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Bow hockey back in postseason and eyeing tournament run

  • Bow's Colin Tracy pats teammate Peter Forrest on the head after Bow Bow defeated Somersworth/Coe-Brown in the last regular season game at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Bow won 6-1.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bow's Colin Tracy pats teammate Peter Forrest on the head after Bow Bow defeated Somersworth/Coe-Brown in the last regular season game at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Bow won 6-1.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bow's Chris Fournier, left, and Doug Champagne celebrate a goal during Bow's last regular season game against Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Bow won 6-1.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bow's Chris Fournier, left, and Doug Champagne celebrate a goal during Bow's last regular season game against Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Bow won 6-1.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bow head coach Tim Walsh speaks to the players in the locker room before the game against Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Bow won 6-1.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bow head coach Tim Walsh speaks to the players in the locker room before the game against Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Bow won 6-1.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bow's Colin Tracy pats teammate Peter Forrest on the head after Bow Bow defeated Somersworth/Coe-Brown in the last regular season game at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Bow won 6-1.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bow's Chris Fournier, left, and Doug Champagne celebrate a goal during Bow's last regular season game against Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Bow won 6-1.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bow head coach Tim Walsh speaks to the players in the locker room before the game against Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Everett Arena in Concord on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Bow won 6-1.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

The Division II hockey tournament is underway. And despite the predictions from many, the Bow Falcons are right in the middle of it.

“Everyone told them we were going to be terrible,” Coach Tim Walsh said.

So much for predictions. The postseason has begun and everything looks pretty much the way it usually does at this time of year. There’s Bedford. There’s Dover. And there’s Bow, the third seed at 14-3-1, and a team that enters the tournament as an intriguing contradiction.

The Falcons are happy to be here, as they should be given those preseason projections. But they’re far from satisfied, given both the work that’s ahead of them and the memories from a loss in last year’s semifinal that remind them of how much it stings to fall short.

“These guys want to win a state championship,” said Walsh, whose team opens tomorrow night by hosting No. 6 Goffstown. “They look out here (at Everett Arena) and they see the

Concord High banner, they see their banner from 2010. They weren’t on that team, they weren’t here. They were in eighth grade, these kids that are seniors. They want to win a state championship.”

Start with the first point. The Falcons were hurting entering this season after losing a trio of talented forwards, including both captains, to graduation. The murmurs of a down year only intensified when six players, including the starting goalie, opted not to return to the team, leaving Bow with an uphill battle to get back to the division’s elite.

“That’s what they were told. (They thought) ‘We’re going to be terrible, so we’re leaving,’ ” Walsh said. “That’s a lot of the reason why, and I’m not easy to play for, I know that, but I have high expectations and I don’t know why anyone would not want to have high expectations.”

Those expectations were met, and the preseason critics were wrong.

“We’re 14-3-1. That’s … better than last year,” Walsh said. “For the most part, people said we weren’t going to be any good this year … and these kids have used it as motivation. They took it on their own, I didn’t tell them to do that.”

The Falcons are 14-3-1 thanks largely to a tough defense that has shut out six opponents and allowed a goal or less 10 times. Junior Robbie Margeson (11-2-1, 1.54 goals against average, .941 save percentage) has flourished in net, and a blueline crew led by senior captain Nate Corriveau has helped the Falcons become both stifling and intimidating in their own zone.

“We use the (phrase) ‘Nate’s a beast’ – he literally is a beast,” Walsh said. “He plays physical, he plays clean, he moves the puck but he’s not one of those kids that’s going to run around out of control and hit people and be out of control that way because that just gets you out of position. That’s not smart hockey, and he’s a smart player.”

On the Bow defense, everyone has a role. Corriveau is the enforcer and leader. Senior Josh Lacasse runs the power play. And senior Tyler Herrick, an alternate captain, provides an aggressive, gritty style.

“We really contain other teams in our own zone,” Corriveau said. “Winning the corner battles and stuff is really what we try to pride ourselves on. Team defense all the way through.”

The leadership continues on offense, where senior captain Chris Fournier (17 goals, 19 assists), a physical forward, and senior alternate captain Jake Rand (24 goals, 16 assists), a true playmaker, have led a Falcons attack that averages 4.67 goals per game.

“That’s what teams are going to focus on, Jake and Chris. They tell us that, we’ve got to shut down (Nos.) 14 and 8,” Walsh said. “You look at the stat sheet, when those guys don’t score, we don’t do very well.”

They’re skilled players, and they know that in the playoffs they’ll have to be tough ones as well.

“It’s about getting hungry in front of the net, going to the dirty areas, going to the corners, coming out with (the puck),” Fournier said. “We’re focusing on dirty areas. We’ve been trying to get ready for that in that way.”

The mix has been enough to get the Falcons to the brink of a return to the semifinals – which is where the feel-good story fades and the determination sets in. The Bow players remember last year’s semifinal, a 5-2 loss to top-seeded Merrimack in which they didn’t play up to their standards. For some, the frustration hasn’t left.

“I remember that game pretty well and I didn’t like how that went, especially how we played,” Corriveau said. “We’re just trying, not to get it out of mind, because there are things we can take from it, but take it and use it as motivation.”

Not that going any deeper will be easy. The quarterfinal game against Goffstown is the first test, but winning that would mean going up against a field that includes No. 2 Dover, a longtime playoff nemesis, and defending champion Bedford, which has made mincemeat out of all 18 teams it’s played – including the Falcons twice.

And even that, Walsh stressed, is missing the point, as the Grizzlies are no team to overlook – a 4-3 victory over Dover back in January showing just what they’re capable of.

But the Falcons are in the mix. That’s better than some expected before the year began.

When reminded of those projections, Corriveau smiled.

“We just kind of rallied around each other. We realized ‘this is what we have, we have to make the most of it,’ ” he said. “We’ve definitely done that so far. Hopefully it continues.”

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at abonifant@cmonitor.com or via Twitter @dbonifant.)

Related

Bow hockey team, year by year since last title

Friday, March 7, 2014

In the hunt, again The Bow boys’ hockey team is seeking a return to the Division II championship game for the first time since winning the title in 2010. The Falcons’ season-by-season results since then: 2011 – 10-7-3, lost in semifinals 2012 – 7-10-1, missed tourney 2013 –12-4-4, lost in semifinals 2014 –14-3-1, No. 3 seed in tourney …

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