NHIAA Boys' Hockey: Souhegan gets major boost, beats West
By MARK QUIRK New Hampshire Union Leader
Souhegan's Alex Mendola battles with West's Jeff Bell as Souhegan attacks in the third period of the Sabers' 5-2 win over the Blue Knights at JFK Coliseum in Manchester on Thursday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER - In Division III hockey, one playmaker can make all the difference. Souhegan of Amherst has a few of them.
Mike Hayden scored two goals, both of which came on a five-minute major penalty, when the Sabers regained the lead it ultimately held on for in a scrappy 5-2 win over Manchester West at JFK Coliseum on Thursday.
Souhegan (7-2) trailed 2-1 midway through the second period when the Blue Knights' Danny Deblois was issued the major penalty for roughing.
The Sabers took advantage of the penalty with three goals in less than two minutes to take a 4-2 lead. Matthew Wilson tied things up 2-2 with 6:06 left in the period, and then Hayden had the next two. His first was scored with 4:51 left before the break and his second came 42 seconds later.
Hayden also had two assists in the game and now has 32 points on the season.
"It's huge," Souhegan coach Dan Beliveau said about having a playmaker such as Hayden on the team. "The other kids feed off of it, they get better because of it, it just filters throughout the team."
West (2-7) put together a strong effort coming off a 6-5 win over ConVal last week. It trailed 1-0 after one period and took it to Souhegan in the second.
Alex Wright knotted the game 1-1 when he beat Sabers goalie Ryan Peterson (23 saves) five-hole at 3:57 of the second period. And then Jon Child gave the Blue Knights a 2-1 lead when he tucked in a rebound with 8:13 left in the period.
Just more than a minute later, Deblois was whistled for the major.
"The second-period penalty killed us," said West coach Matt Thompson. "We were feeling good, we had the momentum going and what are you going to do?"
It served as a wake-up call for the Sabers and Hayden, who took charge for the remainder of the frame. Hayden, an offensive defenseman, flew all over the ice and showed off his great skill with an end-to-end rush for his second goal of the game when he beat West goalie Josh Gagne (25 saves).
"I saw a lane," Hayden said. "I knew I could beat the players with speed, I deked the goalie and I put the puck in the net."
Wilson scored his second of the game with 11 seconds left in the second and the Sabers went into the intermission up 5-2.
There was no scoring in the third, but the Blue Knights generated several good opportunities. Zach Allard had a good chance on the near post with 10:30 left and Child almost put home another rebound with 8:30 remaining.
It was a gutsy effort, but in the end it was the talent and skill of Souhegan that prevailed in a game where cool heads reigned. It was the third win in a row for the Sabers after dropping back-to-back games for their only losses of the season.
"This is ice hockey so special teams is a big part of it," Beliveau said. "We happened to be working on our power play a lot this past week in practice, so essentially it was important for us to get one there and turn the tide for us."