The Berlin/Gorham boys hockey team played for more than itself in its 5-1 victory over Hollis/Brookline/Derryfield in the NHIAA Division III championship game Saturday at Everett Arena in Concord.
Mountaineers coach Mike Poulin said his team wanted to win the championship for the community and Berlin’s field hockey and cross-country teams that missed their chance to compete in their respective fall finals due to a positive COVID-19 case within the school building.
“We mentioned it a few times,” Poulin said. “They (the players) knew what was at stake. We just played like there was something bigger than ourselves.”
Berlin/Gorham (14-2-1) led 2-0 entering the first intermission. Senior forward Tyler Rousseau, who finished with a hat trick, opened the game’s scoring at the 5:25 mark and junior forward Brayden Riendeau tipped the puck in from the doorstep with 5:32 left in the opening period.
Poulin said the Mountaineers, who shared last year’s division title with Kennett of Conway, focused on scoring early after their 5-3 semifinal win over Lebanon/Stevens/Kearsarge in which they recorded all their goals in the final period.
Berlin/Gorham kept the scoring going in the second and third period, building a 5-0 lead before Hollis/Brookline/Derryfield (4-2-1) got on the board with 1:11 remaining. Rousseau tallied his second goal on the power play on a shot from the left circle with 3:35 left in the second period and capped his team’s scoring in the third period. Freshman forward Jamison Walsh gave Berlin/Gorham a 4-0 lead with his goal that came with 5:55 left.
Poulin credited his team’s offensive success on Saturday to the heart and grit it has shown all season.
“Honestly, I think that’s the signature of our community,” Poulin said. “We continue to work hard.”
Senior forward Sal Vella scored the lone goal for Hollis/Brookline/Derryfield.
Freshman Kolin Melanson earned the win in goal for Berlin/Gorham. Melanson split time in net with sophomore Anthony Pizzuto throughout the season.
When the Mountaineers arrived back at the high school around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, they were welcomed by a parking lot full of students and community members.
“It was amazing,” Poulin said. “The kids there were so excited and they’re our fans. We have a rowdy fan base when we play. ... That makes it special for me — the high school memories these guys are going to have forever.”
Div. II: Dover wins in OT
Dover began its Division II postseason run with a 7-1 quarterfinal win over Winnacunnet of Hampton, which marked its first day back on the ice following an 11-day shut down.
The Green Wave finished by hoisting their seventh state championship plaque on their home ice at Dover Ice Arena following a 2-1 overtime triumph over rival Somersworth/Coe-Brown on Saturday.
“It kind of went in line with how the season has been — a crazy ending to a great game,” Dover coach Mike Young said.
Cousins Dante and Dario Ceppetelli connected on the game-winning goal, which came 2:21 into the extra frame. Dario fed the puck to Dante, who went five-hole on Somersworth/Coe-Brown sophomore goaltender Rylye Coe (20 saves) to clinch the championship for Dover (14-1).
“(If you) keep getting pucks to the net, good things can happen,” Young said. “Dario and Dante, they’ve been huge for us all year. I was happy for those guys.”
Somersworth/Coe-Brown (10-5-1) forced overtime via sophomore forward Jonny Pelletier’s rebound, back-door goal that came with 2:18 left in regulation.
During the intermission before overtime, Young said senior captain and goaltender Devon Lapierre (27 saves) rallied his teammates.
“He was extremely vocal, telling the boys to give everything they’ve got,” Young said of Lapierre. “He did not want to lose that game. He’s been our backbone all year.”
Dover opened the game’s scoring with 5:10 left in the first period, when senior forward Asa Forbes scored a back-door goal off assists from sophomores Brady McDonough and Parker Fleury.
The victory concluded a season that started with Young running onto the ice in his shoes during practice the day before its first game after he watched the school board give the team approval to compete. Fittingly, the Green Wave faced Somersworth/Coe-Brown in their season-opener the next day, a 5-0 win on Jan. 20.
“That’s the memory that will stick with me forever — their excitement to play,” Young said.
Div. I: Concord dominates
Concord senior twin brothers Zach and Noah Drew combined to score more goals in the first period of Saturday’s Division I final at JFK Coliseum in Manchester than Salem allowed over its previous 15 games.
The Drew twins scored twice each over the opening 15 minutes to give Concord a 4-0 lead entering the first intermission. Concord went on to win, 7-0.
Salem (14-2) allowed three or fewer goals in every game leading up to the final.
Zach, who skates on the third line, opened the game’s scoring 2:23 into the opening period and provided the Crimson Tide (16-2) a three-goal cushion with his second tally, which came at the 5:11 mark of the period. Noah, who skates on the second line, scored both his goals off assists from Parker Frederickson.
“We came out and played so well,” Concord coach Dunc Walsh said. “The key to our game is our forecheck. ... I thought from the start we were just tenacious on it, cashed in on some goals early on. That changed the whole game.”
Concord, which shared the division title with Bedford last year, took a 5-0 lead into the third period after Tyler Coskren’s goal that came with 1:14 left in the second frame. Frederickson and senior defenseman Alex Forward (power play) notched the Crimson Tide’s third-period goals.
Concord junior goaltender Kevin Jones made 10 saves. Salem senior netminder Spencer Deane made 27 stops.
The Blue Devils went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill and 0-for-3 on the power play. Each of their man-advantage opportunities came in the second period.
“I would say certainly our last three games, we played our best when it mattered most,” Walsh said. “All year the kids were wanting to get the chance to play in that (final) game. They got the opportunity and when they got the opportunity, they took advantage of it and proved we’re the best team.”