NHIAA hockey: Little time, much to do as Bow reloads for new season

  • Bow goalie Nate Carrier (1) makes a save during the Division II boys’ hockey championship at SNHU Arena in Manchester on March 11. The new-look Falcons return to the ice for their opener on Wednesday against Winnacunnet. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • Bow’s Austin Scarinza scores during the Division II boys’ hockey championship at SNHU Arena in Manchester on March 11. The Falcons, the defending champions in Division II, open the season on Wednesday night against Winnacunnet. Elizabeth Frantz Monitor file

Monitor staff
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The last few days have been busy for high school hockey teams across the state. Practices officially began Nov. 20, giving teams about three weeks to prepare and organize before the season begins this week. Those weeks have passed quickly, especially with the Thanksgiving holiday pitted in the middle.

Over the weekend, the Bow and Concord high school boys’ teams played their final scrimmages of live hockey before dropping the puck on the regular season.

Concord coach Dunc Walsh and the Tide hosted their annual jamboree at Everett Arena Saturday evening with Bow, Trinity and Bishop Guertin participating. Each team played twice.

Earlier in the day, coach Tim Walsh and his Bow High Falcons played another jamboree in Keene. After their third scrimmage there, the Falcons packed their equipment and hustled through the season’s first significant snowfall to get back to Concord for two more games.

Bow hustled through Saturday like last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve. Several players arrived at Everett Arena wearing all their gear except helmets, shoulder pads, gloves and skates.

These scrimmages are invaluable to the defending Division II champions. Bow’s season begins Wednesday at Winnacunnet.

Asked about the whirlwind of activity, Tim Walsh said it plainly: “We need it.”

“A little overwhelmed by how much we have to get done between now and Wednesday,” he said last week. “You’re not trying to get everything in and peak by next Wednesday, but you’d like to have some semblance that we’re kind of comfortable with what we’re going to do.”

Bow lost a significant chunk of the offensive production that led them to the title round against Keene last year. Doug Champagne, the 2015-16 D-II player of the year, graduated. So did Alex Killion, Chris Mead, Colin Tracy and Austin Beaudette, their senior captain and leader.

“Up front we had role players like Alex Killion who could kill penalties. Chris Mead could take a game over with his size and speed,” Walsh said. “As a senior group they came together, Austin Beaudette was a great leader for us and really drove the ship and took us down that great path. Right now there’s just a lot of unknowns.”

The most experienced players returning this season are seniors Ryan Tobeler (forward) and Brandon Tibbetts (defense), and junior goaltender Nate Carrier.

Carrier is back in net after an outstanding sophomore season that ended with a 22-save performance against Keene. Only three pucks got by Carrier in three postseason games. Early indications are that he will be the starter again this year, but Tim Walsh welcomes the competition between Carrier and Jason Howe for starts in the crease.

“We’ve kind of put it on Nate and Jason in net that you guys are going to have to be our best players from the beginning of the season and keep us in games,” Walsh said. “That’s what it is. You don’t want to put pressure on your goalies like that but they have to stand up for us in this beginning part of the season for us to have a chance.”

Walsh is looking for a lot of players to fill roles they didn’t have last year, players who didn’t get on the ice as often while their core group of seniors led the way.

The forward lines will be “fluid,” an indication that much is still unknown about this group and Walsh and his assistants will mix and match players until they find chemistry on the ice. The spine of the offensive groups is clear: Tobeler will center the first line, Jake Mielcarz the second, and Brody Call on the third line.

Tibbetts will lead the group of defensemen with Walsh looking to Andrew Pascarella, Keegan Orzechowski and Ben Wheeler to fill out the top four.

“The experience factor for them isn’t there but they saw how the older guys worked, they saw how they did it,” Walsh said. “They saw how Doug Champagne and Colin Tracy, those guys were on the ice early every day for practice and made themselves good players. Those guys didn’t just fall into being good players their junior and senior years. They were on the ice early every day busting their butts.”

Notable absences from last year’s team to this year are Dominique Biron, now attending Cushing Academy, and sophomore Austin Scarinza, who joined the U16 Jr. Monarchs.

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)