NASHUA — When Windham made the move to Division I this year, there were probably some who wondered if it was a good decision. One group that never gave it a second thought was the Jaguars themselves.
Reaching the midpoint of the regular season, Windham has proven it belongs. Following Saturday night’s one-sided 5-1 victory over Nashua South-Pelham at Conway Arena, the Jaguars are 5-2-1 and should make the postseason if they remain on their current pace.
“Playing in Division I has benefited us,” said Jaguars coach Shawn Dunn. “It’s easier to keep these kids focused and have them work on certain goals. The biggest difference is even the teams that might not have great records still give you a good compete level every night. That’s what we were looking for.”
In a contest that was only close for about two minutes, Windham proved dominant at both ends of the ice. The Jaguars finished with 42 shots while holding the spiraling Kings (2-4, and losers of four straight) to 19.
A wild and woolly first period, in which both teams combined for 25 shots, saw Nashua South-Pelham grab its only lead just 1:32 in. Senior Joe Moore, positioned in the low slot, lifted a backhand shot past Andoni Tsoukalas for a 1-0 lead.
But the Jaguars, who carry just four seniors, rebounded nicely for the remainder of the period and the rest of the game by netting three unanswered goals. Mike Blaschuk’s power-play tally off a rebound knotted things at 8:46.
Then in the closing minute of the period, Windham put the game away after erupting for a pair of goals within a span of eight seconds. Aidan Granahan’s re-direction of an Owen Larouco’s shot at 14:42 put the Jaguars ahead to stay. Then, with Larouco still on the ice for the next shift, made it 3-1 with a hard wrist shot from the right circle into the far side of the net.
The Jaguars’ offensive pace never let up moving forward. Just 2:59 into the middle frame, Blaschuk, a senior, notched his second marker with a hard shot from the high slot, which caromed off of Nolan Lacroix’s catching glove and trickled over the goal line.
“After they got that goal it was important for us to get that goal back and take the momentum away from them,” Blaschuk said. “As a team we try to move the puck quick, keep our heads up and continuously talk to one another which has been a key for us. Tonight we did that.”
The Kings, looking flustered, had difficulty all evening trying to steer pucks away of their own zone as Windham continued to press. When Nashua South-Pelham did have opportunities, passes were either intercepted or off the mark. Bobby DiCicco man-advantage goal in the third closed out the scoring for Windham.
“We try to clog up lanes and work on transition,” said Dunn. “Whenever the puck turns over we try to move it up ice quickly and not give opposing teams a chance to react. Tonight I felt we did that.”