Mark Quirk's High School Hockey: It's hot in Manchester
Manchester Central hockey coach Brian Stone calls out during practice Monday at JFK Coliseum in Manchester. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)
LAST THURSDAY, to best utilize their limited ice time at JFK Coliseum, the Memorial and Central high school hockey teams decided to share the ice and practice together.
Things probably won't be as cordial Thursday when the squads share the ice again, this time in a regular-season game between two of the best teams in the state. The game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at JFK.
"No doubt about it, there will be a different friendship there," Central coach Brian Stone said.
The Little Green are the only undefeated team left in Division I with a record of 5-0 and the Crusaders, who many still consider the best team in the state, are 5-1. Their only loss was in overtime against Londonderry (4-1-1).
Certainly, this is one of those games Stone and his team circled on the schedule. Memorial was runnerup last year, then reloaded this season. Another twist to the plot is Stone was an assistant for the Crusaders last year. He remains good friends with Memorial coach Mark Putney, part of the reason they were able to practice together. So Stone knows the Crusaders pretty well.
Knowing some of the tendencies of the Crusaders could be advantageous to the Little Green, but having coached with Putney last season probably doesn't mean much this year.
"Systems are systems, hockey isn't a complex game," Stone said. "He'll have them ready to play."
He does know, for example, forward Jacob Boylan is aggressive, Brendan Sullivan has a knack for the net this year and Colin Williamson is probably the most dangerous two-way player in the state.
"We're going to have our hands full," Stone said. "It should be a good one."
Central is still shorthanded on offense. Senior captain Mitchel Fortin will be out for the foreseeable future with a broken arm and Andrew Kehas is still suffering from a sprained shoulder.
SINCE SUFFERING a 1-0 loss to Bishop Guertin to open the season, Salem has gone unbeaten is its last five games with a record of 4-0-1. All of those games have been against teams with at least .500 records: Londonderry, Concord (2-2-1), Hanover (2-2-2), Pinkerton Academy of Derry (3-3) and Trinity of Manchester (3-3).
The most recent was a 3-1 win on Sunday over the Pioneers, who were carrying the momentum of a title at the Bauer Holiday Hockey Classic and a 9-2 win over Nashua South into the game.
Brian Frazier, Jake Pappalardo and Matt Survilas scored the goals for the Blue Devils, who are now 4-1-1. More importantly, goalie Nick Phair made 31 saves to outduel Ryan Slatky of Trinity, who is considered one of the best goalies in the state. Slatky finished with 25 saves.
"(We're getting leadership from) Frazier, (Ryan) Corbett, my captains," Salem coach Mark McGinn said. "Pappalardo, a young kid, and Paul Antkowiak."
WITH FORWARDS Fortin and Kehas still on the bench with injuries, the Little Green will need somebody to pick up some of the slack offensively. That player could be junior forward Ross Lougee, who scored his first career hat trick in an 11-1 win over Bishop Brady on Saturday.
Scoring is nothing new to Mike Hayden of Souhegan of Amherst. Hayden leads the state in scoring with 25 points in six games. The Sabers have sputtered over the last week, dropping two straight after starting 4-0.
There are only four teams left in the state without a loss or tie. They are Central in Div. I, Merrimack in Div. II (6-0) and both Berlin (6-0) and John Stark/Hopkinton in Div. III (6-0) . Bitter Seacoast rivals Dover and Spaulding of Rochester are both 5-0-1 in Division II .
Goffstown has won four in a row since starting out 0-2 in Div. II and Londonderry is 3-0-1 over its last four games in Div. I.
Mark Quirk covers high school hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.