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March 06. 2013 11:01PM

NHIAA Div. III Boys' Hockey: Berlin, Stark/Hopkinton advance

CONCORD - The top two seeds in Division III NHIAA ice hockey tournament are still standing.

John Stark-Hopkinton, seeded-second, skated to a 4-0 lead early and never looked back in a 7-2 win over No. 3 Souhegan of Amherst in the first game at Everett Arena Wednesday night. In the nightcap, top-ranked and unbeaten Berlin defeated No. 5 Kennett of Conway, 5-2.

The Division III championship game will take place Saturday at Verizon Wireless Arena at 12:15 p.m

John Stark-Hopkinton 7, Souhegan 2: The onslaught began with a four-goal first period for John Stark-Hopkinton (18-1-1). The pressure was there early on, but the JSH squad did not break onto the scoreboard until the 7:52 mark, when Keith Galli stole the puck along the right wing boards and snapped a shot past Ryan Peterson inside the near post.

Just 33 seconds later it was 2-0 when defenseman Alex Lajeunesse's shot from the left circle found banked off Peterson's pads and trickled in. Simon Hunter made it 3-0 at 12:30, stealing the puck at center ice and breaking in alone to beat Peterson. Senior Callahan Loos closed the first period scoring with a goal at 14:10 to push the lead to 4-0.

"We were forcehecking hard, which helped the play. We kept it down deep and went straight to the net. Everything that came out, we dropped it back down and worked it from the corners," JSH head coach Denis Kolehmainen said. "We jumped on them hard."

Souhegan (14-6-0) came out with some jump to start the second period, but encountered a speed bump in the form of a fifth JSH goal 38 seconds in. Garrett Thomas banged in a rebound shot from close range to make it 5-0.

But the Sabers continued to push back, finally breaking through on goalie Connor McDonald at 2:50 of the second. Junior Michael Hayden scored a power-play goal with a wrist shot off the right post and in.

Stark-Hopkinton came back to make it 6-1 at 4:45 on a Ryan Hawkes goal. Souhegan fired the final shot of the middle frame, scoring at 8:23 to make it 6-2 with a goal from Hayden from the left circle. Lajeunesse scored the lone goal of the third period at 1:14 to account for the 7-1 final.

"We wish we could re-do that first period. That's pretty much it. We got off to a slow start and couldn't recover," Souhegan head coach Dan Belliveau said. "They gave it all. They left everything out there."

Berlin 5, Kennett 2: Junior Connor Jewett staked Berlin to a 2-0 lead with a pair of first period goals and the top-ranked Mountaineers (20-0) were on their way.

Berlin also got goals from Justin Vien, Trevor Labrecque and Mike Lemoine. Kennett (11-9-0) pulled within two goals, 3-1, on a second period tally from junior defenseman Dane Rivera.

A late goal from freshman Bryan Baker made it 5-2 with 1:30 left in the game.

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