Keene High hockey lights it up in the third in win over Goffstown
Someone really should have called the fire department.
The Keene High boys’ hockey team hit the ice for the third period, holding the worst lead in hockey — two goals — against Goffstown.
What ensued was nothing short of pyromania: five goals in 15 minutes and a leave-no-doubts 8-2 win over a Goffstown team that had lost just twice before Wednesday.
The Blackbirds turned a small spark into a flame.
It was surgical. It was explosive. And it was special.
Wednesday was senior night, after all, a celebration of dedication to the program for eight players. More so, this was a proving ground for these Blackbirds, who have exceeded everybody’s expectation, except for their own perhaps.
“Before we even knew what the team looked like on the ice, we knew we had the right kids; the right ingredients were there,” Keene Coach Chris McIntosh said. “It was just a matter of mixing and mashing and making sure we had the right recipe. They all have it in them and they all play important roles in different ways. The theme is we are stronger together and it showed tonight.”
Keene is now 13-1-1 with one game left in the regular season, Saturday against Spaulding.
Wednesday, a sign was held up behind the Blackbirds home net that read: “Goffstown don’t know.”
What the Grizzlies (14-3) didn’t know, in the end, is what hit them.
Through two periods and change, it had all the feelings of a tightly contested playoff game. When the teams took the sheet for the third, Goffstown was one play away from turning the game on its head.
But Ben Brown gave Keene a three-goal lead with 12:14 remaining, and things fell apart faster than a wet paper bag for Goffstown. In an instant, the Grizzlies lost their legs. They lost their fire, too. Meanwhile, the Blackbirds were pouring gasoline on theirs.
Connor Murphy made it 5-1 with 10:17 left. Then Joe Walsh made it 6-1 with his second goal of the game at 8:34. Goffstown got one back to make it 6-2 with 7:00 left on the clock, but Walsh made it a hat trick and a 7-2 game just 16 seconds later. Brown capped the scoring with 5:11 to play.
“They didn’t stop playing,” McIntosh said. “They treated it like it was nothing-nothing and I am proud of that. It’s hard, shift after shift, to play with that intensity and it paid off. We wore them down and we wore them down, and eventually it all just opened up.”
With the state tournament a week away, Wednesday was more important to the Blackbirds’ confidence than it was to position in the standings. Keene has already locked up a bye and will play at home in its first playoff game. What Keene was looking for Wednesday, McIntosh said, was a test.
“It was for pride,” the coach said. “Coming in to it, we knew what Goffstown had done through the league. … Going into the playoffs, we wanted to test ourselves. They know who they are and know what they can be and they know what we can do. And man, are we starting to get some experience right now at the right time. If they can come out and play like that going forward, we’ll be in good shape.”
Who stood out
Tim Greenwood — The Blackbirds’ captain worked his way to his usual output, grabbing a goal and two assists. The senior scored 12 seconds into the second period to give the Blackbirds a 2-0 lead. He helped make it 3-1 when he fed a perfect pass to Walsh on a 2-on-1 break.
Greenwood wore green laces on his skates, reminiscent of the ones he touted as a youth hockey player.
‘The three horsemen’ — Chris McIntosh said Monday that if the Blackbirds were going to be successful against an offensively daunting opponent such as Goffstown, his three senior defensemen would need to play a huge role. Marcin Maleski, Connor Murphy and Owen Haas did just that.
The Blackbirds rolled a three-man rotation at the blueline for the majority of the game and the trio did not allow many clean scoring chances. Goffstown entered having scored 40 goals in its previous five games.
All three defensemen also found the scoresheet. Haas opened the scoring, netting the only goal in the first period. Murphy netted his second goal of the season and also racked up an assist. Maleski had two helpers.
The backline has gone through shifts this season, with Joe Walsh moving up to forward. More recently, the Blackbirds lost senior Ryan Roof after he suffered a broken arm.
“We need to play two-way defense,” Murphy said. “Help on offense and defense, grind for pucks, get them deep and get shots on goal.”
Walsh led the team with four points, assisting on Tim Greenwood’s second-period goal. … Langevin had two assists. … Freshman Zach Mooers also added a helper. … Myles Ditkoff made 14 saves before he was replaced by Dylan Reilly in the third period with the game in hand.