Concord (15-2-0) and Salem (14-1-0), owners of the division’s top two records, will face off in a compelling State Championship game Saturday night at JFK Arena in Manchester (7). Salem edged Bedford in OT, 2-1, and Concord knocked off Bishop Guertin, 4-1, in Wednesday night’s semifinals
Concord and Salem did not meet during the regular season. The Blue Devils’ sole crown came in 2004 when they defeated Manchester Memorial in OT, 3-2. Concord – a declared 2020 co-champion after the NHIAA cancelled Championship Weekend at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak – is seeking its eighth State Title, all since 1977, and is making the program’s 22nd Championship Game appearance, second all-time behind Berlin.
SEMIFINALS – (JFK Arena)
Salem 2, Bedford 1 (OT)
The Blue Devils’ victory was a study in perseverance. Despite being on the defensive for long stretches of the game and being outshot, 34-16, senior goalie Spencer Deane (33 saves) kept his club in it and provided the opportunity to win the three-game season series from the Bulldogs (2-1-0) and advance to its first State Championship game since 2005 (third overall).
Bedford, the division’s other declared 2020 co-champion, dominated the first 30 minutes when it piled up a 28-10 shot advantage. The Bulldogs broke the scoreless tie early in the third period when Dalton Roberto converted a Logan DeBonville set-up. Salem tied it 1-1 when defenseman Austin Salvetti’s blast from the high slot found the mark.
Bedford killed a penalty late in regulation but Ryan Allard delivered the game-winner just inside of two minutes into extra time off a faceoff win by Brady Ferreira. Ryan Pappalardo added the secondary assist. Bedford finished 10-5-0.
Concord 4, Bishop Guertin 1
Due to regional scheduling implemented in response to COVID, the long-time rivals didn’t meet during the regular season. The Crimson Tide got the early jump and did not let up.
Brooks Craigue’s 14th goal of the season, a snipe from the left circle, made it 1-0 just 3:09 into the game. Tyler Coskren and Colin Nelson drew the assists. Shortly after an unsuccessful Bishop Guertin power play, Cardinals’ keeper John Casey scrambled to his left to deny Craigue’s bid to finish a 2-on-1 break off Ryan Philbrick’s deft delivery from the left circle. Concord’s Kevin Jones frustrated Guertin’s forward crew, in particular Quinn Cepiel, during an 11-save first period’
The game-winner came on Nelson’s second goal of the year with 35 seconds left in the period. Positioned in the low right slot, he re-directed Craigue’s shot down and past Casey, who had zero chance at making the save.
Noah Drew, completely alone in the mid slot after Joey Ala’s tasty dish, expanded Concord’s lead to 3-0 at 4:55 of the second period. Zach Drew, from Colin O’Brien and Cam McGonigle, added a third-period goal. The Cardinals, who finished 12-3-0, got a third period goal from Dan Woodford.
Saturday, March 13
Concord vs. Salem, 7 pm