MANCHESTER — It wasn't pretty, but Manchester Central will take it.
The Little Green opened their boys' ice hockey slate with a 3-1 win over Pinkerton Academy of Derry at JFK Coliseum Wednesday night.
Central scored two goals in the opening two minutes, but much of the rest of the game was played on special teams as 15 penalties were called.
"I was happy for about four minutes of the game and that was about it," said Central head coach Brian Stone. "The rest of it was horrendous. Too many penalties, it wasn't our kind of hockey or what I teach or condone."
Pinkerton (0-1-1) took advantage of five minutes of power-play time to open the second period when Central's Ian Low was called for contact to the head of Astros senior captain Ryan Christie at the end of the first frame.
The Astros made it a 2-1 game 28 seconds into the period when Bailey Walsh's slap shot from above the left circle was tipped in front by Tyler Poole to beat Little Green senior goalie Ian Beliveau over the shoulder stick-side.
Pinkerton was not able to cash in again on the five-minute major, however.
"We opened up the second on the PP and gained momentum back and used that as a way to even the play, which was nice," said Pinkerton head coach Joey Lee. "I would have liked to get that second one to even it up. I felt like we were trying to fight it."
The Astros had a golden opportunity early in the third period when Ryan Monte and Walsh broke in alone on Beliveau two-on-none, but Walsh's shot went wide of the net.
Central was able to score a power-play goal with 1:02 remaining in the game to cap the scoring and close out the win.
The puck was played into the Pinkerton zone and came off the boards awkwardly, bouncing in front and off an Astros player into the net. Central senior Noah Duplessis was credited with the goal to make it 3-1.
Stone said he was happy with the win, but it was tough to figure out his team's makeup because of all the special teams hockey in the game.
"I still don't know what I've got because we played shorthanded and some power plays," Stone said. "It just throws the whole game off."
Central opened the scoring 1:20 into the game when Low picked up a loose puck during a net-front scrum and cut in front, backhanding a shot under the crossbar for the 1-0 lead.
Just 11 seconds later it was 2-0 when Logan Pacheco scored from the left wing circle.
"I was concerned because we didn't have practice Monday, (Tuesday) got cancelled so we came in not having seen the ice since Saturday," Stone said. "I was concerned about where our legs were at but when we popped home two I was like 'yee-haw.'"
Lee called a timeout to calm his Astros team down, especially junior goalie Brendan Murphy, a transfer from Minnesota who was making his first varsity start.
"Central came out hard. This was their season-opener and they came out with a lot of energy. We were not able to match it early," Lee said. "We blink and we're down two and staring at the scoreboard. I took a time out and we caught our breath and it stabilized things for a while."
Murphy seemed to benefit from the timeout and recovered to turn aside 21 shots in an effort Lee said got better as the game wore on.
On the other end, Beliveau was exactly what Stone expected. The assistant captain made 19 saves.
"He's solid," Stone said. "He was solid all last year for me so I'm comfortable there."