Valuzzi scores hat trick as Merrimack rolls over Dover
MANCHESTER - When it comes to the Merrimack High hockey team, opposing teams have to choose their poison.
Dover did a good job containing Connor Powell on Monday, but not so much against Dom Valuzzi. The senior captain scored three goals and assisted on two others as the Tomahawks remained undefeated with a 6-2 win over the Green Wave in Division II action at West Side Arena.
"Connor and Dom are a one-two punch," Merrimack coach Kurt Mithoefer said. "Connor has a target on his back. He's one of the tops in the state right now, has had a lot of success against teams and Dom stepped up the way he needed to."
Merrimack skates only two lines, but both of those lines are talented. Powell anchors one while Valuzzi anchors the other, and it was his line that capitalized against Dover.
It was a rematch of the 2011 Division II championship won by Dover and a matchup between two of the best teams in the league. Merrimack improved to 13-0 with the win and Dover, which was coming off a big win over defending champ Bedford, dropped to 8-4-1.
"They're good," Dover coach Steve Riker said about Merrimack. "They're good and they play well together. We just didn't play well today. We played to lose and didn't play to win."
Valuzzi scored the only goal of the first period and then two more for the hat trick after the Green Wave had tied it up 2-2 in the second. He scored the eventual game winner with nine minutes left in the period to make it 3-2 and then added insurance to make it 4-2 with 3:34 remaining before the second intermission.
Powell, the leading scorer in Division II, gets a lot of attention and deservedly so. But Valuzzi is just as capable to go off for a big game like he did on Monday.
"I guess I was feeling it," Valuzzi said. "It's easy to score goals and make assists when you've got good guys around you."
Merrimack carried a 1-0 lead into the second period and went up 2-0 when Jason Fortin struck at 1:13 of the second on a feed from Valuzzi.
Then the Green Wave struck back with two of their own to knot things up.
Eli Cobb scored the first one to make it 2-1 with 12:30 left in the second and then Ben Henderson netted the equalizer a couple minutes later when Dover was shorthanded.
Henderson picked off a sloppy pass by the Tomahawk defense and closed straight on the net, where he managed to stuff a shot between the post and Merrimack goalie Brett Glendye's (21 saves) right pad.
It didn't take the Tomahawks long to regain the lead.
Valuzzi gave his team the lead for good when he responded with a shorthanded goal of his own.
He stole a pass near mid ice and raced into the Dover zone on a breakaway. He made one nice move and tucked the puck in the net past Dover goalie Luc Ravenelle (36 saves) to make it 3-2 at the six-minute mark of the second.
"I saw an opening between the two defensemen," Valuzzi said. "I took it, skated with it, used my speed and ended up deking the goalie."
Valuzzi then got his hat trick with 3:34 left in the second and the Tomahawks pulled away with two goals in the third. Josh Roy scored on the power play to make it 5-2 with 6:28 remaining and Powell netted a shorthanded goal to round out the scoring at 6-2 with 4:12 left.
"I remember sophomore year when they beat us in the championship," Valuzzi said. "I still have a little fire in me about that. Whenever we play a big team like this I get fired up."
Dover not only lost the game but lost a player as well to injury. Andrew Ibechem went into the boards hard with 5:05 left in the third period and was on the ice for a while. He eventually got up and skated off the ice under his own power, but was taken to the hospital in an ambulance after the game for what Riker said was a shoulder injury.
Merrimack 6, Dover 2
Dover (8-4-1) 0 2 0 - 2
Merrimack (13-0) 1 3 2 - 6
First: M - Dom Valuzzi (Josh Roy, Jason Fortin) 11:43 ppg
Second: M - Fortin (Valuzzi) 1:13; D - Eli Cobb (Robert Markusic) 2:30; D - Ben Henderson (unassisted) 4:37 shg; M - Valuzzi (unassisted) 6:00 shg; M - Valuzzi (Shane Foye) 11:26
Third: M - Roy (Valuzzi) 8:32 ppg; M - Connor Powell (unassisted) 10:48 shg
Goalies: D - Luc Ravenelle 36; M - Brett Glendye 21