It is probably safe to state that absolutely no one saw this one coming. How could they have?
After all, Bedford had squeezed out a 3-2 season-opening win against Concord, albeit three months ago. Truth be told, this type of outcome is never anticipated when the top two seeds, both defensively responsible clubs, meet with the State Championship at stake.
So, when the scoreboard went to triple zeros Saturday evening at the SNHU Center in Manchester Saturday evening and it read Bedford: 7, Concord: 0 it was, well, jarring. Yet, there it was, the largest margin of victory in a D1 championship game since Hanover’s 11-0 demolition of Manchester Central in 1994.
It was a most efficient title defense by the No. 1 Bulldogs(19-1-1), who required a meager 15 shots to win their second title in three Division One campaigns, and their fifth overall to go with the three Division Two crowns they claimed from 2012-14. No. 2 Concord, seeking its first title since 2010 and the program’s ninth overall, finished 17-4-0.
Bedford gained immediate control, delivering a lethal three-goal volley in a span of 2:20 for a 3-0 lead less than six minutes into the game, scoring on three of its first five shot. Although Concord settled and poured 13 shots on net in the opening 15 minutes, the Crimson Tide never truly recovered and mustered up just eight shots on goal the rest of the way. Many of their best looks missed the net, a few tap-ins skittered wide, and Bedford’s junior keeper Erick Voloshin handled those shots that did find their way through with relative ease.
Bedford senior Griffin Gagne kicked off the scoring with a power play strike at 3:19, driving home a one-timer from the left circle with, as it played out, what proved to be the only goal the Bulldogs required. Senior Jay Roberto garnered the assist, delivering a tasty dish through the Concord box.
Roberto, who finished with a hat trick and two assists, was just getting started. With 5:06 expired, he collected the rebound of Eric Flynn’s shot and swept a backhand past Crimson Tide keeper Spencer Burgess for a 2-0 lead. Thirty-three seconds later Roberto deposited another rebound with nary a Concord defender in position to contest. Burgess didn’t get much help from his friends in the early going.
While Bedford coach Marty Myers could not have scripted a better start, Concord coach Dunc Walsh used his timeout after Roberto’s second goal, reminding his team that 39-plus minutes of hockey remained. To no avail, as it turned out.
Myers praised Roberto and the Bulldogs’ entourage of prime-time players for delivering across the board with the spotlight at its brightest. “We talked about that in the locker room, that the big-time players needed to have big games, and I think they did,” he said.
Walsh lamented the slow start that curtailed the Crimson Tide flow.
Any hopes Concord entertained about chipping away and climbing back into the fray ended shortly after the second period started when the Tide surrendered a short handed goal. Steaming down the right wing while leading a 2-on-1 break, Colin Voloshin ripped home a shot from the right circle for a 4-0 lead at 2:26 of the period.
Gagne’s second, a backhand finish of Roberto’s set-up, made it 5-0 with 10:40 left in the period. Roberto finished his hat trick with 3:31 left in the period, snapping a shot over the left shoulder of Burgess to make it 6-0. Jacob Rioux and Gagne drew the assists.
The six-goal differential sent the game into running time for the third period. Rioux finished the scoring with a shorthanded tally at 4:41 of the period against Concord’s relief goalie Griffin Gilbert.