GOFFSTOWN — Chris McIntosh doesn’t have time to think about a repeat. The second-year Keene High boys’ hockey coach is more concerned about the here and now. Barring any type of catastrophe, Keene, should once again qualify for the postseason tournament.
However, the concept of McIntosh seeing his club hoist a second consecutive NHIAA Division II state championship trophy is a mere aberration at the moment as his Blackbirds still have a ways to go to reach that pinnacle.
The road got a bit rougher as Keene’s on-ice demeanor appeared sloppy and lethargic at times and allowed Goffstown to take full advantage as the Grizzlies recorded a well-earned 4-3 victory Sunday at Thomas F. Sullivan Arena.
“The kids played very well tonight,” said Grizzlies coach Ben Slocum. “Keene is a very good hockey team so we knew we had to stay with them and contain them inside the offensive zone. I thought we did a nice job at that.”
Leading 2-1 after the opening frame, the Blackbirds stumbled in the second period. The Grizzlies score three times to grab a 4-2 lead and never look back. It all started after Jerred Tattersall was handed a five-minute major for interference. Goffstown converted that infraction into a pair of power-play goals.
The first came from Sebastian Beal, whose long-range shot deflected off of Keene goalie Jacob Russell’s right shoulder and into the net. Just 1:21 later, Griffin Cook pushed back a rebound to make it 3-2. With under two minutes to go, Colby Gamache banked home another rebound as Keene appeared to be doing more puck watching instead of attacking and defending.
“We knew we had to play smart and we didn’t,” McIntosh said. “Our kids need to figure it out. At times we show up as a good team but during other times we show up mediocre. The mediocre version of us is not going to beat teams. Tonight that second period was the death of us and we never recovered.”
Tattersall notched his second score of the night late in the third to make things interesting. But in the end, the Grizzlies were able to hold on for the triumph. Goffstown finished with 32 shots to Keene’s 21.
Goffstown (10-3-1) opened the game the more aggressive unit, outworking Keene (10-5-1) for several loose pucks and beating them into the offensive zone. But it was the Blackbirds who struck first. Tattersall picked up a loose puck deep in his own defensive zone and proceeded to beat everyone down ice before slipping a shot past Goffstown goaltender Kyle LaSella at 4:10.
But the Grizzlies answered a minute later. After two shots caromed off Russell, Beal found the puck on his stick and quickly slid it into the open left side of the net to make it 1-1. The momentum swing was short-lived though after Keene jumped back out in front thanks to Brian Langevin’s re-direct of a Tyler Summer’s shot, coming at 9:29. The score stayed that way heading into the first intermission.
“There is nothing easy in this division,” added Slocum. “Everyone is good and can beat you. For us, we just need to keep playing the way we have been. Tonight, taking advantage of that five-minute penalty was huge for us.”