New Hampshire D3 Boys Final: Berlin-Gorham ends 40-year title drought

Kevin Doyle
Kevin Doyle
Kevin joined HNIB in 1990 and is a Senior Writer and Director of the Northern New England and Mass/R.I. High School Division camps. A veteran editor/writer of 40 years in the print and digital mediums, he has edited and produced original content and coordinated production for local and global publications and websites. He holds degrees from Merrimack College and Boston University and won multiple industry awards as Sports Editor of The Daily News of Newburyport and News Editor of The Amesbury News. He is the 2016 recipient of the North Shore Lifetime Commitment From the Community award presented by Moynihan Lumber and a 2017 Newburyport High School Wall of Fame inductee. He resides with his family in Portsmouth, NH. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @kdoyle40

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BERLIN-GORHAM coach Mike Poulin with captains (l to r) Nick Lowe, Justin Vien, Nathan Trull and Owen Dorval after winning New Hampshire D3 title
BERLIN-GORHAM coach Mike Poulin with captains (l to r) Nick Lowe, Justin Vien, Nathan Trull and Owen Dorval after winning New Hampshire D3 title

Where to begin? Simple — with the crazy finish to Saturday afternoon’s NHIAA Division 3 championship rematch between No. 4 Belmont-Gilford and No.2 Berlin-Gorham at The Verizon Center.

Down a goal and holding a 6-on-3 skater advantage via two Mountaineers’ penalties and goalie Bailey Defosie on the bench, the defending champion Bulldogs thought they had tied the game with time running out. However, Dylan Treamer’s shot from the high slot hit the crossbar, caromed off the right post then skittered left, hugging but never crossing the goal line, waved off by the referee stationed directly behind the goal.

As a result, Berlin-Gorham (16-4-0) ended a 40-year title drought with its pulsating 2-1 win. It was the Mountaineers’ first title since having claimed nine in a 14-year stretch from 1963-76.

BERLIN-GORHAM's Trevor Labrecque just missed scoring on this close-in bid on Belmon-Gilford goalie Cody Hodgins. (Gary Demopoulos photo)
BERLIN-GORHAM’s Trevor Labrecque just missed scoring on this close-in bid on Belmont-Gilford goalie Bailey Defosie. (Gary Demopoulos photo)

Last year Belmont-Gilford (14-7-0) prevailed in OT, 3-2, after tying the game in the final minute.

“What a great feeling. It’s indescribable. These guys all have fathers, uncles and grandfathers who won championships so it’s great for them to now win one of their own. It’s going to mean so much for the community,” said Berlin-Gorham coach Mike Poulin. “It was a little deja vu on the bench in the final minute, just like last year’s game.”

Belmont-Gilford coach Jay Londer asked for a replay review but the NHIAA does not have that protocol in place and the goal stood.

“I don’t mind losing but not that’s hard to swallow. I thought it was a goal. Not taking away from Berlin-Gorham — they played hard, they deserve to be champions. I just think we got hosed on that call,” Londer said.

Berlin-Gorham enjoyed a territorial edge during a physical first period, generating a number of odd-man rushes that came up empty. Early on, Mountaineers’ goalie Brenden Williams (28 saves) flashed his pad on Caleb Drouin’s labeled shot from the mid slot. When Dylan Treamer weaved his way through Berlin-Gorham’s defense, Williams dropped to smother Treamer’s attempt at a 5-hole stuff with one second left in the period.

BERLIN-GORHAM's Noah Schoenbeck taps home Mountaineers first goal of the game just to the right of Belmon-Gilford goalie Cody Hodgins. Goal tied the game at 1-1 in second period. (Gary Demopoulos photo)
BERLIN-GORHAM’s Noah Schoenbeck taps home Mountaineers first goal of the game just to the right of Belmont-Gilford goalie Bailey Defosie. Goal tied the game at 1-1 in second period. (Gary Demopoulos photo)

The Bulldogs struck first at 3:24 of the second period. Drouin won a 50/50 puck,worked his way off the left wall to the right circle and snapped a shot along the ice that beat Williams 5-hole. Christian Karagianis and Treamer drew the assists.

Berlin-Gorham pulled even on the second of three consecutive power plays midway through the period. Nathan Trull’s pass from the left wall found Noah Schoenbeck for a short-side re-direct off the near post and right pad of Bulldogs’ goalie Defosie (18 saves) to make it 1-1 with 5:38 left in the period.

The Mountaineers needed just 13 seconds to convert a power play midway through the third period. Quick passes in close quarters by Owen Dorval and Evan Valliere set up a wide open Trevor Labrecque on the back side and the senior didn’t miss, burying the ultimate game-winner with 7:32 to play.

Williams then went to work personally frustrating Drouin down the stretch. There were two key stops on Drouin testers from the left circle and high slot. And, with 2:27 to play, Williams slid to his left to calmly steer aside Drouin’s short-handed attempt.

“Brenden gave us great goaltending and had a great year. He finished the season so strong,” said Poulin.

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