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Belmont-Gilford boys’ hockey team digs deep hole and can’t get out

The stands were packed with red and white and the game didn’t go more than a few minutes without a “Let’s go B-G” chant, turning what was supposed to be a neutral-ice game into a home game for the Belmont-Gilford boys’ hockey team in last night’s Division III semifinal.

But the cheering wasn’t enough to help third-seeded Belmont-Gilford on the ice against second-seeded Souhegan, as the Bulldogs (16-4) took some untimely penalties at the start of the game to fall into a quick 3-0 deficit that turned into a 7-1 loss to the Sabers (17-2).

“We had a feeling that they were going to take a few penalties against us,” Sabers Coach Dan Belliveau said, “and we were going to have to take advantage of our power-play chances. … We spent all week working on our special-teams play. The game played out just as we expected.”

The Sabers indeed took advantage of their chances, scoring four power-play goals.

Despite watching its team fall behind 3-0 midway through the first period, the Bulldogs faithful let the Sabers know they wouldn’t be silenced, and then on the ice Andrew D’Amour provided a momentary spark to briefly make a game of it. The forward created a turnover in his defensive zone and took the puck coast-to-coast, deking two Souhegan defenders and snapping a wrist shot past Sabers goalie Connor McCall to bring the Bulldogs within two goals with 7:40 left in the first.

Souhegan, however, answered less than two minutes later, and Belmont-Gilford wouldn’t threaten again. The Bulldogs were outshot 15-3 in the first period and 40-10 in the game.

Belmont-Gilford came out in the second period and started showing some of the aggressive defensive play that it had become known for during the regular season, with defensemen Brogan Hurst and Will Mahoney constantly laying the body on Souhegan’s forwards throughout the period. Goalie Calvin Davis stood on his head in the second period, keeping the score 4-1 despite Souhegan’s numerous attempts to send three forwards crashing the net and clogging up the middle of the ice, a tactic that produced 13 more shots on goal during the period.

The Bulldogs took a couple of extra minutes in locker room after the second intermission, knowing it could be their last 15 minutes on the ice if they couldn’t replicate a comeback like they had against Kennett in the quarterfinals, when they rallied from a 2-1 deficit with 1:35 left in regulation and won, 3-2, in overtime.

Souhegan’s Joseph Nutting made sure a comeback wouldn’t happen, scoring on a cross-crease pass from Robert Duarte just 16 seconds into the final period.

The Bulldogs bit back, but not in the way that Coach Jay Londer would have liked. Belmont-Gilford took five penalties after Nutting’s goal, including a five-minute major by leading scorer Caleb Drouin, and both a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute game misconduct by forward/defenseman Daryll Cahill. The Sabers scored two more power-play goals to finish off the Bulldogs.

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