Boys’ hockey: Brooks Craigue scores a hat trick, sets Concord single-season points record in Tide’s 4-1 quarterfinal win

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 03-05-2023 2:40 AM

It was already a record-setting season for Brooks Craigue and on Saturday night he set another one. Craigue recorded a hat trick and an assist, with his first goal of the game in the second period giving him his 64th point of the season, setting the program’s single-season points record. 

But the most important numbers for the Crimson Tide was the final score on the board, a 4-1 victory for No. 1 Concord (19-0) over No. 9 Keene (10-10), a win that punched the Tide’s ticket to Wednesday night’s semifinals. 

The Tide beat the Blackbirds, 5-2, when the two teams played in the regular season on Feb. 22, but while Concord is the better team, head coach Dunc Walsh knows that can all disappear in the blink of an eye, especially in the playoffs.

“I watched the Exeter-Keene game and I knew we were going to dominate the play, probably,” said Walsh, referring to Keene’s 3-2 victory over No. 8 Exeter in the preliminary round earlier this week.

Exeter had far more shots, but Keene’s senior goaltender, Orion Murphy, made 43 saves and the Blackbirds were more efficient with their scoring opportunities. 

“It’s a matter of finishing. You have to finish (your chances),” Walsh said. “(Murphy) is really good, we knew that, but we stuck with it. We couldn’t make mistakes. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Saturday’s quarterfinal at Everett Arena played out similarly, with Concord outshooting Keene 31-4 and Murphy making 27 saves.

Midway through the first period, Craigue, a senior captain, fired a shot wide to the right of Murphy, drawing him out of the position enough to leave the left half of the goal uncovered. The puck bounced hard enough off the boards behind the goal to rebound right to junior right wing Dawson Fancher, who wristed a shot into the uncovered side of the net, giving Concord a 1-0 lead with 8:26 on the clock.

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Craigue was credited with an assist, his 63rd point of the season, tying him with assistant coach and Class of 2011’s Pat Lacasse.

Tyler Fennelly was also credited with an assist.

The Tide made a rare blunder at the end of the first period, giving the puck away to Keene senior center Joel Beard, who fired a shot on Concord goalie Kal Gaudreault (three saves). Gaudreault made the initial save, but junior left wing Noah Parrelli poked in the game-tying goal after a brief flurry of activity in front of Concord’s net (senior right wing Leo Ballaro also had an assist) with 38.2 seconds remaining in the opening period.

The tie was short lived. Craigue redirected a shot by freshman defenseman Brayden Beauregard to make it 2-1 just 3:49 into the second period, giving Craigue his 64th point and setting the single-season record.

Less than five minutes later, Craigue scored on a breakaway, finishing with a nifty deke to beat Murphy on the short side (senior captain Joey Tarbell assisted). He completed his hat trick with 3:32 left in the game, taking the puck close to the corner behind Keene’s net and deflecting a shot off of the back of Murphy’s pads across the line to make it 4-1.

“We did a good job keeping the puck down in (Keene’s end) in the third,” Walsh said. “We’re down so many guys (on D) with Jack Shoemaker and Trevor Brown being out. Our freshman Brayden Beauregard played pretty well, but then he got hurt. I was really happy with how he played and the other three (Tarbell, Fennelly and Alex Pelletier), they all played well as a unit.”

“It was tough right from the beginning,” Blackbirds head coach Chris McIntosh said. “I thought we were a little lethargic … (Concord) really took it to us. They’re No. 1 for a reason. They’re going for a three-peat for a reason. They’ve got the best player in the league and he (showed us why). I’m grateful, and ultimately happy, for the boys’ season. This season we had our first playoff win in 25 years in Division I. We’re trying to find our own identity and figure some things out here and prove to everybody that we belong. Tough one to swallow today, but collectively a lot of positive things happened for us this year.”

The Tide now await the winner of No. 4 Bedford vs. No. 5 Trinity in Wednesday’s semifinal at JFK Coliseum in Manchester.

“We’ve gotta keep working hard,” Walsh said. “We’re down to four practices left in the season, hopefully. We just gotta get ready for Trinity or Bedford, either team will be a tough game. It’s all about staying sharp. The kids are motivated. They want to win again.”

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