The Pinkerton Academy hockey squad closed out its 2012-13 regular season by splitting contests with the Londonderry High Lancers and the Salem High Blue Devils last week. Those decisions left the defending state champions with a 10-8 Division I record heading into the tournament.
Londonderry snared its third win of the season over Pinkerton in the meeting between the arch-rivals at The Ice Den in Hooksett on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The Lancers busted a 2-2 tie with a pair of unanswered goals in the last 6:42 of the game for a 4-2 victory. LHS goalie Joe McGrath had 46 saves to help the Londonderry cause tremendously, and although the game was tied twice, the Lancers never trailed.
The visiting LHS crew netted the only goal of the first period when, 5:35 in, John Dunn was set up by Eric Coburn for a nice wrist shot from the left faceoff circle in the Pinkerton zone. Both squads had 13 shots on net in the period, but that was the only blast that found its way into a net. Pinkerton then potted the only goal of the second stanza when, with 4:35 showing on the clock, Jake Veilleux scored after being set up by Ryan Monte and Max Campbell.
The academy crew enjoyed four power-plays during that period, and ended up putting 17 shots on LHS goalie McGrath. But PA only potted the one tally and had one goal nullified after the officials judged that the Londonderry net had been knocked off its moorings before the puck went in. The Lancers regained the lead at 2-1 just 1:24 into the third period when Mike Donlan rapped home the rebound of a Curtis Harper shot. Dunn also collected an assist.
But the Astros knotted the score back up at 2-2 just two minutes later when Connor Brady netted a power-play goal on a turnaround shot in the slot in front of the LHS cage. Devin Moore and Nick Salema had the assists. Londonderry collected the victory with a tally by Coburn with 6:42 to go when the big winger gathered a loose puck at the left post of the Pinkerton cage and slid a shot home. That marker was followed by an open-net goal by Ryan Griffin with just 11.7 seconds remaining, with Dunn claiming another assist.
There had been a bit of controversy between the two LHS goals when Pinkerton had a marker disallowed with 1:52 to go when the officials lost sight of the puck in Lancer goalie McGrath’s pads before the Astros put the disc home. “Pinkerton really came to play today, and I think this was the closest of the three games we played against them this season,” said LHS assistant coach Paul Vanasse. PA goalie Nate Mitchell finished the contest with 31 big saves.
“We just can’t seem to find a bounce,” lamented coach Casey Kesselring. “We can’t ask anything more of the kids. They all left their tanks empty out there today.” But the Astros’ regular season had a positive ending last Saturday night, Feb. 23, as Dom Corsetto busted a 1-1 tie with a tally with 3:30 left in their contest with the Salem High Blue Devils at the Salem Icenter.
Connor Brady had bagged the first of the PA goals, and Matt Marchman contributed 30 saves in the Pinkerton net. The Astros ended up the seventh seed in D-I, and were slated to play number 10 Concord in the first tourney round on Wednesday, Feb. 27, after the Nutfield News went to press.