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EAGLES ARE CHAMPIONS

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The checklist is complete,

(Above) The Eagles 2017 checklist which hung in the locker room this season.

The Kennett High ice hockey team successfully crossed the final item off its to-do list for the 2016-17 season on Saturday afternoon at the Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester (the former Verizon Wireless Arena) when the Eagles topped defending champs Berlin/Gorham 4-0 to win the Division III title.

With the championship, the fourth in 10 years, the top seeded Eagles gained a measure of respect, something the team had been striving for after being picked for fourth place in the annual Hockey Night in Boston end of season poll.

“That motivated the team some,” said Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach. “The kids were on a mission to prove we were the best team in the division. All the credit goes to the kids. We kind of mapped out what we wanted to do in the finals and they executed the game plan really well.”

The Eagles last reached the finals in 2012 when they beat Alvirne 4-3 in overtime.

Kennett is an incredible 152-45-6 in Lane’s 10 seasons as head coach, and that now includes winning four state championships, making seven finals appearances and eight Frozen Four appearances over that span.

Berlin, which ended a 43-year drought with its first state hockey crown, beat KHS 4-0 in the semifinals last year on its way to a championship victory over Belmont/Gilford.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for Mike Poulin and the Berlin hockey program,” Lane said. “They lost 11 kids from last year’s team, and to be able to make the finals this year, that speaks to how good of a coach Mike is and the sort of program Berlin has. Mike and I have become good friends over the years, and afterwards he joked to Justin (Frechette, assistant coach for KHS) and me, at least you didn’t get those stupid haircuts for nothing.”

Poulin was referring to the new haircuts coaches Lane, Frechette, Mike Deyak and Joe Murphy got prior to the finals. They all got Mohawk haircuts, while a number of players on the team got mullets & mohawks.

“(Freshman) Chet Johnston is the team barber,” Lane said, laughing. “He cut Mike’s and Joe’s hair. I didn’t trust him with mine. I’ve lost enough of mine on my own. Justin and I had out regular barbers cut ours.”

Kennett and Berlin/Gorham split their two meetings during the winter, with each winning at home. The Eagles won 6-1 at Ham Ice Arena on Jan. 11. The Mounties won 3-1 at Notre Dame Arena on Feb. 8.

The deciding game belonged to the Eagles.

Kennett outshot Berlin/Gorham in every period and created the better of the scoring opportunities. The KHS defensive pairings of Mackenzie Murphy with Reilly “Sheep Dog” Murphy and Conner Furtado with Trevor Olivier bottled up the Mountaineer forwards. And, when the Mounties had a clean shot on goal, Kennett junior Johnny Biggio was dynamite, stopping everything that came his way. He yielded just two goals in three playoff games, including posting back-to-back shutouts in the semifinals and finals, proving why he’s the best goalie in Division III.

“We had Kenzie and Sheep Dog match up with Cam Cochran and Hunter Fauteux’s line so they couldn’t get going on the forecheck,” Lane said. “Cochran (a 30-goal scorer this winter) is a good player. He’s a kid who can get under your skin and he’s done that in the past. Furtado and Olivier were matched up against Berlin’s heavier line of (Owen) Dorval and John Arguin. They kept things to the perimeter, giving Johnny a clear view most of the time. Johnny had a great playoffs.”

Kennett nearly broke on top with 11:54 to play in the opening period when Colby Couture got in behind the Berlin defense and uncorked a shot, but Berlin’s sophomore goalie Trent Labrecque made a fine glove save.

“For a young sophomore goalie, I thought Labrecque handled himself really well,” Lane said.

With 9:36 to play in the period, the Eagles got their lone power-play of the contest when a Mountie was called for a slash. Kennett cashed in 57 seconds later with Caleb McPherson lighting the lamp for the first of his two goals in the game. He pounced on the rebound of an Anthony Graziano shot and went five-hole on Labrecque, giving the flock from Conway the lead it never relinquished. Furtado was credited with the second assist.

“Our power-play has been a weapon for us for much of the year,” Lane said. “We only got one power-play Saturday, but we cashed in on it. That was a big goal. I think it gave us the momentum and got the nerves out.”

Biggio kept the lead intact three minutes later when Berlin threatened on a faceoff in the Kennett zone. The puck got slid back to the top of the circle, where Dorval fired a laser through some pretty good traffic, but Biggio got a pad on it.”

“I thought that was Johnny’s best save of the night,” Lane said.

Play was physical throughout, especially in the opening 15 minutes where big hits were the order of the afternoon. Furtado and Reilly Murphy both had bone-jarring hits on a couple of Mountaineers, while Dorval returned the favor with a clean hit to the chest area of Couture.

“I thought it was a really well officiated game,” Lane said. “The hits were all clean. Colby took a huge hit. We’re really lucky to have (team trainer) Teddy Nutting. He worked on Colby between periods, so he was able to go. I know he played in pain. I think you could tell how much this game meant by the number of pucks we got in front of to block. It wasn’t just one person, everyone did that.”

Kennet nearly made it 2-0 with 21 ticks left on the clock in the period when Connor Doucet had a good chance stopped by Lebrecque.

The Eagles outshot the Mountaineers 9-4 in the period.

The second period didn’t feature a ton of scoring opportunities, but Berlin/Gorham did get two power-play chances after Eagles were sent to the sin bin for cross-check and hooking penalties six minutes apart. Despite being a man down, it was KHS that created the best scoring chance. It came from Michael Seavey with 10:07 to play, but was saved by Labrecque.

