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June 26. 2014 8:08PM

NH to play Vermont in Make-A-Wish hockey games

Steve Riker of Dover High is coaching in his fourth straight New Hampshire-Vermont Senior High School All-Star Hockey Classic to benefit Make-A-Wish. He says it’s an eye-opening experience for all the players. Make-A-Wish helps grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“Many of the players chosen to play in this game don’t really know anything about Make-A-Wish,” said Riker. “But believe me, in a span of 48 hours after learning about it, they grow up in a hurry. It’s really an educational experience.”

The 17th annual girls’ classic is Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by the 22nd annual boys’ game at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House in Burlington, Vt.

The top senior players from both states clash to help raise money for Make-A-Wish. The hockey classic has raised over $200,000 since its inception.

“It’s the best of the best competing for a great cause and I’m honored to be a part of this,” said first-year Berlin mentor Tanya Rosenberg, who is the New Hampshire girls’ head coach.

In the boys’ series, New Hampshire owns a 13-7-1 edge against Vermont. Riker, along with coaches Gary Smith of Lebanon and Paul George of Spaulding of Rochester, will pilot 12 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies Saturday.

New Hampshire will be led by Manchester Central goalie Ian Beliveau, who this season backstopped the Little Green to its first Division I title since 1981.

During the regular season, Beliveau had a 1.89 goals-against average with five shutouts and a .926 save percentage. He will share the goaltending duties with Joe Grout of Lebanon. Grout owned a 2.97 GAA with two shutouts and a .909 save percentage this season.

“Beliveau is a very fluid goalie who’s always square to the puck and is tough to beat,” said Riker. The five defensemen on the team are Bedford’s Patrick Gagliardi (seven goals, 13 assists, 20 points) and Michael Dee (9-11-20) along with Brett Evangelista (5-10-15) of Londonderry, Tim Tetrault (1-9-10) of Manchester Central and Cam Brown (3-7-10) of Trinity.

The offense features four players who scored over 20 goals this season: Connor Jewett of Berlin (51-26-77), Glenn Wiswell (30-17-47) of St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover, Brent Phillips (29-14-43) of Spaulding High of Rochester and Curtis Harper of Londonderry (21-15-36).

Mitch Myers (18-9-27) of Trinity, Nate Boyd (13-13-26) of Bedford, Harrison Voloshin (10-10-20) of Bedford, Niall Foster of St. Thomas (12-28-40), Eric Coburn (10-35-45) of Londonderry, Jake Latham of Nashua, Felix Nyqvist (12-15-27) of Somersworth and Mike Hayden of Souhegan of Amherst (15-27-42) round out the talented roster.

Asked if he had his lines set for Saturday’s game, Riker said “I’m going to let the players decide who plays on what line.”

In the girls’ game, goalies Lauren Owsowitz of Bishop Brady/Trinity and Emily Gougelet of Hanover will protect the cage, along with defensemen Sandra Strogen of Oyster River of Durham, Jessica Mark-Anthony of Oyster River, Caroline Howell of Hanover, Jill Holden of St. Thomas/Dover, Shayna Murphy of St. Thomas/Dover and Aubrie Mazurek of Lebanon.

The forwards are Arianna Harris of Bishop Brady/Trinity, Kaitlyn Wurzer of Lee (and Berwick Academy of Eliot, Maine), Grace Tecca of Hanover, Rebecca Begley of Holderness School, Melissa Houde of Bishop Brady/Trinity, Micaela Schones of Lebanon, Maggie McNamara of Oyster River, Annie Mullen of Concord, Brooke Avery of St. Paul’s School, Emily Landry of Berlin, Sarah Muller of Hanover and Abbey Raiche of St. Thomas/Dover.

“I played for Berlin until I graduated in 2007 and since then I’ve seen our sport grow stronger,” said Rosenberg, who is coaching with Brad Shaw of Lebanon and Al Oliveira of St. Thomas. “Everyone on our team will get to play and we’re expecting a tough game against Vermont.”

The New Hampshire Charlie Holt Sportsmanship and MVP Awards will be presented after the boys’ and girls’ games to deserving Granite State players.

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