NHIAA Boys' Hockey: Bulldogs light it upBy MATT VENSEL
Special to the Union Leader
March 04. 2018 1:22AM
GOFFSTOWN - If the Bedford boys' hockey team can keep playing as sharply as it did in the final two periods of Saturday's 7-2 victory over Trinity in the NHIAA Division I playoffs, Marty Myers may be forced to make one of the tougher choices of his decorated tenure as Bulldogs coach.
All his players have dyed their hair blonde in a show of solidarity, a Bedford playoff tradition Myers has not exactly embraced. There is no way he is going to bust out the bleach, too. But he did tell the Bulldogs that if they go all the way again this year, he will consider another suggested hairstyle.
"They want me to shave it if we win. But that remains to be seen," he said with a wry grin.
The Bulldogs are two victories away from a possible buzzcut - and their third straight state championship - after overcoming an early deficit and a slew of penalties Saturday at Sullivan Arena in Goffstown by netting six unanswered goals in route to a quarterfinals win.
Six players scored for the Bulldogs and senior goalie Conner Laurendeau, who joined the team this season, stood tall in his first career playoff start for the Bulldogs.
Eric Flynn scored for the Bulldogs just 28 seconds into the game. The Pioneers tied it up less than a minute later with a breakaway goal by James Kosiarski. They took a 2-1 lead near the end of the first period, not long after the Bulldogs took a five-minute penalty for a hit from behind, when Anthony Dizillo buried a rebound after a slick pad save by Laurendeau.
"They got that one early, and I thought there was going to be more to come," Myers said.
But the Bulldogs killed the rest of that major penalty, which stretched into the second period, then took over the game from there. Jack Sylvain and Parker Joyce scored power-play goals, the latter of the two goals somehow trickling across the goal line after cracking standout Pioneers goalie Ethan Messner in the helmet, to put the Bulldogs back on top, 3-2.
Laurendeau then stuffed Nathan Arcand on a penalty shot after the Pioneers forward faked backhand then pulled it to his forehand, only to find Laurendeau's left leg pad there waiting.
Moments later, after Messner made a nice save on a redirect by Kyle Greer on the doorstep, Greer whacked the rebound past Messner, giving Bedford a 4-2 lead after two periods.
During one sequence early in the third, Laurendeau came up large again, making two difficult saves, somehow squeezing the puck in one of his armpits on a point-blank shot.
Laurendeau stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced, several coming on quality scoring chances.
"I think the turning point for him was the penalty shot," Myers said. "That was a big save for us, and he made saves early in the third period. He saw more shots than I expected."
Bedford would put the game away with three more goals. Sylvain's second of the game came on an odd-man rush and was soon followed by goals from Kambal Vaidya and Nathan Musgrave.
Trinity coach Mike Connell lamented the opportunities squandered by his young squad but expressed hope for the program's future. The Pioneers started this season 3-6 then won nine straight games to make the playoffs and put up a fight against the two-time defending champs.
"The first period and a half, we had some opportunities that could have changed the way the game went," Connell said. "At the end, we got a little tired. But I'm very proud of the guys. The season was great. We got great goaltending . and the young guys stepped up for us all year. So overall, the season was fantastic, and I think it bodes well for us in the future."
In another corner of Sullivan Arena, the blonde Bedford boys were all smiles after powering into the semifinals. Other than all those penalties, Myers was pleased with their performance, too. But he knows tougher challenges await - and maybe even some hair clippers.
"We've got to be a little more disciplined, stay 5-on-5, and if we stay sharp on our power play, I think we have a shot," said Myers, his dark hair intact for at least another week.