The best chance for the Mounties came with 3:02 to play in the period when Travis Lamontagne deeked his way past two Kennett players, but his shot went just wide on the short side of the net.

Kennett doubled its lead with 1:23 to play in the middle frame. Once again, it was McPherson. The talented junior scored unassisted.

“Caleb is a 5’6″ kid who just outworks people in front of the net for pucks,” Lane said. “Berlin is a hard-nosed working team and you have to match that to be successful. Caleb did exactly that. I couldn’t be happier for him to have this sort of success.”

Shots were 21-11 through two periods for Kennett.

Kennett, which skated three lines to Berlin’s two, saw that depth play off in the third period. The Eagles carried the play for large chunks of the period, outshooting the Mounties 7-5, for a 28-16 overall advantage.

“All the credit goes to the kids for our ability to skate three lines,” Lane said. “I knew we’d play well in the third period.”

The Eagles tacked on an insurance goal with 5:59 to play, and it was a goal worthy of the finals. Mackenzie Murphy fed a streaking Doucet in stride and he made no mistake beating Lebreque over his left shoulder to make it 3-0.

“That goal shows how good a player Kenzie is,” Lane said. “He came out of the zone and the pass was there, but he just waited an extra second and the seam opened up and he found Connor. When Douce goes in like that, we feel pretty good about the outcome. We needed Douce to be Douce and he was.”

With 1:51 to play, the Kennett faithful burst into song, with the student body chanting, “It’s all over!”

Doucet sealed the deal with 1:13 to play with an empty-net unassisted goal.

The final siren sounded and the Eagles flocked to Biggio to celebrate.

“It was a great team effort,” Lane said. “I’m really happy for this team. We pushed this team harder than most we’ve had because we felt they had the ability to be special.”

Members of this year’s Kennett team are seniors Tanner Brown, Leah Canavari and Anthony Graziano; juniors Johnny Biggio, Colby Couture, Connor Doucet, Conner Furtado, Shane Gauthier, Mackenzie Murphy, Caleb McPherson and Michael Seavey; sophomores Cody Bryan, Cole Gregg, Trevor Olivier and Jeffrey Palmer; and freshmen Chet Johnston, Trevor LaRusso, Bobby LeBlanc, Reilly Murphy, Conner Tofflemoyer and Miles Woodberry.

“I’m proud of this junior class, but I’m also really proud of the seniors,” Lane said. “The junior class pushed the resurgence of Kennett hockey back on top. The senior class came in as freshmen and were asked to play before they were really ready. We only had 13 players their freshmen year. For them to get the opportunity to get to the finals and win a championship, means a lot. Leah Canavari becomes the first girl in team history to get a championship medal. Anthony Graziano has turned into such smart hockey player. Tanner Brown had had to deal with injuries much of his career, but I thought he played the best game of his career on Saturday. He was physical and won the battles on the walls.”

The Eagles capped their championships with the traditional parade from Conway Village to North Conway’s Schouler Park and back.

“The really neat thing was when we got to Beep-Beep Deli our escort was (Conway Patrolman) Ricky Gaudreau,” Lane said. “He was in goal when we won the first one in 2009, a 4-0 shutout of Souhegan.”

Kennett finishes its season 18-3 in Division III play and 21-3 overall after winning the annual Peter Hall Holiday Tournament in December.

“We’ll enjoy this one for a couple of weeks and then start thinking about next year,” he added, but was quick to point out, “It’s really nice to know we have 18 of 21 players back next year.”

Eagles to Play for State Title

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team will play for the Division III State Championship.

The top seeded Eagles booked their ticket to Saturday’s title game (12:15 p.m.) at Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester (the former Verizon Wireless Arena) with a stellar performance in a 3-0 victory over No. 4 seed Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Plymouth State University on Wednesday.

Kennett will meet a familiar foe for the championship game in the Berlin Mountaineers. The defending state champs, the No. 3 seed in these playoffs, beat No. 2 Belmont/Gilford 4-2 in the opening semifinal game at PSU on Wednesday.

The Eagles last reached the finals in 2012 when they beat Alvirne 4-3 in overtime.

“It’s been awhile since we were in the finals,” said Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach. “It’s great to have our last game of the season be for the championship. I know it’s going to be the most difficult of the year, but we’re excited to be going back to Manchester.”

The Eagles are an incredible 151-45-6 in Lane’s 10 seasons as head coach, and that now includes winning three state championships, making six finals appearances and nine Frozen Four appearances over that span.

Berlin, which ended a 43-year drought with its first state hockey crown, beat KHS 4-0 in the semifinals last year on its way to a championship victory over Belmont/Gilford.

Kennett and Somersworth/Coe-Brown had split two games during the regular season this winter with each winning on their home ice. The Eagles won the first encounter 4-3 on opening night on Dec. 14.

The Bearcats held serve in their barn, winning 6-2 despite Kennett outshooting them, on Feb. 18. Somersworth/Coe-Brown had a new goalie between the pipes in that game in foreign-exchange student Casper Marott, from Denmark, who stopped pretty much everything that came his way on that night. Marott went 6-3-1 in the regular season, while compiling an impressive 1.49 goals against average, tops in Division III among starting goalies.

Right behind was Kennett junior Johnny Biggio, who went 14-3 during the season with a 1.73 goals against average.

“We knew it would be tight with two very good goalies,” Lane said.

