D-III boys’ hockey: John Stark-Hopkinton advances to semifinals behind new line

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  • John Stark/Hopkinton forward Nolan Sauer shoots and scores the third goal at New England College during the Division III playoff game on Saturday, March 2, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Stark/Hopkinton defenseman Jake Cole (55) checks Kennett forward Miles Woodbury during the second period at New England College on Saturday, March 2, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Kennett defenseman Trevor Oliver can only watch as the John Stark/Hopkinton and their fans celebrate their third goal at the start of the second period at New England College on Saturday, March 2, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Stark-Hopkinton’s Brett Patnode celebrates his goal in the first period during a Division III playoff game against Kennett at New England College on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark/Hopkinton forward Cabot Lineberry collides with Kennett forward Miles Woddbury during the first period at the Division III playoff at New England College on Saturday, March 2, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/3/2019 12:16:30 AM

HENNIKER – The three other Division III teams still playing don’t want to hear this, but they might as well be ready. Top-ranked John Stark-Hopkinton, which dominated the regular-season by scoring 5.8 goals per game, looks even more dangerous as it heads into the D-III semifinals.

The General Hawks experimented with a new line combination during the final games of the regular season, putting Paul Molnar, Brett Patnode and Nolan Sauer together. The experiment appears to be a success as that trio scored five goals on Saturday as No. 1 John Stark-Hopkinton (18-1-0) downed No. 8 Kennett, 8-3, in a quarterfinal matchup at New England College’s Lee Clement Arena.

“It was awesome. We were scoring like crazy,” Molnar, a senior captain, said of the new line. “We all pretty much knew where each other would be and we were just setting each other up all the time.”

Molnar finished with two goals and an assist. Patnode, a junior captain who reached the 100-point milestone in the last regular-season game, had two goals and three assists. And Sauer, a sophomore, impressed with a goal and four assists.

“Nolan played well today, he was really passing the puck well,” JSH coach Denis Kolehmainen said. “That was one of his better games in the last four or five games.”

That line could have won the game by itself, but there was no need. The General Hawks used all four of their lines and got points from three of them. Every defensemen who stepped on the ice was solid and standout senior goalie Jameson Bourque (12 saves) shared some net time with backup Casyn Alard (five saves).

Not only did JSH show a diversity of depth, it also showed a diverse skill set.

“We played at our (up-tempo) pace and dictated how fast the game was played, for the most part, and I thought we also showed a lot of power and we kept the play deep down in their zone,” Kolehmainen said.

The first goal came from deep in the Kennett zone as Sauer controlled the puck behind the net and fed a pass to Patnode in the slot, who buried a one-timer to make it 1-0 at 9:07 of the first. Molnar made it 2-0 about two minutes later when he collected a rebound and lifted it into the top shelf past Kennett goalie Bryson Wrobleski (25 saves).

The General Hawks made sure they kept the momentum in the second as Sauer scored just 11 seconds into the period.

“A team like Kennett, they’ll usually come out strong for the first five minutes of the period, but when you score on them in the first 10, 15 seconds, it takes the wind out of their sails,” Kolehmainen said.

Patnode, who assisted on that quick goal from Sauer, upped the lead to 4-0 at 7:28 of the second. The Eagles (7-12-0) responded with a goal from John Olivier less than a minute later, and they got another one from Colby Hall at 10:14 of the period to cut their deficit to 4-2. But Benny Madden finished a back-and-forth, full-ice sequence by scoring with a Kennett defender draped on his back to make it 5-2 with just :55.4 left in the second.

“I think that fifth goal gave us the momentum we needed to put it away,” Molnar said.

Just to be sure, Molnar scored in the first minute of the third period with assists from, who else, Sauer and Patnode.

Tyler Scordo and Owen Olson added the other third-period goals for the General Hawks, while Bryan Cody scored for Kennett.

John Stark-Hopkinton will now face No. 4 Berlin (13-6), which also posted an impressive quarterfinal result on Saturday, blanking No. 5 Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes, 7-0. But the Generals Hawks won’t worry too much about that score before Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal at Plymouth State University, they’ll just keep doing what they do.

“We’re pumped and ready to play whoever we have to play,” Molnar said after the JSH game, which finished before the Berlin semifinal. “We’ll play our game in Plymouth and try to get another win.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

Boys’ Hockey

Division III Tournament

No. 3 Belmont-Gilford 2,
No. 6 Hollis Brookline-Derryfield 1, 2OT

Key players: Belmont-Gilford – Cam Jarvi (G), Joey Blake (G)

Highlights: Carvi finally broke through Hollis Brookline-Derryfield’s wall with 5:36 left in the third period to force overtime and Blake netted the game-winner at 6:35 in the second overtime period to send the Bulldogs to the D-III semifinals. The Bulldogs will play No. 2 Monadnock-Fall Mountain in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m. at Plymouth State University.

Records: Belmont-Gilford 14-5; Hollis Brookline-Derryfield 9-10

No. 2 Monadnock-Fall Mountain 6,
No. 7 Pembroke-Campbell 0

Highlights: Pembroke-Campbell’s season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the D-III tournament, falling to Monadnock-Fall Mountain for the third time this season.

Records: Monadnock-Fall Mountain 16-3; Pembroke-Campbell 7-12

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