NHIAA Hockey Finals Notebook: Bedford goalie Tempesta again rises to occasion
MANCHESTER - There's nothing better in the playoffs than a goalie who performs well under pressure, and over the past two seasons the Bedford High School hockey team has had just that in Stevan Tempesta.
Last year he stymied Dover as a sophomore as the Bulldogs picked up their first title. And this year he held the high-powered Merrimack offense to just two goals at Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday, leading Bedford to a second straight Division II championship.
Tempesta finished with 23 saves in the game, including two crucial ones on Div. II scoring leader Connor Powell late in the third period.
"A lot of times you see pressure break kids," Tempesta said. "I like playing on the big stage. The more people in the stands, the better I play."
He's a big reason why the Bulldogs finished the season on a seven-game winning streak and why they have another trophy.
MERRIMACK coach Kurt Mithoefer said the fact that his team lost two in a row to Bedford to finish the regular season had no impact on the title game. In fact, he said, it may have helped the Tomahawks in a way.
"If anything, it showed us what we needed to do," Mithoefer said. "The first and third period, we did what we needed to do. The second period, we got away from it a little."
HANOVER'S 3-1 triumph over Oyster River in the girls' state championship game gave the Marauders their fifth title in the last six years. Hanover outscored its opponents 113-14 this season, and after Saturday's game Hanover coach John Dodds was asked if this was the most dominant team he's coached.
"I don't want to say it's the most dominant," Dodds said. "What we have is maybe a more balanced team than we've ever had. We have three lines, and there's not too many teams in the state that can skate three lines."
Hanover scored in double digits in four of its games and didn't allow more than two goals in any of its 20 contests.
THE COOPERATIVE team combining players from John Stark Regional of Weare and Hopkinton High won 11 games in a row after its 8-2 loss to Berlin during the regular season and scored at least five goals in nine of those 11 contests. The Generals were averaging 6.4 goals a game entering the championship on Saturday.
Senior tri-captain Simon Hunter became the hero in the final when he intercepted a pass, broke in alone and scored the game-winning goal with 3:30 left in overtime.
"Like each of our captains, he provides a lot of leadership," John Stark/Hopkinton coach Denis Kolehmainen said. "If we were ever going to a shootout, he'd be in it."
It was the team's second trip to the title game. The Generals lost to Souhegan of Amherst, 3-1, in 2007.
The final was the 28th appearance in a title game for Berlin. The other 27 came when the Mountaineers were in Division I. They haven't won a title since 1976.