Ian Clark's H.S. Hockey: D-III hockey's great divide
Will Mahoney of Gorham gets a shot past Eric Clark of Manchester West early in the second period of thier NHIAA matchup at JFK stadium Manchester on Wednesday afternoon. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)
That disparity was on display Wednesday when undefeated Belmont-Gilford (8-0-0) routed Manchester West (0-5-0) by an 11-1 score.
"Losing Pelham-Windham, Somersworth going up to DII, Alvirne, who I think should be DIII," said Belmont-Gilford head coach Jay Londer. "When we lost them it stunk because we had 10, 11 teams where every night was a battle, which was awesome."
"We're really deep and we roll three lines and five defenseman most every game," Londer said. "Some of the better teams...I think John Stark has three lines. Souhegan has three lines and only plays two. Kennett only has 13 skaters. Berlin runs two lines. The depth is key."
"We don't have a talent pool coming from anywhere. Basically, it's homegrown. Kids recruit kids to learn how to play just to keep a program going," Thompson said. "We have a handful of kids that have hockey experience and the rest are just learning to skate and play with the puck. We have one line that can play, but you can't play just one line. I try to run a balanced lineup and see if we can stay in these games."
Coaches like Londer will empty their benches in a one-sided game, as he did on Wednesday. But those third and fourth line kids who rarely see the ice want to score goals when they get into the game, too.
So the message for West is to play for the love of the game, which seems to be keeping the Blue Knights happy.
Londer said he sees the split coming at the No. 8 seed, with the top seven programs in DIII being competitive with one another.