Bedford solves BG for D-I hockey title

MANCHESTER – The Bedford High School boys ice hockey team’s 4-3 Division I title win over Bishop Guertin on Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena was a simple case of math.

The top-seeded Cardinals wanted to keep the Bulldogs’ shots on goal to 20 or less, pretty much the same number they had in a BG win over Bedford earlier in the year.

Instead, the Bulldogs fired 31 shots on Cardinal goalie Jacob Perrin. Game, set, match.

"Clearly that tells the story," Guertin coach Gary Bishop said. "We’ve had some great games with them, there will be more great games to come. … We knew what they were going to do, they knew what we were going to do. It came down to who executed, and they executed, and we didn’t."

"They’re a good team. We thought we were the better team, but they worked really hard to beat us," said a distraught Guertin senior captain Justin Pearson, who figured in all three BG scores with a goal and two assists. "That’s how it goes."

Bedford scored what proved to be the game-winner with a 4-3 lead with 5 seconds left in the second period on a Jay Roberto power-play goal, assisted by Nate John after Pearson was called for an inadvertent high stick as he got checked to the ice along the boards with just under 10 seconds before intermission.

"Inadvertent or not inadvertent, it’s still a high stick," Bishop said. "There’s not much you can do. We took some tough penalties at bad times."

And thus the Cards, who finished their season at 19-2 (21-3 overall), suffered a much different outcome than a year ago when they surprised everyone with a title. Second-ranked Bedford (19-2, 22-2 overall), meanwhile, has never lost a title game at the VW in its brief history and has captured its fourth hockey crown, first in Division I.

"I know last time we played them (a 2-1 BG win), we didn’t capitalize on all the opportunities we had," Bedford coach Marty Myers said. "We wanted to make sure any chance we had to put the puck on net, put the puck on net."

The Bulldogs, down 2-1 after one, tied it on a John goal at 6:16 of the second, assisted by Tyler Gamble. Bedford then took its first lead on a Jacob Rioux goal with Perrin (27 stops) sprawled to one side of the goal mouth at 10:03, Roberto and Griffin Gagne assisting.

"They shot the puck well," Bishop said. "That’s the one thing we didn’t do. We didn’t shoot it nearly enough. We had plenty of time to shoot and we would take one more step, one more step. You can’t take that extra step. We didn’t shoot, and they did shoot."

However, the Cards did find the right shot one last time, managing to tie it 3-3 just over a minute later on a Ben Peterson goal, assisted by Pearson and Cam Hult.

The Cards opened the scoring with Michael Barrett scoring with a wrist shot through traffic from the right side just 34 seconds in, with Pearson and Peterson assisting.

Bedford tied it up on a fluke goal, the puck fired by Gagne apparently deflecting off Perrin and into the net at 6:23. Roberto and Rioux were credited with assists.

But the Cards, true to their form all season long, responded with a Pearson goal at 7:28 as he zipped down left wing off a Peterson send and basically willed the puck past Bedford goalie Fred Veloshin (21 saves), crashing into the goal after. That gave the Cards a 2-1 lead after one period. It was their last advantage of the game.

Myers felt his team might have been in trouble had it not scored at the end of the second.

"That was nice," he said. "It was something that was needed. If we didn’t get that, it would’ve been a little bit different outcome, maybe. That gave us a lot of confidence."

Guertin played its best period in the third, limiting the Bulldogs to just five shots after they had amassed 26 in the first two. But any chance to get an equalizer evaporated when Hult took a an ill-advised tripping penalty with 2:29 left.

"Tough time to take a penalty," Bishop said, "but what are you going to do?

"The kids had a great season, one of the better seasons we’ve had in my 24 years. … You lose three games and two of them are to (Massachusetts) teams, I’ll take that. I told them be proud of what you did. They can’t take that away."