Division III hockey: John Stark-Hopkinton draws defending champ Kennett in title game

  • John Stark-Hopkinton sophomore Brett Patnode (center) celebrates his second goal of Friday’s Division III semifinal victory against Monadnock-Fall Mountain. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

  • Jameson Bourque earned his first shutout of the season as the John Stark-Hopkinton hockey team defeated Monadnock-Fall Mountain, 2-0, in Friday’s Division III semifinal in Plymouth.  Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

  • The John Stark-Hopkinton General Hawks celebrate their Division III semifinal win over Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Friday at Plymouth State University. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

  • Kennett’s Trevor Olivier (18) skates with the puck as Belmont-Gilford’s Miles Defosses pursues in Friday’s second semifinal game at Plymouth State University. Kennett won, 6-1. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Saturday, March 10, 2018

PLYMOUTH – Four years since finishing runner-up and five years since winning its last title, John Stark-Hopkinton is making its return to the Division III final.

Brett Patnode scored a pair of goals and junior netminder Jameson Bourque earned his first shutout of the season as the General Hawks dispatched Monadnock-Fall Mountain, 2-0, in the Division III semifinals at Plymouth State University on Friday.

No. 2 John Stark-Hopkinton (15-3-2) will face No. 1 Kennett for the championship at Manchester’s SNHU Arena on Saturday. Puck drop is 2:45 p.m.

No. 3 Monadnock-Fall Mountain closed the season with an overall record of 15-5. 

Patnode, a sophomore captain for Stark, buried a wrist shot past Monadnock’s Isaac Jasinski for a 1-0 General Hawks lead 14 seconds into the second period.

Noah Chapman fought off a Monadnock skater for the puck in the corner. Chapman skated toward the net and placed the puck on Patnode’s forehand as he crossed the ice toward the goal. Patnode saw space to shoot and sent a wrister by Jasinski’s blocker.

“My linemate Noah just got in there and dug it out hard,” Patnode said.

The General Hawks peppered Jasinski with 16 shots in the first period before Patnode capitalized in the second.

“It was a huge relief,” Stark-Hopkinton coach Denis Kolehmainen said. “Their goalie played really well in that first period.”

Monadnock tested Bourque 13 times throughout the game, and he handled each one.

Bourque’s teammates were waiting for him to shut out an opponent. It came at the right time.

“I kept telling my team the shutout will come when it needs to come,” he said. “(Monadnock is) a tough team and it just felt like I had to bring it tonight.”

Monadnock nearly evened the score midway through the second period when Greg Chase’s shot hit the left post.

Patnode scored his second goal of the night – and his third of playoffs – with 7:41 left in the third period. 

Jasinski made two saves on back-to-back shots by Chapman and Nolan Sauer from close range. He couldn’t handle a third as Patnode crashed in and flicked a backhand shot off a rebound toward the wide-open net for a 2-0 lead.

The Huskies were outscored by Stark-Hopkinton, 13-2, during the regular season. Monadnock coach Steven Walsh implemented a zone defense following their last game against Stark, a 7-1 loss on Jan. 10.

Monadnock played Stark closer than they had in either of their regular-season meetings, and Walsh was pleased in that regard.

“We’re not as deep, but we couldn’t ask for any more than what our kids gave,” Walsh said. “Right to the very last second they scratched and clawed.”

No. 1 Kennett 6, No. 5 Belmont-Gilford 1

Kennett got off to a quick start with two goals in the first three minutes and Belmont-Gilford spent the next 42 minutes chasing the Eagles.

Cam Jarvi gave the Bulldogs hope with his second-period goal, but that was all they could muster against the defending champions as Kennett knocked out Belmont-Gilford, 6-1, in Thursday’s second semifinal at Plymouth State.

“They got the jump, gained some momentum and we were in the hole,” Belmont-Gilford coach Dave Saball said. “We had our chances, but obviously they didn’t go in.”

No. 1 Kennett is making a second straight trip to SNHU Arena, where it will face No. 2 John Stark-Hopkinton for the championship at 2:45 p.m. Saturday. 

No. 5 Belmont-Gilford, runner-up in 2016, finished the season 11-8-1.

Connor Doucet scored a short-handed goal with 5:18 left in the second period for a 3-0 Kennett lead.

Jarvi scored with 90 seconds later off an assist from Harrison Parent, breathing some life back into the Bulldogs’ bench.

They continued to fire away through the end of the period, but the second intermission may have put out whatever momentum gained by Jarvis’s strike.

“These guys didn’t even want the Zamboni to come out,” Saball said. “They wanted to go.”

Belmont-Gilford nearly cut the deficit to one when Parent gathered a rebound near the net. Kennett’s John Biggio (15 saves) handled the shot, and Colby Couture scored less than a minute later, pushing the Eagles to a 4-1 advantage.

Trevor LaRusso was denied by Belmont-Gilford netminder Colin McGreevy (16 saves) on a penalty shot with 8:55 left in the third. 

Michael Seavey and Jeffrey Palmer added two more goals late in the third for the Eagles, giving them a 6-1 lead.

“These kids are hungry,” Kennett coach Michael Lane said. “They expect to play important games in March. That’s the expectation every year we put on the kids and, for the most part, they meet those expectations.”

Seavey (two goals, two assists) led Kennett onto the scoreboard 1:54 into the first period. Reilly Murphy gave the Eagles a two-goal lead 52 seconds later. 

Belmont-Gilford won its last title in 2015.

“When I think of every one of (our players), they gave it everything they had,” Saball said. “They faced a really good team and gave them a battle for a really long time. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)