Steve Tempesta wasn’t going to be a goalie.
The Bedford High School senior had been a defenseman whenever he played hockey, but when his Pee Wee team needed a goaltender for a tournament, his coach turned to him.
“The head coach got an extra set of goalie gear and just said ‘go for it kid,’ ” Tempesta said. “We ended up making it to the finals and losing in overtime. I started playing goalie the next season.”
So started a path that Tempesta never would have imagined, even as it was unfolded before him. After sitting for most of his freshman season, Tempesta became the Bulldogs starting goaltender as a sophomore and has stayed there ever since.
And each of those seasons ended in a championship, meaning Tempesta has been the goalie for more championship teams than anyone else in New Hampshire high school history. That includes this year’s perfect season, which ended with a 3-1 win over Bow on March 15 and another Division II title.
“After the championship game, and I don’t think (coach) Marty (Myers) wanted to tell me this beforehand, but they have all the championships listed in the archives,” Tempesta said, “and he went through all the rosters, and I was, to his knowledge, the only goalie in the history of the state to win three championships. That’s unbelievable.”
The person who may have the hardest time believing it is Tempesta. After standing in during the Pee Wee tournament, his father, Steve Tempesta, Sr., who is involved with the Manchester Flames program, helped his son work to improve at the position. The younger Tempesta began taking lessons with a goalie coach, Rob Day, in Exeter.
The pair were two of the biggest influences on Tempesta as he worked toward high school.
“My dad was adamant about making sure I was working smart and that I was always in shape and never taking a day off,” Tempesta said. “He was my support for my four years of high school hockey. He loves the game and you can see it with him and my brother, too. Rob Day, I’ve been going to him since I started playing goalie. He has taught me everything I know about goaltending.”
Tempesta visited Day the night before each of the Bulldogs’ championship game appearances to help his focus and get a final pep talk. But before those last-minute sessions, Tempesta and his classmates saw first hand what it was like to come up short.
The 2010-11 season was Bedford’s first in Division II, and although the Bulldogs were coming off a championship game loss in D-III the year before, not much was expected to them. But Bedford won its last two regular season games to get into the playoffs and had a third-period lead against top-seeded Merrimack before the game slipped away.
“Since day one when we hopped up to Division II, no one thought we’d be as good as we were,” Tempesta said. “Myself, Mike Dee and Chris Viola, in the locker room, we were watching all of the seniors, who were horribly emotional, and we looked at each other and pledged that we were going to win the next three championships. We ended up making it happen.”
Tempesta, who is also the senior class president at Bedford, hopes that he’ll be able to continue his hockey career at the next level, but is still waiting to make a decision on which school to attend.
“I’m looking to play club hockey wherever I go,” he said. “I’ve applied to eight or nine schools and we’ll see what happens with that. To be able to go to a place that has a club team and a varsity team and maybe work my way in that way that way … I’d never want to stop playing.”