Admirals fall, set for playoffs

TYNGSBOROUGH, Mass. – It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the Admirals lately.

But the Alvirne-Milford boys hockey team is hoping the second season will be their better season, after limping into the Division II tournament with four straight losses, including Saturday’s 8-3 debacle against Goffstown at Skate 3 Arena.

“It’s frustrating,” Admirals coach Matt Simpson said. “We had game strategy and we executed it well in the first period today. But it’s been our plague all season, second and third period. … I’m proud of the kids how far they’ve come. … But we’ve got a lot of little things we’ve got to work on.”

That’s the bad news. The good news is the Admirals will make the Division II tournament in the first year of their co-op, and it’s the first postseason berth for an Alvirne hockey team since the solo Broncos made the Division III finals in 2012. The Admirals may have to play in a No. 8 vs. No. 9 play-in game on Wednesday, depending on

seedings.

It was a 2-2 game in the second period when the Grizzlies, who finish up 14-3-1 as a possible second or third seed, barraged the Admirals for six unanswered goals – four of which came on a five minute major. Alvirne-Milford’s Issac Rogers was hit with a hit-from-behind penalty with 12 seconds left in the second, a hit so blatant he was disqualified and likely done for the season.

The Grizzlies then got goals by Griffin Cook (his second), Eric DesRuisseaux, Colin Burke and Lucas Ouellette in the first 4:36 of the third to break the game open, 8-2.

“That was big,” Goffstown coach Ben Slocum said. “In my opinion it was a bad hit, and we kind of capitalized on it. In a 4-2 game, it was a deciding factor.”

“That five minute major killed us,” Simpson said. “They’re a team that if you’re in the box, they will put the puck in the net. I think we killed one penalty all day.”

Just prior to the bad end of the second, there was another key moment. The Admirals, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1, had tied the game 2-2 on a goal by Bobby Pace, assisted by Rogers, at 8:13. But Goffstown got two goals just seven seconds apart, by Cook and then Grady Chretien at 11:15 and 11:22 to grab the lead for good, beating Admirals starting goalie Jackson Dowd.

“For sure,” Simpson said. “Our goaltending’s been shaky all season, and that’s something we’ve got to think about for the seasons to come. That’s tough on the kids, I think, when that happens. We talk about when we’re down a few goals, but I think that major really hurt us.”

Alvirne-Milford’s Levi Griffin had a goal and an assist, while Damien Barahona had the team’s first goal.

Jake Natola also had an assist on the day, while the Grizzlies were led by Colby Gamache’s two goals and two assists. Goffstown goalie James Amorelli had 24 stops, and despite the annoyance of the Rogers hit, his coach was impressed with the Admirals’ grit.

“Hats off to Alvirne, that team keeps coming back, they’re a good team,” Slocum said. “Congratulations to them for making the playoffs for the first time in several years.”

For this group, unchartered waters, but hopefully less choppy.

The Admirals are limping into the tourney having lost four straight by a combined 27-9 margin, including a 7-3 loss just last week to Oyster River. They’ll rely on players like Jake Natola and Damien Barahona for scoring, especially after losing forward Issac Rogers for at least one game after an ejection last Saturday. Alvirne-Milford coach Matt Simpson said his team has “a lot of work to do on the little things”. Wednesday’s winner gets the tough task of visiting No. 1 St. Thomas on Saturday.

“St. Thomas has been leading the pack for a full season,” Goffstown coach Ben Slocum said. “They’ve got a great squad, too. …But it’s been crazy.”

Nashua North-Souhegan, competing in Division I, finished the season with 12 losses in the final 13 ganes to close out the year at 4-14.

The Saber-Titans did not qualify for the postseason.

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