MANCHESTER — Manchester Central survived a wild third period to emerge with a 6-5 win over Nashua South in NHIAA Division I boys' ice hockey action at JFK Coliseum Monday night.
South (0-5-2) fell behind 6-1 but mounted a furious comeback as Central (5-1-0) emptied its bench in the third.
"We started to get a few on them so I wanted to play everybody — which I did most of the night," said Central head coach Brian Stone. "It's one of those things where you want to try and get everybody in. They work hard in practice so I want to see kids play."
Central made it a 4-1 score with a goal from Ian Low 1:28 into the third. Stone then sent senior backup netminder Brendan O'Neil in for Ian Beliveau.
The Little Green pushed the lead to 5-1 at 4:18 when freshman Bowen Bilodeau snapped a shot off South goalie Alex Bender's glove and in.
South senior backup Alex Lake came in to man the nets for South at that point, giving up a goal to Colin Pacheco at 4:33 to make it 6-1.
And then things got crazy.
South sophomore Bryan Connolly scored on a wrist shot from the right circle at 6:53. Less than three minutes later, Arya Saliany scored on a breakway off a designed play from a faceoff when Owen McNulty sent him away with a breakout pass off the left boards.
At 10:22, South made it a 6-4 game when Connolly tallied again, knocking his own rebound out of the air and in.
Then with 48 seconds remaining and South's net empty for an extra attacker, Purple Panther Steven Saucier banged home a shot from the slot off an Alkim Dato feed and suddenly it was a one-goal game.
Stone sent Beliveau back in to finish up and he was tested, but Central hung on for the win.
"It was a wild finish. They put in their backup and we put in our backup. We were finally able to get a little momentum going and some shots on net," said South coach Eric Momnie. "Their starter is a phenomenal goalie and he didn't give us much. Once we got a couple bounces and got a couple to go in, our spirits lifted and we gave them a game there at the end."
Central led 1-0 after one period on a Noah Duplessis jam-in through the pads of Bender at 3:51. But despite the lead, Stone felt his kids were suffering from a letdown after a big 3-0 win Saturday over city rival Manchester Memorial.
"We were very sluggish. It was the calm after the storm," Stone said. "I didn't see much in the locker room from the get-go. We wanted to get going and bury them early and we didn't get it moving."
Momnie said he felt Central's lack of energy as well and knew his team missed an opportunity to get on the Little Green in the first frame.
"We got on our guys after the first," Momnie said. "That's part of our problem right now is that we come out a little slow and once things start happening for us, then we start to build momentum. Our problem is getting that first boost."
Central built a 3-0 lead, getting a power-play goal from Pacheco at 10:34 of the second period and another tally from Patrick Barry at 13:46.
South got its lone goal on Beliveau with 18 seconds remaining in the second when freshman defenseman Tony Columbus' shot from the right point hit traffic in front and deflected inside the left post, leaving the score 3-1 after two periods.
Up next for Central will be a test at JFK from Londonderry (5-2-0) Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
"I know they were one of the teams I picked to be at the top. You always want to beat teams like that," Stone said. "We've got to come play and give an effort like we had Saturday (against Memorial) to beat them."