KHS outshot the Bearcats 26-24, but this time it was Biggio who stopped every puck rubber biscuit that came his way.

“Biggio was fantastic,” Lane said. “I told everyone afterwards in the locker room we’re a team built on balance and we got great contributions from everyone tonight.”

Lane said he knew the hometown flock was ready to play before his troops even took to the ice.

“Our team was just really focused,” he said. 

Kennett controlled the play early on and held a 7-2 shot advantage in the first five minutes, but Marott was on his game.

The game was scoreless through the first period and deep into the second frame. Actually, it was 0-0 for the opening 28 minutes, 50 seconds.

With 1:10 left in the second period, Kennett took the lead for good. The Eagles ran a faceoff play in their defensive zone that saw Mackenzie Murphy win the puck and send it down the right side to Connor Doucet. The talented junior beat beat Marrott with a wrist shot just under his right pad.

“We couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” Lane said.

KHS doubled its lead 96 seconds into the third period, and once again it was Doucet who lit the lamp. Doucet blocked a shot and then went coast-to-coast and fired a shot just under the crossbar, making it 2-0.

“It was a real pretty goal,” Lane said, but admitted, “it was a good feeling to be up 2-0, but I still wasn’t feeling comfortable.”

Lane was feeling much more reassured with 7:06 to play when freshman defenseman Reilly Murphy scored his first high school goal. Murphy had said he wanted his first goal to be memorable and he got it on the biggest stage to date.

Murphy took pass from older brother Mackenzie and fired a shot through a screen that beat Marott.

“We were all really excited for Reilly,” Lane said.

The Bearcats drew the lone power-play opportunity of the night with five minutes to play, but the KHS defense was equal to the task.

“We played good shutdown defense,” Lane said. “There was only one penalty all night. I thought it was a really well officiated game. I think the key to the game was we skated three lines and they skated two. By the third period you could see they were starting to run out of gas. Shane Maurice is a great coach. I think he got the most out of his team.”

Lane thanked all of the youth hockey players, students, parents and alumni who made the trek to Plymouth for the game.

“The crowd was awesome,” he said. “I can’t thank everyone enough for the all the support. Hopefully, everyone can make the trip to Manchester on Saturday. Having this sort of support means the world to our team.”

In the opening semifinal, Berlin/Gorham broke a 2-2 tie with 13:05 to play in the third period on an Noah Schoenbeck goal. Cam Cochran added an insurance empt-net goal with 20 ticks left on the clock.

Kennett and Berlin/Gorham also split their two meetings during the winter with each winning at home. The Eagle won 6-1 at Ham Ice Arena on Jan. 11. The Mounties won 3-1 at Notre Dame Arena on Feb. 8.

“Like I said before this next one is going to be the hardest game of the season to win,” Lane said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Mike (Poulin, head coach of Berlin/Gorham). He and his team play the game the right way. They’re the defending champs. I always say they’re the champs until someone beats them in March.

“It’s pretty cool to have the two most northern hockey teams in the state play for the title,” he added with a smile. “It’s kind of a shame we have to go all the way down to Manchester to play it.”

Lane said the key to the game is pretty simple.

“It may be the finals, but it’s still just a hockey game, nothing has changed,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a physical game. We’ve got to stay disciplined and score more goals than them.”

Directions to Southern New Hampshire Arena from the north:
• Take I-93 South towards Manchester.
• At split, take the left fork to I-293 South/Everett Turnpike towards Manchester/Nashua.
• Take Exit 5 to Granite St./Downtown.
• At the bottom of the ramp, turn left onto Granite Street towards Elm St./Downtown.
• Arena is ahead 1/2 mile on right.

People can get advanced tickets for the game on Friday from Kelley Murphy at Kennett High School. Tickets are $7 students/$9 adults.

Eagles Return to the Frozen Four

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team scored three power-play goals on its way to a comfortable 8-2 victory over Pembroke/Campbell in the opening round of the Division III playoffs before more than 500 spectators at the Ham Ice Arena on Saturday night.

With the win the top seeded Eagles (16-3) advance to the Frozen Four, where they will meet No. 4 seed Somersworth/Coe-Brown at Plymouth State University on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.).

“We had a good first and a good third period,” Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “In the second, we got a little out of our game. We all know Pembroke/Campbell’s story of this year. They were pushing for a home playoff spot and then they had some goalie issues. I think they were a good test. I’m happy we got through it and everyone came out healthy.”

Kennett took a lead it never relinquished with 9:21 to play in the opening period when Michael Seavey found the back of the net from close range with the puck sliding past the left pad of the goalie. Colby Couture and Chet Johnston picked up assists on the goal.

The Eagles doubled their advantage 66 seconds later with their first power-play tally. Caleb McPherson lit the lamp when he tucked home a pass from Couture.

It looked like the hosts might blow the game open early, but the PAC (9-11), had other ideas and responded with a goal 20 seconds later at the 8:27 mark. Matthew Tremblay was credited with the goal, but it may have inadvertently been knocked into the net by an Eagle.

Kennett extended its lead with a PAC player in the sin bin with 1:45 to play in the period. Connor Doucet scored on a wrist shot from Trevor LaRusso and Mackenzie Murphy to make it 3-1.

McPherson gave the Eagles a three-goal cushion when he found pay-dirt ,unassisted, just nine seconds into the second period with his second goal of the night.

