After rolling through plenty of peaks and valleys during the first half of its 2013-14 Division I regular season, first-year varsity coach Joey Lee’s Pinkerton Academy ice hockey squad exhibited the kind of ability and cohesiveness of which Lee thought they were always capable.
The Astros sat quite a ways below the .500 mark and weren’t sure if they’d even be able to qualify for the Division I tournament mid-way through the campaign. But a subsequent five-game unbeaten streak that featured four wins and one tie heading into last week had the academy team sitting right at .500 at 7-7-2.
Lee’s legion ended up going a modest 1-1 last week, but both performances were quite noteworthy in their own ways. And the final results on the Astros’ divisional record were positive as the locals finished right at the .500 mark at 8-8-2. And that’s not even mentioning how the Pinkerton crew wound up feeling about itself, particularly after its hard-fought 2-1 loss to the tough Salem High Blue Devils at the Ice Den in Hooksett on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
The top-ranked Salem entered that evening’s action with a 13-1-1 record and a nine-game undefeated string (8-0-1). But the Blue Devils would have their hands full with a Pinkerton contingent whose game had obviously developed plenty in a matter of weeks.
The Astros potted the game’s first goal quickly after earning a man-advantage 23 seconds after the opening faceoff. And just nine seconds into their power-play the locals grabbed the lead when Ethan Landry scored from close range, with the assist going to teammate Tyler Poole.
Three minutes later, Astro veteran Bailey Walsh clanged a shot off a post of the Salem net, and PA narrowly missed out on going up by a 2-0 tally.
The score stood at 1-0 at the close of the first stanza, with both teams having whacked seven shots on net.
Tha Astros enjoyed another early power-play in the second period this time 5:01 after the faceoff but it proved unable to get the puck past the Blue Devils’ fine junior goalie Sam MacDonald. MacDonald’s mates knotted the score at 1-1 just 33 seconds after killing off the penalty.
Salem would then score the final goal of the night just 1:23 into the third stanza on a superb individual effort by junior forward Cody Soucy, who skated through the right faceoff circle in the PA zone with an Astro defenseman in front of him. Soucy wound the puck around the defender, skated in close on Pinkerton goalie Brendan Murphy, and slid a shot home.
The Astros worked diligently to bag the tying goal but were unable to do so, despite peppering the Salem net with a dozen shots.
“(Salem) played a blue-collar brand of hockey today, and they earned the win,” said Lee. “But I think we’ve proven to ourselves over the last month that we can play with the better teams, and we showed that today.”
The Astro icemen closed out their regular season in fine fashion last Saturday night, March 1, with a 10-4 walloping of Bishop Brady after beginning the evening with Senior Night festivities involving their six 12th graders and their families.
Once play began, junior Gio Corsetto paced the Pinkerton attack by having a hand in half of his team’s goals, scoring one of them and assisting on four others.
Ryan Monte, Ethan Landry, and Bailey Walsh each potted two goals for the victors while Ryan Day, Tyler Poole, and freshman Zach Pendenza each dished out two assists. Day, Tim Cronin, and John Polichetti also aided the locals’ cause by each scoring once.
PA senior goalie Sean Hall made 24 stops his contribution to the lopsided win.