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Belmont-Gilford outlasts Kennett in OT to reach hockey semifinals

  • Belmont-Gilford's Christian Karagianis celebrates after Belmont-Gilford's first goal during the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Belmont-Gilford's Christian Karagianis celebrates after Belmont-Gilford's first goal during the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Belmont-Gilford's Daryll Cahill hits the puck under Kennett's Nick Ansaldi during the Division III Quarterfinals at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Belmont-Gilford's Daryll Cahill hits the puck under Kennett's Nick Ansaldi during the Division III Quarterfinals at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Belmont-Gilford's Dylan Treamer tries to get the puck past Kennett's Bryan Baker during the Division III Quarterfinals at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Belmont-Gilford's Dylan Treamer tries to get the puck past Kennett's Bryan Baker during the Division III Quarterfinals at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • From left: Belmont-Gilford's Bailey Defosie, Will Mahoney and Andrew D'Amour, along with other teammates engulf Caleb Drouin after Drouin scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    From left: Belmont-Gilford's Bailey Defosie, Will Mahoney and Andrew D'Amour, along with other teammates engulf Caleb Drouin after Drouin scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • From left: Belmont-Gilford's Bailey Defosie and Andrew D'Amour celebrates with Caleb Drouin after Drouin scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    From left: Belmont-Gilford's Bailey Defosie and Andrew D'Amour celebrates with Caleb Drouin after Drouin scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Belmont-Gilford's Christian Karagianis celebrates after Belmont-Gilford's first goal during the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Belmont-Gilford's Daryll Cahill hits the puck under Kennett's Nick Ansaldi during the Division III Quarterfinals at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Belmont-Gilford's Dylan Treamer tries to get the puck past Kennett's Bryan Baker during the Division III Quarterfinals at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • From left: Belmont-Gilford's Bailey Defosie, Will Mahoney and Andrew D'Amour, along with other teammates engulf Caleb Drouin after Drouin scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • From left: Belmont-Gilford's Bailey Defosie and Andrew D'Amour celebrates with Caleb Drouin after Drouin scored the game-winning goal in overtime at the Division III Quarterfinals against Kennett at Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  Belmont-Gilford won in overtime 3-2.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

Trailing 2-1 with 3:44 remaining in regulation, Belmont-Gilford hockey Coach Jay Londer called a timeout. As the Bulldogs gathered around their bench at the Laconia Ice Arena, only one thing was on their minds. They lost last season’s Division III quarterfinal matchup on their home ice to Kennett and they weren’t about to repeat that.

“He (Coach Londer) just said get shots low on net and crash for the rebounds,” left wing Andrew D’Amour said.

D’Amour heeded those words, burying the rebound of a Will Mahoney shot in the back of the net (Brogan Hurst also assisted) with 1:35 left to force overtime. And center Caleb Drouin scored 4:23 into OT to lift No. 3 Belmont-Gilford (16-3-0) to a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Kennett (8-11-0). The victory sends the Bulldogs into Wednesday’s semifinal against No. 2 Souhegan.

“It was unreal. It was awesome, it really was,” D’Amour said.

The game-winning goal was also the result of crashing the net. The Bulldogs peppered Kennett goaltender Josh Kondrat (41 saves) all night, forcing Kondrat to either cover the puck or his defense to ice it, keeping play in the Eagles’ defensive third for long periods of time. Finally, with 10:37 left in overtime, it paid off. Kondrat covered the puck after making a save in traffic and Drouin took advantage of the ensuing faceoff, taking a loose puck and putting it between Kondrat’s legs for the game-winner.

“The kid slashed me. I thought I lost it, but I shot it five-hole,” said Drouin, describing the physical nature of the goal.

“(Drouin) is so big and so strong,” Londer added. “When he’s on his game, he is hard to stop.”

Entering the game, it looked like the Bulldogs were the clear favorites. B-G had beaten Kennett twice during the regular season (6-2 at home in the season opener and 5-2 in Conway later in the season), while the Eagles finished the season below .500 and have only 13 skaters.

But the Eagles came ready to play, and thanks to Kondrat and the top Kennett defensive pairing of Robert Moody and Dane Rivera, the top B-G line of D’Amour, Drouin and Jason Taylor was kept off the board in the first period despite the Bulldogs playing a majority of the first 15 minutes in the Eagles end.

Kennett started the second period with more possession of the puck and opened the scoring at 11:12 when the Bulldogs gave away the puck and the Eagles’ top scorer, Brad Canavari, received the puck from teammate Nick Ansaldi and deked B-G goalie Calvin Davis (23 saves), beating him stick-side. The lead was short-lived, however.

Less than a minute and a half after falling behind, a Hurst wrist shot from the point sailed over Kondrat’s shoulder to tie the game (Christian Karagianis assisted).

The Kennett defense continued to frustrate the Bulldogs offense in the third. Kondrat made 19 of his 41 saves in the third period, and around the 11-minute mark, Kondrat made six saves in a span of about 10 seconds.

“That’s frustrating. (Kondrat) is very good,” Londer said. “Anything he sees he stops. And the bigger the game, the bigger he plays.”

“He’s a good goaltender. I can’t take that away from him,” D’Amour said.

Kennett’s deadly scoring combination of Canavari and Ansaldi appeared to have delivered a knockout blow when Ansaldi deflected in a shot from Canavari with 6:41 to play in regulation, but D’Amour answered the call to force overtime.

The upset-minded Eagles put together some quality chances in OT, including a pair of Canavari chances in the first minute of OT, but were saved by Davis. Kennett nearly completed the upset for the second straight year on the next shift. Canavari attacked the net on Davis’s glove side and fired a shot that Davis got a piece of, but the puck deflected toward Rivera who had a wide open net with Davis out of position, but Rivera’s back-handed shot hit the post.

“We caught a huge break,” Londer said. “Their top unit was better than our top unit. No question about it … to come in and put 13 skaters on the ice and play us as tough as they did … it was unbelievable. Those 13 Kennett kids, they worked their tail off. They’re a good team.”

Both the coaches and players agreed that last night’s victory was a huge step forward for the team and the Belmont-Gilford program.

“We told them (before the game) we haven’t accomplished anything, 15-3, we haven’t accomplished anything,” Londer said. “Winning a playoff game, we just accomplished something.”

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