Pembroke/Campbell nearly pulled a goal back with 9:47 to play in the second frame. On the power-play, the PAC got behind the KHS defense, but goalie Johnny Biggio brought the hometown flock to its feet with a tremendous sprawling save to deny Tremblay his second of the night.

“Johnny was solid,” Lane said. “I thought we did a nice job of keeping (PAC shots) to the perimeter for the most part.

The visitors did close the gap 20 seconds later when Nate Lamontagne banged home a rebound to make it a 4-2 game.

Kennett regained its three-goal advantage with 5:43 left in the period when Couture scored Kennett’s third power-play in as many chances when he went five-hole. Trevor LaRusso and Johnston picked up the assists.

The Eagles tacked on three third period goals to put the game out of reach.

Anthony Graziano redirected home a pass from McPherson and Doucet with 12:20 to play, making it 6-2.

With 11:35 remaining, Couture scored his second of the game and fourth point of the night with a slapshot that found the lower right corner of the net. Seavey and Conner Furtado got the assists.

Johnston capped the scoring with a fine individual effort with 9:53 to play when he blocked a shot and turned defense into instant offense, streaking the length of the ice and beat the PAC goalie for an unassisted strike.

The goal put the remainder of the game into running time due to the six-goal third period mercy rule.

Kudos to fellow sports scribe Josh Spaulding who predicted the 8-2 scoreline (this reporter had a 7-1 pick).

On the coldest night of the winter, the Ham Ice Arena was rocking all night in support of the Eagles.

“It was a great atmosphere to play in,” Lane said. “The team fed off the crowd. This town supports our programs so well. I can’t say enough about the support we get. I’d love to see everyone come to Plymouth on Wednesday. Everyone is invited.”

In other quarterfinal contests Saturday: No. 2 Belmont/Gilford (15-3-1) beat No. 7 Monadnock (9-10), 6-0; No. 3 Berlin/Gorham (15-3-1) beat No. 6 Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes (9-10), 4-2; No. 4 Somersworth/Coe-Brown (14-4-1) beat No. 5 John Stark/Hopkinton (11-7-1), 6-0.

The semifinals are slated for Wednesday, March 8, at Plymouth State University, with Belmont/Gilford playing Berlin/Gorham at 5:30 and Kennett playing Somersworth/Coe-Brown at 7:30 p.m.

Lane said the Eagles will face a quality Bearcats side in the Frozen Four.

“They are well coached (Shane Maurice), and they have arguably the top line in the division in Casey Pridham, Joel Boulanger and Griffen Bono, who are ranked No. 1, No. 5 and No. 6 in the league in scoring,” he said. “It’s a line that moves the puck very well and can take control of a game in a hurry.

“They’re obviously hungry like us,” Lane added. “We know we’ve got to play our best hockey of the season on Wednesday night.”

The Division III finals are scheduled for Saturday, March 11, at the Verizon Wireless Arena, at 12:15 p.m.

Eagles host Pembroke-Campbell in Division III Quarter-Finals Saturday at 6 pm

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The top seeded Kennett High ice hockey team learned late Wednesday night who it will play in the quarterfinals this Saturday. The Eagles will play the No. 8 seed Pembroke/Campbell at the Ham Ice Arena at 6 p.m.

For more than two periods Wednesday night it looked anything but certain that Pembroke/Campbell would be making the trip to Conway. No. 9 seed ConVal/Conant gave P/C all it could handle by jumping out to a 4-0 lead and even carrying a 4-1 advantage into the third period. P/C got the game-winner with 32 seconds to play to punch its ticket to the next round.

“They’re obviously a team we’re pretty familiar with having just played them last week,” Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach, who made the trek to Everett Arena in Concord to scout Wednesday’s game, said. “They’re probably the most physical team we played this winter. They’ve got a very good coach in Marc Noel. They are a team that just doesn’t go away. They got down 4-0 (to C/C) and never quit.”

Lane calls Pembroke/Campbell “a gritty team,” and one his troops need to be prepared for.

“I think they’ll come ready to play us,” he said. “We’ve got to be ready for everything they throw at us. We need to play our game and stay disciplined.”

Kennett beat Pembroke/Campbell 10-2 at Everett Arena on Feb. 22. KHS came out flying against P/C, scoring twice inside the first two minutes and 41 seconds of the opening period.

“They’re a tough, physical team, but I thought our teal line — Trevor LaRusso, Tanner Brown and Jeffrey Palmer — matched their intensity,” Lane said following the game.

In other quarterfinal contests: No. 2 Belmont/Gilford (14-3-1) vs. No. 7 Monadnock (9-9); No. 3 Berlin/Gorham (14-3-1) vs. No. 6 Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes (9-9); No. 4 Somersworth/Coe-Brown (13-4-1) vs. No. 5 John Stark/Hopkinton (11-6-1).

The semifinals are slated for Wednesday, March 8, at Plymouth State University, at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. (if Kennett wins it would play at 7:30 p.m.).

The Division III finals are scheduled for Saturday, March 11, at the Verizon Wireless Arena, at 12:15 p.m.

“This is my favorite time of the year,” Lane said. “If you can’t get up for the playoffs, something is wrong.”

Members of this year’s Kennett team are seniors Tanner Brown, Leah Canavari and Anthony Graziano; juniors Johnny Biggio, Colby Couture, Connor Doucet, Conner Furtado, Shane Gauthier, Mackenzie Murphy, Caleb McPherson and Michael Seavey; sophomores Cody Bryan, Cole Gregg, Trevor Olivier and Jeffrey Palmer; and freshmen Chet Johnston, Trevor LaRusso, Bobby LeBlanc, Reilly Murphy, Conner Tofflemoyer and Miles Woodberry.

