Winchendon, Mass. – The fourth-seeded New Hampton Huskies punched their ticket to the NE Prep Small School finals with a 3-2 win over top-seeded Winchendon at Ritchie Arena. The Huskies will play Lawrence Academy Sunday at noon at St. Anselm’s College for the title.
Even though Winchendon had swept the regular-season series 2-0, both teams seemed to be feeling each other out in the first. New Hampton earned the better of the chances, thanks mostly to two power play opportunities. However, Winchendon’s James Corcoran (Walpole, MA) and Hew Hampton’s Matt Sayles (Milton, GA) kept the game scoreless after one period.
The second period started with more pace as New Hampton struck first with 14:29 remaining. Corcoran made a great pad save on a streaking Lynden Breen (Grand Bay-Westfield, NS/U-Maine). Breen followed the puck to the corner, gathered it and hit Junior Joe Dunlap (Windham, NH) in the slot. Dunlap made no mistake, rifling a wrist shot top shelf for the score. Winchendon then took a five-minute major. On the ensuing power play, Dunlap wheeled into the zone, rounded the net and made a pass to Michael Kane (Guilford, CT/Holy Cross) who fired a shot on net. The puck popped up in the air and off the chest of PG Lukas Uhler (Upland, CA) to put the Huskies up 2-0. New Hampton would head to the locker room with the two-goal lead.
The third period saw up and down action, several scrums around both cages and several odd-man chances. Just 2:29 in, Breen hit the crossbar. Soon after, Winchendon’s Ville Rainio (Espoo, Finland) and New Hampton’s Cory Morris (Kahnawake, QC) were denied on breakaway chances within a minute of each other. Finally, with 11:20 left, Gendron broke through for Winchendon on the man advantage as he tipped home a Matt Rickard’s (Coventry, RI) shot from the point. Teams traded chances until New Hampton regained the two-goal advantage when junior James Hatzepetros (Mount Royal, QC) snapped a puck from the blue line through traffic to the post and in. Gendron added a rebound goal with 41.3 seconds left, but New Hampton held on for the win and a berth in the finals.
Sunday’s matchup between Lawrence and New Hampton will be the first time the two teams have played in recent memory. Lawrence defeated Gunnery in overtime earlier on Saturday.
For New Hampton: Sayles was solid in the net. He played an aggressive game and showed strength with traffic in the crease. The ’00 has good size, sense and agility. Senior Michael Kesselring (New Hampton, NH/Merrimack) has a very good defensive stick. His last year of prep has helped him improve and his play with the puck as he has it a lot. His improvement has been consistent. PG Thomas Albert (Reading, MA) showed vision below the dots and managed the puck well along the wall. U-Hartford lacrosse commit Zak Lanoue (Durham, NH) added a physical element and had a nice overall game. Junior Alec Grace showed good speed, won races to pucks, stretched the ice and negated icings. Breen showed elite sped and a slick offensive stick. Senior Michael Ardagna (Woodstock, GA) was steady and played well in all situations.
For Winchendon: The line of Matt Fawcett (Lincoln, RI/Quinnipiac) Gendron and Ryan Black (Pomfret, CT/Babson) played well and were certainly one of the top groups in prep hockey this season. Black played a very good game. He drew a penalty with an impressive individual effort to help stop the bleeding a bit during a five-minute penalty kill, down. He worked to defend in his end and made several creative offensive plays. Gendron played hard, went to scoring areas and hustled back to his end. Corcoran played well enough to get the win. One goal he could not see, one was a tipped puck and the other was a point-blank snipe. Rickard moved the puck well and is an excellent skater who can pass or carry the puck from his end.
Three Stars of the Game:
First Star: Joe Dunlap, New Hampton
Second Star: Matt Sayles, New Hampton
Third Star: Cam Gendron: Winchendon