The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division Three Boys Hockey Tournament swings into action with two quarterfinal games Saturday. Semifinals are set for next Wednesday at Everett Arena and the championship game will be played Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday, March 14 at 12:15 p.m.
Here’s a look at the six-team field:
No. 1 Belmont-Gilford (16-2-0)
The division’s highest-scoring team (121 goals) had its 14-game winning streak snapped in the season’s final game by reigning champion Souhegan – not necessarily a bad thing.
The Bulldogs returned ample firepower from last year’s semifinalist and it paid off. Junior Caleb Drouin (22-22-44) and senior Andrew D’Amour (25-17-42) enjoyed big seasons and were augmented by junior Dylan Treamer (17-14-31) and freshmen Mikes Defosses (9-8-17) and Harrison Parent (7-8-1).
Senior defenseman Brogan Hurst (8-22-30) enjoyed another stellar season. Senior Nikolai Fernandez provides presence on the back line. Goalie Bailey Defosie (2.14 gaa) had a solid campaign.
Belmont-Gilford will face the Kennett-Souhegan winner in the semis.
No. 2 John Stark/Hopkinton (15-2-1)
The Generals are seeking their third straight title game appearance and claimed the crown in 2013. The quartet of Callahan Loos (20-21-41), Jake Blanchette (19-21-40), Robbie Ferguson (21-8-29) and Kyle Kolehmainen (9-15-24) trigger the offense. Adrian McCarthy-Tiella (13 goals) also had a strong year.
Seniors Cooper Bourque, Scott Olson and Daniel Medvez and freshman Nick Gagne for the core of the defense in front of veteran senior keeper Josh Gagne ( 2.29, .912), who has a wealth of post-season experience. Stark opened the season on an Ironman-like 12-game winning streak but went just 3-2-1 in its last six games.
JSH awaits the Berlin-Gorham/Moultonborough-InterLakes in the semis.
No. 3 Berlin-Gorham (14-3-1)
The Mountaineers haven’t lost since a three-game slide from Jan. 17-28 and enter post-season as the division’s hottest team with 10 straight wins. BG is 6-3-1 against tournament qualifiers and handled Kennett, Souhegan and Moultonborouh-InterLakes in its second-half surge.
Junior Justin Vien (17-17-34), sophomore Owen Dorval (24 points), Trevor Labrecque (15-7-22) and junior defenseman Nathan Trull (8-11-1) form the foundation of a balanced attack. Trull joins senior Blake Leborgne (7-6-13) in the back while junior Brenden Williams has been sound in goal with a 1.96 gaa and .928 save pct. BG allowed the fewest goals (27) of any qualifier.
No. 4 Kennett (12-4-2)
After winning 9-of-10 at one point, the Eagles struggled to a 2-3-1 finish. Still it was enough for Kennett to earn its first home playoff game since 2012. Kennett swept the season series and will try to disprove the axiom that “it’s tough to beat the same team three times in a season.”
Junior Nick Ansaldi (18-22-40) and senior Robbie Moody (28-11-39) drove the offense with assistance from Anthony Graziano (24 points), Connor Doucet (15 goals) and Colby Couture (12-10-22). Seniors Bobby Davis (1.54/.905) and Josh Kondrat (2.23/.938) split time in goal for the second consecutive year.
“We are playing the defending champions, who are arguably one of the hottest teams headed into the playoffs. Souhegan is highly-explosive and playoff tested and we are going to have to play our best of the season if we want to get past them,” said coach Mike Lane.
No. 5 Souhegan (11-7-0)
Though hampered by low numbers (13 skaters), coach Dan Beliveau’s defending champion Sabres remain one of the division’s most explosive and dangerous teams and is not to be taken lightly. Junior James Wilson erupted for 24 goals and 53 points.
He wasn’t alone as sophomore Kevin O’Brien (19-20-39), junior Robbie Duarte (15-15-30), sophomore Patrick McGrath (15-14-29) and senior Alek Medic (17-10-27) completed a quintet that accounted for all but 22 of Souhegan’s 112 goals.
Top defensemen Alex Maresco and Jon Erlich enjoyed strong two-way campaigns and Thomas Lott emerged as the top goaltender.
No. 6 Moultonborough-InterLakes (8-9-1)
The Renegades are another team short on numbers (14 skaters), which may have caught up to Chuck Yaeger’s club during a 1-4-1 finish that included losses to Belmont-Gilford, Berlin-Gorham and Souhegan (two). Encouragingly, the win came against Kennett.
Junior forward Cody Burns (18-19-37) improved upon a breakout sophomore season. Gus Kromer (16-9-25), senior defenseman Dylan Sheehan (11-13-24), Mike Dalzell (12-9-21) and sophomore Collin Sheehan (16 points) enjoyed productive campaigns. Freshman Nick Spicuzza handled most of the goaltending.
Saturday, March 7
No. 5 Souhegan at No. 4 Kennett, Ham, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Moultonborough-InterLakes at No. 3 Berlin-Gorham, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11
at Everett Arena
Moultonboroug-InterLakes/Berlin-Gorham winner at John Stark/Hopkinton, 5:30p.m.
Kennett/Souhegan vs. No. 1 Belmont-Gilford, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 14
at Verizon Wireless Area, 12:15 p.m