MANCHESTER — In their final game for the John Stark/Hopkinton boys’ hockey team, seniors Paul Molnar and Jameson Bourque lifted the General Hawks to a 1-0 victory over Monadnock/Fall Mountain and a second consecutive NHIAA Division III title Saturday at SNHU Arena.
Molnar scored the game’s lone goal off an assist from Brett Patnode 46 seconds into the third period. Molnar’s tally marked the first shot on goal by either team in the frame.
“He’s been a big part of our team,” Bourque said of Molnar. “We count on him a lot to put the puck in the net and he certainly helped us pull through today.”
Bourque made 18 saves to earn the shutout, marking the ninth time the top-seeded General Hawks (20-1) held an opponent scoreless this season. Bourque, who split time during the season with sophomore Caysen Allard, said he recorded eight shutouts on the year.
“Jameson came up huge for us again,” John Stark/Hopkinton coach Denis Kolehmainen said. “He definitely deserved the game puck, which I gave to him.”
Second-seeded Monadnock/Fall Mountain (17-4) pulled senior netminder Isaac Jasinski with 1:28 remaining and created pressure in the offensive zone afterward but could not solve Bourque. Monadnock/Fall Mountain standout senior forward Chris Boucher played the final four minutes of the contest.
“We do not quit,” Huskies coach Steve Walsh said. “That’s what we go by. That’s what our practice jerseys say. We don’t give in....Right down to the last second we had a chance. It just didn’t go.”
The General Hawks outshot Monadnock/Fall Mountain by a 9-3 margin over the opening period but the latter nearly took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Boucher was denied on his shot from the doorstep following a cross-ice feed from classmate Josh Roy with 25.3 seconds left in the opening frame.
“They definitely brought it all today,” Bourque said of the Huskies. “They gave it everything they got and it definitely showed.”
John Stark/Hopkinton sophomore Tyler Scordo nearly opened the game’s scoring inside the final 30 seconds of the second period. The forward’s initial shot from the slot was turned away by Jasinski (27 saves). Following Jasinski’s save, the puck bounced right back to Scordo but the latter lost his stick following his first shot.
John Stark/Hopkinton had a 19-8 shots advantage over the opening two periods and outshot the Huskies, 28-18, overall.
The title appearance marked Monadnock/Fall Mountain’s first since Monadnock won the 2003 Division III title as a standalone program.
The Huskies’ varsity program folded after the 2010-11 season before returning to the division for the 2016-17 season. Monadnock played two years at the junior varsity level before returning to varsity status three seasons ago.
“I just want our kids to keep getting better and better and better and play the system that I ask,” Walsh said. “Some of them had three years of it and I think it showed. This is how far we’ve come. They’ve done what we’ve asked to the best of their ability.”
Saturday marked John Stark/Hopkinton’s third win over the Huskies. The General Hawks swept the regular-season series between the two with 6-0 and 5-4 victories.
“It was a dog fight right to the end,” Kolehmainen said. “I was holding my breath at the end.”