With the playoffs here, Kelley Murphy once again reached out to the community to help give the Eagles a home-barn advantage on Saturday. She sought personal and business sponsors to help cover the $6 admission fee the NHIAA charges for students at playoff games. For the third year in a row she received around $900 in donation for all Kennett students and MWV Youth Hockey players to get into the game for free. She also purchased pom poms for the game for fans.

“Kelley has once again done a phenomenal job,” Lane said. “We got a ton of generous donations from area businesses. We can’t thank everyone enough for their support. Hopefully, we’ll have a huge crowd and that will give us a great home barn advantage.”

Eagles Clinch 1st Place

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team went a perfect 3-3 last week and continued to cross items off its to-do list.

With the three wins — 10-1 over Laconia Winnisquam at Ham Ice Arena on Senior Night on Feb. 20; 10-2 over Pembroke/Campbell at Everett Arena on Wednesday; and 3-0 over John Stark/Hopkinton at Lee Clement Arena on Saturday — the Eagles closed the book on the regular season with a 15-3 record and secured the No. 1 seed for the Division III playoffs.

“It was a good week for us,” said Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach. “I’m proud of the kids, but now we’ve got to hit the reset button and get ready for the playoffs.”

Nine teams make the playoffs in Division III. Pembroke/Campbell (8-10), the No. 8 seeds, will host No. 9 ConVal/Conant (7-9) in a preliminary game on Wednesday night. The winner will travel to Conway to play Kennett in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 6 p.m.

ConVal/Conant beat Pembroke/Campbell 10-5 at home on Saturday in the lone meeting between the two teams this winter.

Lane said he plans to scout Wednesday’s game.

“We’re a little bit behind in the sense that everyone else already knows who they’re playing on Saturday,” he said.

In other quarterfinal contests: No. 2 Belmont/Gilford (14-3-1) vs. No. 7 Monadnock (9-9); No. 3 Berlin/Gorham (14-3-1) vs. No. 6 Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes (9-9); No. 4 Somersworth/Coe-Brown (13-4-1) vs. No. 5 John Stark/Hopkinton (11-6-1).

The semifinals are slated for Wednesday, March 8, at Plymouth State University, at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. (if Kennett wins it would play at 7:30 p.m.).

The Division III finals are scheduled for Saturday, March 11, at the Verizon Wireless Arena, at 12:15 p.m.

The Eagles played a solid game on Saturday against John Stark/Hopkinton, out-shooting their hosts 34-21.

Kennett finally got on the scoreboard with 1.7 seconds to play in the second period. Mackenzie Murphy slid a puck across the ice that freshman Chet Johnston redirected home for a 1-0 lead.

“That was a huge goal for us,” Lane said. “(John Stark/Hopkinton) had just killed off a five-on-three power-play and appeared to have gained the momentum, but Kenzie and Chet got it back. That was a huge swing.”

KHS doubled its lead six minutes into the third period. Michael Seavey, who was all over the ice and played his best game of the season, according to Lane, found Colby Couture, who got the puck to Murphy, who beat the goalie to his stick side.

John Stark/Hopkinton had a couple of power-play opportunities after that with chances to cut the lead, but goalie John Biggio was on his game in the Kennett net.

“Johnny was real solid,” Lane said. “ I thought it was one of his best effort of the season. He really earned the shutout. When called upon, he made saves look routine.”

Caleb McPherson closed out the scoring for the Eagles with an empty-net goal with Trevor Olivier picking up the assist.

Eagles Clinch Top 3 Seed

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team clinched a home playoff berth on Wednesday with a first-rate performance on the road against Pembroke/Campbell at the Everett Arena in Concord. In their lone visit to Everett this winter, KHS cruised to a 10-2 victory, marking the second time this week they’ve hung 10 goals on an opponent (they beat Laconia-Winnisquam 10-1 on Monday at home on Senior Night).

The win improves Kennett to 14-3 on the season, and guarantees it can finish no worse than third in the regular season standings.

The Eagles can secure the No. 1 seed for the playoffs with a win or a tie at John Stark/Hopkinton (11-1-5) this Saturday (12:30 p.m.).

“We accomplished one more of our goals,” Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “We wanted to finish in the top four to get a home playoff game. We know we’ll be home on Saturday, March 4 (6 p.m.), hosting someone. We’ve still got a lot left to play for though. John Stark will be tough. We beat them 5-3 in the (Peter Hall) Christmas Tournament, and 2-1 at out place back in January.”

KHS came out flying against P/C, scoring twice inside the first two minutes and 41 seconds of the opening period.

“They’re a tough, physical team, but I thought our teal line — Trevor LaRusso, Tanner Brown and Jeffrey Palmer — matched their intensity,” Lane said.

Mackenzie Murphy, who had a season-high six points on the night, put a shot on the host’s net, but the puck fell to LaRusso, who calmly tucked it home.

Nine seconds later, KHS doubled its pleasure when Brown took a feed from LaRusso and beat the netminder to his glove side.

P/C got on the scoreboard 76 seconds later when Jake Tremblay scored the first of his two goals on the night.

Kennett restored its two-goal advantage three minutes later when Murphy fired home a power-play goal off a Colby Couture feed.

