By Chris Paul
After knocking out the number two seed in the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division I State Championship in the quarterfinals, the Londonderry High School Hockey squad gave the number two seed a run for their money, but fell to Bishop Guertin in the semifinals 5-3.
The Lancers made their way into the playoffs as the number seven seed and were able to capture two, one-goal victories to make it into the semifinal game against BG (#3 seed) on Wednesday night, March 8, at the JFK Coliseum in Manchester.
The team started their run with a 3-2 win over the Hanover Bear (#10 seed) in the first round and followed that up with a 2-1, overtime victory against Windham High School (#2 seed).
In the semifinals against the higher-seeded Cardinals, Londonderry shocked their opponents with the first goal of the game coming just seconds into the first period.
Junior forward, Brandon Morin, broke down the right side of the ice after the initial face-off and put it by the BG goalie on a wrist shot from just before the circle.
The game progressively got pretty aggressive, with Londonderry landing the first penalty in the opening minutes, but managed to stave off BG’s attempts at a shorthanded goal. Senior goalie, Aiden Cardosi, made two big stops, one with just 23-seconds left on Card’s power play.
Bishop Guertin senior, Tim Kiely, tied the game at 10:54 on a breakaway against one LHS defender.
Following that goal, several hard checks from both sides raised tempers by the six-minute mark.
Cardinal James Mantone got the go-ahead at 2:56 in the first and senior forward, Logan Bower, very nearly got the equalizer on a tip from in front of the net with just over two-minutes left in the period.
In the second period, Londonderry came out of the locker room very aggressively and once again gave BG a man advantage early, but was able to hold off the Cardinal offense.
Throughout that period, down by one, the Lancers stayed assertive and had a number of bids warded off by the strong BG defense.
At 4:50 in the second period, a cross check by the Card’s Mike Ponto, in front of net, led to a close, but unsuccessful penalty shot attempt by junior Mike Maloney.
The disappointment didn’t last long though, as the following face off led to a game-tying goal.
Junior Matt Boyon was positioned perfectly to tuck in a rebound off a Jayden Hamilton shot from just in front of the net.
The LHS goalkeeper, Cardosi, got two more big saves at 2:30 and at 1:49 of the second to retain the 2-2 tie going into the break. Londonderry finished the second period out-shooting BG 17 to 11 in the game.
In the final period, LHS did an excellent job killing an early tripping penalty by James McPhail just under a minute in, BG took the one-point lead at 10:12 after getting caught off guard during a shift change.
The 4-2 Cardinal lead came less than a minute later and at 4:15 BG made it 5-2.
Senior Ben Padykula got one back to make it 5-3 with a shot from the right circle at 3:28.
Trailing by two, LHS played without a goaltender in final two-minutes of the game, but the BG defense proved too tough.
The Cardinals went on to beat the Bedford Bulldogs 4-3 in the NHIAA finals on Saturday, March 11, at the SNHU Arena.