Sabers rolled into title game
CONCORD – If you’re looking for perfection, the Souhegan High School boys hockey team offered a glimpse of it on Thursday night – and at the perfect time.
The No. 2 Sabers (17-2) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back in a 7-1 Division III semifinal rout of Belmont Gilford at Everett Arena.
The win sends the Sabers into the finals for the first time since 2009. They’ll take on either top seed Berlin or John Stark-Hopkinton on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena.
Junior Matt Wilson had a hat trick and an assist, while his freshman brother, James, had a pair of goals.
Senior Mike Hayden was his usual steadying force with a goal and three assists. Sabers goalie Connor McCall was hardly tested, called upon for just nine saves.
“We executed our game plan exactly the way we wanted to do it,” Souhegan coach Dan Belliveau said. “Defense first, then all the way down the ice. Play hard, get control of the puck, control it down low.”
“They were the better team,” Belmont-Gilford coach Jay Londer said, his third-seeded team done with a 16-4 record. “If I was a gambling man, I’d say they’re gonna win (in the finals).
“They have so much offense, I knew if we were undisciplined it could get ugly real quick.”
And that’s exactly what happened. The Sabers, who split with B-G during the regular season (5-4 overtime win, 4-2 loss) committed only two penalties to the Bulldogs’ nine.
Souhegan jumped out quickly with two power-play goals, one by Hayden at 2:58 of the first period (assisted by Alex Maresco and Matt Wilson), and the first of two goals by James Wilson at 6:02, assisted by Riley Connor and Alek Medic. The younger Wilson was perched perfectly on the doorstep of beleaguered Bulldogs goalie Calvin Davis (30 saves).
“We knew if we controlled the puck, let them try to take the puck away from our stick,” Belliveau said. “We knew they would start to get chippy. They started taking penalties and we made them pay for it on the power play.
“We’ve been working on our power play a lot in the last few weeks, it seems.”
Wilson, the freshman, struck again at 8:14, assisted by Medic, and the Sabers had a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs got some satisfaction with an Andrew D’Amour unassisted breakaway goal at 10:24, but Souhegan got a huge goal from Matt Wilson, assisted by Hayden, at 12:54 and that made it 4-1 after one period.
After a surprisingly scoreless second period, the rout was on in the third. Souhegan scored just 14 seconds in, Joe Nutting getting on the board with an assist from Robert Duarte, to make it 5-1.
“We talked about it in the locker room,” Belliveau said.
“We wanted to make sure we put it in early. We figured that would be a back-breaker, break their spirits.”
Matt Wilson, from Hayden and Nutting, scored his second of the game, on the power play at 3:21, and later added the game’s final goal, assisted by Hayden.
Perfection? Maybe, but …
“I think we have a lot more hockey in us,” Belliveau said. “I think our best game is going to be at the Verizon.”