During the span of nearly a month, the Londonderry High School ice hockey team certainly seemed to be sliding into a serious, downward spiral.
The then 4-2 Lancer icemen dropped five consecutive contests and fell from the middle of the heated Division I tournament race into a sub-.500 hole that had first-year coach Dan Legro and his charges really feeling the sting.
But since Feb. 3, the Lancers have turned their fortunes around by tallying five consecutive wins – four of which were shutouts – in driving their record from 4-7 to 9-7 as the D-I tournament nears.
Legro’s Lancer legion kept the wins coming last week and catapulted itself back up over the .500 mark with 3-0 victories over the scuffling Pinkerton Academy Astros and the Nashua High South Purple Panthers.
During its recent five-game winning skein, the LHS bunch outscored those opponents by the lopsided tally of 17-5, and the locals entered this final week of the 2015-16 regular season with a real test against the streaking Bedford High Bulldogs to be followed by a senior night battle at home on Saturday, Feb. 27, with the struggling Salem Blue Devils.
“The kids feel good,” said Legro after the blanking of the rival Pinkerton crew. “We’re happy with our recent performances and we’re hoping to learn how to improve on our game.”
In the 3-0 win over PA at the Salem Icenter on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Lancers potted two goals in the first period and one more in the second, dominating play throughout.
The victorious LHS side barraged Pinkerton star goalie Jordan Puzzo with 42 shots, 39 of which the senior standout turned aside. But three goals ended up being more than enough for the hosts, whose own goalie Cody Baldwin only faced eight total PA shots all night.
Londonderry tallied the only goal it would actually require to win that contest a mere 3:14 after the opening face-off when Patrick Maloney tucked home a rebound. Andrew Morrissette and Nick Donnelly each got an assist.
The Lancers potted an insurance goal with 1:10 left in that opening stanza – and just a second remaining on a power-play – when Troy Muldoon was set up by Mike MacKenzie.
The hosts finished the scoring midway through the second stanza when speedy MacKenzie sprinted off on a long breakaway and put a shot of his own past PA keeper Puzzo.
At the completion of two periods, the Lancers held a 29-5 advantage in shots on net, and their lead on the scoreboard wouldn’t be tested.
“We’re hoping to continue some defensive support, which has earned our team three shutouts recently,” said Legro. “Ice time was spread around to all of our players tonight, which is always good for any team.”
Pinkerton fell to 4-11 in the division – with five straight losses – with the defeat.
And the LHS contingent kept the good stuff coming for itself in the Saturday night road battle with weak Nashua South, which dropped to 1-13 with its fifth straight defeat in the 3-0 blanking at the hands of Londonderry.
The Lancers potted a single goal in each period in snagging the shutout.
Londonderry trails Bishop Guertin, Concord, Bedford and Bishop Brady in the division as they head into the last week of the regular season.
Lancer forward Andrew Morrissette scrambles for the puck after a face off during last week’s 3-0 win over the struggling Pinkerton Astros.
Photo by Chris Paul