“Kenzie had a huge game,” Lane said.

Tremblay closed out the first period scoring when he beat Johnny Biggio to his blocker side to make it a 3-2 game.

The Eagles erupted for seven unanswered goals in the second period when they outshot P/C 21-6 over 15 minutes.

Biggio picked up his second assist of the season when he found a streaking Chet Johnston with a clearing pass. The talented freshman made no mistake, making it 4-2 just 2:29 into the second period.

With 9:16 to play, Mackenzie Murphy capped off what Lane called “an incredible” shift when he scored off an assist from Johnston and Reilly Murphy.

Two minutes later, Connor Doucet turned defense into instant offense when he blocked a shot, skated the length of the ice and scored unassisted, making it 6-2.

A mere 14 seconds later, it was 7-2 when Couture converted a pass from Michael Seavey.

With 3:15 to play, Mackenzie Murphy appeared to have iced the puck, but Couture out-hustled the hosts to the puck and beat the keeper through the five-hole.

“Colby has just matured into a really good center,” Lane said. “He does so many of the little things so well.”

With 2:45 to play in the period, Doucet netted his second of the night with helping markers going to Seavey and Mackenzie Murphy.

A minute later, Seavey made it 10-2 on a goal set-up by Mackenzie Murphy and Miles Woodberry.

The third period was played under running time due to the six-goal mercy rule lead.

Biggio played the first couple of minutes of the period in goal before giving way to Bobby LeBlanc. Biggio stopped 14 of the 16 shots he faced, while LeBlanc turned away both shots that came his way.

“I thought Johnny had a real strong game in net,” Lane said. “He was really engaged, and when he was tested came up big for us.”

This was the lone trek to Everett Arena this winter because the NHIAA has moved the Division III semifinals from Concord to Plymouth State College.

“I’m kind of partial to Everett Arena,” Lane said. “It’s a great old barn and brings out a great hockey atmosphere, but as long we we earn the right to go on to the semifinals I’ll be happy.”

With nine teams making the playoffs this winter, only seven teams have secured postseason spots heading into the last games of the season. Of those seven, only John Stark/Hopkinton knows its seed, securing the No. 5 spot.

“It’s been a great season for the league,” Lane said. “This is the most competitive that it’s been. Fortunately, we’re trending towards playing our best hockey.”

With the playoffs looming, Kelley Murphy is once again looking to the community to help give the Eagles a home-barn advantage on March 4.

“I am currently looking for personal and business sponsors to help us cover the $6 admission fee the NHIAA charges for students at playoff games,” Murphy said on Thursday. “Help me get our first 125 students in free! Contact me if you would like to help (murphychaos,nh@gmail.com).”

This is the third year in a row that Murphy has taken on this challenge and hopes to raise around $900 for students and pom poms for the game.

Senior Night turns out just right for the Eagles

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Senior Night went just as planned for the Kennett High ice hockey team on Monday at the Ham Ice Arena. The Eagles recognized their three seniors — Tanner Brown, Leah Canavari and Anthony Graziano — for their commitment and dedication to the program before the puck dropped and then easily handled visiting Laconia-Winnisquam 10-1.

The win lifted Kennett to 13-3 on the season and keeps it atop the Division III standings.

Laconia-Winnisquam, which does not have a senior on its roster, remained winless on the winter, falling to 0-15.

The Eagles broke the game open with five second period goals and never looked threatened by the Wolfpack, who had just three more shots than the hosts scored goals. KHS held a 51-13 shot advantage.

“It was a very nice Senior Night,” said Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach. “I don’t think the night could have gone any better. Leah Canavari and (freshman) Miles Woodberry both got their first varsity goals. A lot of the younger plays gained a ton of experience in a varsity situation. It was a good night. Thing went really well.”

KHS took the lead five minutes into the contest when Caleb McPherson pounced on the rebound of a Connor Doucet shot and made no mistake from close range. Graziano picked up the second assist on the play.

The Eagles doubled their lead with 4:31 left in the opening period when the captain, Mackenzie Murphy, beat the Wolfpack netminder to his glove side with what turned out to the eventual game-winning goal. Michael Seavey and Chet Johnston had the helping markers.

The hometown flock put the game away with three goals in the first 98 seconds of the second period. Thirty-six seconds into the frame, McPherson netted his second, going five-hole on the goalie. Murphy and Doucet had the assists.

Thirty seconds later, Woodberry opened his high school scoring account off a picture-perfect feed from Canavari.

KHS made it 5-0, 32 seconds later, when Seavey scored, beating the L-W keeper to his glove side. Colby Couture and Johnston assisted on the goal.

Murphy scored his second goal of the game with 10:16 left in the period with an unassisted strike.

With 8:42 to play in the frame, Trevor LaRusso tucked home the rebound of a Conner Furtado shot to make it 7-0.

The Wolfpack avoided the shutout with 1:39 left in the period with a power-play goal by Devin Miles from Jayson Shelvin and Nick Luther.

Doucet closed out the period with a goal with just one tick left on the clock from Canavari and McPherson, pushing the score to 8-1.

The third period was played under running time due to the six-goal lead mercy rule.

Doucet scored his second of the evening from Canavari and Cody Bryan with 13:06 to play.

Canaveral capped a career-best four-point night with her first varsity goal coming with 9:22 to play. McPherson found her with a nice pass in front and the senior rifled it home to close out the scoring.

