fast and bullet-proof; and there were lots of nerves on display.” Ben was also selected as a Granite State All Conference Skier for the North Team. Congratulations, Ben, on a truly great season. And he returns next year!
As a reminder, Karen Turgeon’s Berlin High School Unified Basketball Team will be hosting the winner of the Newfound/Gilford game on Friday at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the semi-finals on Wednesday, March 13.
There will be a “Make A Wish” benefit hockey game on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Notre Dame Arena. The game pits the N.H. Department of Corrections against the Berlin Fire Department. More information will be posted here on Thursday.
One more reminder on Duane Johnson’s meeting tonight at the Gorham Family Resource Center for baseball players, ages 13-16, and their parents to get information on plans and schedules for the upcoming baseball season. The time is 5:30-6:30 p.m. For more information, call (603) 915-3997.