Bow falls to top-seeded and undefeated Bedford in Division II final
Bow's Doug Champagne, bottom, gets tangled up with Bedford's Nate Boyd and Patrick Gagliardi during the Division II NHIAA Ice Hockey Championship final on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
Bedford's Jeremy Myers is seen celebrating the win over Bow as the final seconds wind down during the Division II NHIAA Ice Hockey Championship final on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
Bow's Austin Beaudette, right, moves in to check Bedford's Asa Palker during the Division II NHIAA Ice Hockey Championship final on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
The team that lined up across from the Bow High hockey team before the Division II championship game made clear the kind of effort the Falcons would need to come away with their second title in five years. The Bedford Bulldogs were perfect, with 20 wins and not a single loss – and to beat them, Bow was going to need to be as well.
The Falcons were good. They weren’t perfect. Bow played hard but made errors it knew it couldn’t afford, and one bad minute provided the Bulldogs with all the opportunity they needed to earn a 3-1 victory, and their second straight championship trophy.
The third-seeded Falcons (16-4-1) skated off the ice with the runner-up trophy, a prize in and of itself but one that reminded the players and coaches of an opportunity that the team came close to taking advantage of.
“The turnovers were what killed us tonight,” Coach Tim Walsh said. “They do a great job of transition hockey, causing turnovers and capitalizing on it. We didn’t, they did.”
If there was any intimidation on the part of the Falcons , it didn’t show early as they kept the bigger, deeper Bulldogs (21-0-0) at bay during a scoreless first period, then got the first goal of the game when Chris Mead scored for the third time in as many playoff games just 1:33 into the second period. The high was quelled when a penalty cancelled out a developing Bow rush 23 seconds later, and Bedford tied the game with five seconds remaining on the ensuing power play.
That halted the momentum, and the game unraveled for the Falcons a few minutes later. The Bulldogs got the puck deep in the Bow zone and it paid off with a strange bounce, as Bedford’s Nate Boyd tried to slip the puck back toward the crease from behind the net and instead got it to deflect into the goal for a 2-1 lead at 11:46 of the period. The Bulldogs got the puck right after the ensuing faceoff and went on the attack again, going up 3-1 at 12:34 when Jeremy Myers (two goals) gathered the deflection of a Ben Desrosiers shot and backhanded it past goalie Robbie Margeson (19 saves) from a tight angle on the right side, only a few feet from where the previous goal was scored.
“I thought we could have bounced back, but that’s what they do,” Walsh said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. “They get goals quick. … It takes the wind out of your sails when that happens. You’re not human if it doesn’t.”
The game was firmly in the senior-laden Bulldogs’ grasp, but the Falcons had chances in the third, as Jake Rand was stopped on a good look from the left slot and the team went on a power play with 8:55 remaining in the game.
Goalie Stevan Tempesta (10 saves) and the Bedford defense kept turning the Falcons aside, and after holding on during a hectic final minute with Margeson pulled, the Bulldogs could celebrate again.
“The kids bounced back,” Walsh said. “We kept competing, kept trying. … The kids did everything we asked them to do.”
While the Bulldogs celebrated their win and perfect record all the way into the locker room, their coach took a more modest tone.
“(I’m) relieved, actually. Relieved,” Marty Myers said. “It’s something we wanted to do all season long, and it was tough. … While we were undefeated, we knew everyone wanted to beat the undefeated (team).”
The Falcons were the first to strike, as Mead, a freshman forward, took the puck down the right side and beat Tempesta with a wrist shot on Bow’s first shot on goal of the period. The Bulldogs evened it up when Myers tipped in Harrison Voloshin’s slap shot – negating the Falcons’ penalty kill strategy.
“We changed our penalty kill to combat what they do,” Walsh said. “They move the puck really, really well so we took away the passing lanes, and the puck glances off one of our defenseman’s shin pads and goes in the net.”
Bow couldn’t muster enough of a rally to challenge the Bulldogs in the third, and was stymied again in its third multi-goal loss to the top seed. The Falcons also lost, 4-1 and 4-2, to Bedford during the season, but senior defenseman and co-captain Nate Corriveau said the team was confident yesterday would be different.
“We felt it was going to be a very competitive game. We thought we were on even playing fields,” he said. “When we were going in, our mindset was we were going to play our systems and do what we had to do to win.”
The Bulldogs instead were the ones setting the tone, no surprise given their record, championship pedigree and 13 seniors on the roster. Bow, meanwhile, countered with seven freshmen on the roster and two in the starting lineup, and was just outmatched in the final game – though even getting there, two years removed from missing the playoffs, said something.
“I could not be prouder of any team that I’ve ever coached,” Walsh said. “This group of guys, they’ve gone through a lot. … They earned the right to be here. These guys belong here.”
(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dbonifant.)