By Chris Paul
The Londonderry High School Varsity Hockey team had two solid wins over a couple tough opponents to make their way into the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (NHIAA) Division I Semifinals.
In one of those wins, the Londonderry squad was able to upset the number two seed in the championship during a 2-1 overtime victory on the road.
The LHS team finished the regular season at 10-8 and entered this year’s tournament as the number seven seed, which allowed them to host their first round game against the Hanover Bears.
The Bears wound up the season at 8-10 and was given the #10 seed in the playoffs, putting them on the road, against LHS, at the Tri-Town Ice Arena in Hooksett on Wednesday afternoon, March 1.
In that game, Londonderry came out very sluggish in the first period, allowing the Bears to take control of the game early.
With that initial momentum, the Hanover squad was able to get on the board and take an early lead, scoring the first of the game just under five minutes into period one.
Both teams got a little aggressive by the end of that first period, leaving the ice with men in both penalty boxes to start the second.
A little over halfway through the second period, at 6:19, on a break-away down the center of the ice, junior forward, Jayden Hamilton, tied the game when he took on the Hanover goalie with a crashing finish into the tender.
Following that, the Londonderry squad was able to take the lead on a penalty shot, with just under a minute left in the period.
Lancer sophomore forward, Brett McKinnon, gave his team a 2-1 advantage by tucking a wrist shot to the right side of the net on the penalty after being slashed on a breakaway headed to the net seconds earlier.
Londonderry took that lead into the third period and they stayed aggressive, but wound up letting Hanover even the score at two-a-piece with 8:54 left in regulation.
Bears forward, Jack Wilkinson, made it 2-2 midway through the final period.
With just under three-minutes left in the game, the Lancers took full advantage of having a two-man advantage due to the Bears late game aggression.
At 2:07 in the third, junior forward, Mike Maloney, had his slap shot blocked during a five-on-three onslaught, but junior forward, Matt Boyon, was there to knock in the game-winning rebound shot.
After that exciting win, the Lancers were tasked with traveling south on Saturday, March 4, to take on the second seed, the Windham Jaguars, in the quarterfinals.
Despite dropping their regular season game, 8-3 at the halfway point of the season, the Lancers kept pace with WHS through three periods of regulation and headed into overtime with a 1-1 tie.
In overtime, the Lancers were able to pull off the upset and advance to the semifinals.
Londonderry will face the number three-seed, the Bishop Guertin Cardinals, on Wednesday night, in the semifinals, at the JFK Arena in Manchester starting at 7:30 p.m. The Lancers beat BG 4-3 back on Feb. 8.