Freshman Bobby LeBlanc made the start in goal, making six saves in the opening 22 minutes. Sophomore Cole Gregg worked the final 23 minutes, stopping six of the seven shots he faced.

Kennett is scheduled to close the book on the regular season this week with a pair of road contests. The Eagles are slated to play Pembroke/Campbell (8-8) at the Everett Arena in Concord on Wednesday, and close out the week, Saturday (12:30 p.m. at Lee Clement Arena) against John Stark/Hopkinton (11-1-4).

Eagles control their own destiny

 By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Despite a weekend loss, the Kennett High ice hockey team still controls its own destiny when it comes to gaining the No. 1 seed for the Division III playoffs. If the Eagles win their final three regular season contests, they will clinch the top spot for the postseason.

Kennett outshot (33-26), and, by most accounts, outplayed host Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood on Saturday night, but it was the Bearcats who came out on top on the scoreboard, winning 6-2. The loss dropped Kennett to 12-3 in Division III, while Somersworth improved to 12-3-1.

“The top four teams (Berlin/Gorham and Belmont-Gilford are both 12-3-1) all have three loses,” Lane explained. “We’re the only one out of the top four without a tie. If we win out, we control our own destiny and will get the No. 1 seed.”

KHS got a helping hand in its bid for the No. 1 seed over the weekend when Kearsarge/Plymouth (7-9) upset Belmont-Gilford 3-2 on Saturday.

The Eagles were in action Monday when they hosted Laconia-Winnisquam (0-14) on Senior Night. Results of the game were not known as of press time.

Prior to the puck dropping, KHS planned to honor is three seniors — Tanner Brown, Leah Canavari and Anthony Graziano — for their commitment and dedication to the program.

Kennett found the back of the net first in its contest with the Bearcats. Junior Connor Doucet lit the lamp four minutes into the game when he beat Marott to his blocker side. Graziano and Caleb McPherson assisted on the goal.

The hosts leveled the score inside of 10 seconds when they won the draw off a face-off and a shot was deflected past goalie Johnny Biggio.

The Bearcats took their first lead of the night with just over four minutes to play in the first frame. Casey Pridham, who leads Division III in scoring, beat Biggio with a backhanded shot from close range.

Kennett tied the game at 2-2 four minutes into the second period on a fine play by Colby Couture when he banged home a rebound.

“It was a great effort by Colby,” Lane said. “Colby was all over the ice. He’s done a really good job for us all season.”

The Bearcats took the lead for good two minutes later when Griffen Bono pounced on a loose puck and tucked it home after a scramble in front of the KHS goal.

Somersworth/Coe-Brown added to its lead less than three minutes into the third period on a bit of a flukey goal. Joel Boulanger took a shot that went off the half wall and landed on Biggio’s back, trickling into the goal.

The Eagles threw caution to the wind in an attempt to cut the deficit. They pulled Biggio with 80 seconds to play. Pridman added an insurance goal 12 seconds later with the empty-net goal.

The Bearcats closed out the scoring with 40 seconds to play.

“Credit Somersworth/Coe-Brown with the win and we move on from here,” Lane said. “The kids battled hard all night. We don’t accept losing, but we can walk out of the rink with our heads up, knowing we did some good things.”

Kennett got some good news on the injury front. Junior defenseman Conner Furtado returned to game action after missing the past six contests due to a broken hand.

“He looked good,” Lane said. “I thought our defense played a solid game.”

Kennett is scheduled to close the book on the regular season this week with a pair of road contests. The Eagles are slated to play Pembroke/Campbell (8-8) at the Everett Arena in Concord on Wednesday, and close out the week, Saturday (7:30 p.m. at Lee Clement Arena) against John Stark/Hopkinton (11-1-4).

Kennett shuts out Kingswood, again

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team shutout arch-rival Kingswood for the second time this season, beating the Knights 2-0 at Ham Ice Arena on Saturday afternoon in a penalty-filled contest.

Seventeen penalties were whistled in Saturday’s game, compared to just two when the two sides met in Wolfeboro on Jan. 4. The Eagles won that game 6-0.

“It was a tough game to play from the standpoint that you really couldn’t get any flow to game,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said.

The win lifted Kennett to 12-2 on the season and into a statistical tie with Belmont-Gilford (12-1-1) atop the Division III standings.

Kingswood falls to 4-1-8 on the winter in Division II with the loss.

The Eagles outshot the Knights 33-16, but Kingswood goalie Joey Vetanze kept the contest scoreless into the third period by making a number of impressive saves.

“Vetanze was phenomenal for them,” Lane said. “He really stood on his head and made some incredible saves to keep them in it.”

Lane was pleased with the way his troops played.

“I thought we did a lot of things well,” he said. “It was nice to have that level of play. I think we’d been missing it for a couple of weeks. This was a good rebound after the Berlin game (a 3-1 loss on Wednesday), where we didn’t think we played our best. This was a good answer for us. We had a jump in our step and all three lines got involved.”

Kennett nearly took the lead with 8:17 left in the first period. On the power-play, the Eagles got the puck to Colby Couture, who tried to go short-side on Vetanze, but the netminder thwarted the bid.

Vetanze rose to the occasion again at the 5:01 mark when he made a nice save on a shot by Connor Doucet. Doucet deeked a defender, went to his right and uncorked a blast that Vetanze made a glove save on.

The Eagles had two quality shorthanded efforts with under three minutes to play in the opening period. Caleb McPherson, who was all over the place, created a scoring opportunity out of nothing from behind the Kingswood goal that Vetanza somehow managed to keep from finding the back of the net.

