Concord hockey loses first game in nearly two years in holiday tourney final to Exeter

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 12-29-2022 11:55 PM

The games don’t count in the NHIAA standings, but lessons can be learned from holiday tournaments. The Tide learned that no matter how good a team is, eventually a winning streak must come to an end.

The Concord boys’ hockey team played well in long stretches, but ran into a hot goaltender, as Exeter netminder Charlie Mozina turned aside 25 shots and was named Tournament MVP after the Blue Hawks defeated the Crimson Tide, 3-1, in the Brian C. Stone Memorial Tournament at JFK Coliseum in Manchester on Thursday night.

The Tide – three-time defending Division I champions and last year’s Stone Memorial tourney winners – hadn’t lost a game since Feb. 12, 2021. Oddly enough, that loss was also to Exeter.

Concord defeated Exeter earlier in the tournament on Tuesday, 6-2, albeit with the Blue Hawks playing a different goalie, and the Tide controlled the first half of the first period.

Concord outshot Exeter, 10-5, in the first period, but Ty Robinson scored 3:15 into the game to give the Blue Hawks a 1-0 lead and Max Givetz scored two minutes into the second period to make it 2-0.

Junior Dawson Fancher scored 6:45 into the second (off assists from Brooks Craigue and Joey Tarbell) to cut the deficit in half, but Concord couldn’t find the back of the net again, despite outshooting Exeter in the third period and 26-24 overall.

“They came out strong in the first half of the first period and I thought in the second and third periods we played very well,” Concord head coach Dunc Walsh said. “(Exeter is) a good team. One of the top teams. We played well, we just missed opportunities. We don’t like losing, but it’s inevitable.”

Exeter scored a shorthanded, empty-net goal with 41 seconds left to make it 3-1.

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Concord goalie Kalan Gaudreault made 21 saves, and senior captains Craigue and Tarbell received All-Tournament selections.

While the loss is certainly disappointing, Walsh isn’t worried about his team moving forward and was pleased with how the team handled the loss in the locker room after the game.

“Tonight was the typical game that I expected between two good teams. The reality is you aren’t going to win every game every year,” Walsh said. “Brooks Craigue is the leader of that group. He’s as competitive as any kid I’ve ever coached. Him, Tarbell and (Jack) Shoemaker…They’ll rebound fine.”

Junior blueliner Jack Shoemaker, one of Concord’s top defensemen, did not play in the championship game due to injury, but the Tide had contributions up and down the lineup throughout the course of the tournament. 

Concord had plenty of players contribute to the offense and had multiple players record their first varsity goals as the Tide lit up Bedford (7-1), Exeter (6-2) and Trinity (5-4) in group play.

“(The tournament) gives you a chance to play a few more guys. Tonight we didn’t play as many guys as we would’ve liked because we fell behind,” Walsh said. “Four games in four days is a lot. We need a couple days off.”

The Tide are currently sitting at the top of the NHIAA Division I standings with a 4-0 record and resume regular season play on Wednesday at home against Bedford (2-0). The puck drop is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Everett Arena.

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