“Caleb was all over the ice,” Lane said. “He and Anthony Graziano both played well in front of the net. They were on top of their games, which was great to see.”

Moments later Doucet shifted past two Knights and fired a low laser that Vetanza got a pad on.

The Knights had a five-on-three power-play late in the period, but goalie Johnny Biggio made a point-blank stop on Andy Contrada with 2:06 to play.

Thirty-five seconds later, Contrada beat Biggio over his shoulder, but one of Biggio’s best friends, the crossbar, stopped the puck and kept the game scoreless.

The second period was packed with penalties. The Eagles spent more than half the period in the sin bin.

The Knights had a five-minute power-play, but were outshot 5-1 by the Eagles.

“Our penalty kill was real strong,” Lane said. “I thought defensively we were solid. Our forwards did a nice job of coming back and getting involved.”

Doucet and Couture were solid on the forecheck and helped create chances for Michael Seavey and Mackenzie Murphy.

Biggie stopped the lone shot by Erick Skelley on the power-play with a blocker save.

Vetanza made his save of the night with 4:03 left in the period when he stopped a streaking Seavey at point-blank range.

Kennett finally broke the deadlock with 11:06 to play when Doucet lit the lamp with assists to Murphy and Anthony Graziano.

The Eagles doubled their pleasure 90 seconds later when Graziano pounced on a rebound and made no mistake from close range. Doucet and McPherson picked up the assists.

The Knights best scoring chance of the third period came on a slapshot by Colby Clegg, but Biggio was equal to the task. Moments later he smothered a shot by Andy McMullen to preserve the shutout.

Kennett is scheduled to play its final regular season home game on Wednesday (6 p.m.), when Laconia-Winnisquam (0-12) comes to Ham Ice Arena. Prior to the game, the Eagles plan to honor seniors Tanner Brown, Leah Canavari and Anthony Graziano for their commitment and dedication to the program.

“Senior Night is always a fun night,” Lane said. “These three have done their part for Kennett hockey and deserve to be recognized.

The Eagles are slated to close out the week on Saturday (5:30 p.m.) with a trip to Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (11-1-2).

KHS beat Somersworth/Coe Brown 4-3 in the season-opener in Conway.

Moutaineers top Eagles thanks to two third period goals

By Jean LeBlanc

The Berlin Daily Sun

 

BERLIN — Junior forward Hunter Fauteux had a goal and an assist to help the Berlin/Gorham boys’ hockey team to a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the previously top ranked Kennett Eagles in Berlin on Wednesday.

The Mounties improved to 10-3 on the winter, while the loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the 11-2 Kennett team and has them currently in the No. 2 position in the Division III standings.

It was flashlight night for the Mountaineers, as the student body came out to try and fire up the locals against the division’s top team. However, it was Kennett that carried play throughout the first period. The Eagles gave the Mounties fits in trying to get the puck out of their own end. At the end of the first period, there was no scoring and the visitors held a slim 11-10 edge on shots on goal.

Berlin picked up the early momentum in the second period. Fauteux picked up a loose puck near his blue line at top speed and had an edge on the Kennett defender on the far side of the ice. He was able to get a good angle in on the Kennett goal. Fauteux waited for Eagle netminder, Johnny Biggio, to drop to the ice and fired his perfectly placed wrister over Biggio’s shoulder for his ninth goal of the season, but more importantly a 1-0 lead.

Just a little over a minute later, the Eagles showed why they have been in the top spot all season on a beautiful goal scored by junior Michael Seavey at 2:33 of the middle period. Seavey gobbled up a loose puck at the red line and split the two Berlin defenders, and moved the puck to get B/G netminder Trent Labrecque to commit to the ice and then went top shelf to tie things at 1-1.

Kennett again took control of the remainder of the second period, appearing to be just a step quicker than the Mountaineers. After two periods of play, the Eagles held a 20-16 edge on shots on goal, but the contest was deadlocked 1-1 with 15 minutes to play.

The Mounties came out to play in the third period. The Eagles were whistled for an interference call 50 seconds into the final session. It took Berlin just nine seconds to make the visitors pay. Off the faceoff, junior Cam Cochran controlled the puck near the top of the circle. Senior captain Owen Dorval positioned himself in front of Kennett’s Biggio as Cochran let go a hard wrister low to the ice. Dorval changed the direction of the puck and beat Biggio to the near post for the power-play goal. Dorval’s 12th this season was set-up by Cochran for the 2-1 lead.

Berlin kept up its hustle and, just three minutes later, scored a picture-perfect goal that came off some great forechecking. Fauteux stole a clear out pass near the Kennett blue line and moved it to Leo Croteau, who was bearing in on the Eagle goal. The pass to Croteau was deflected and bouncing. Croteau was able to grab the bouncing puck out of the air, put it to the ice, and in one motion slide the puck across to team mate Damon Ruel. The senior winger had the wide open net, deposited his shot into the goal for his sixth lamp-lighter of the winter for a 3-1 lead.

The Eagles did get their chances throughout the remainder of the third period. Junior Connor Doucet rattled the post just a minute after the Mounties had their two-goal advantage. It was Doucet again that had a clear break-in on the near-side with 10:23 to play. This time Labrecque made the big stop and kept Berlin/Gorham’s lead at 3-1.

The locals killed two Kennett power-plays and survived any thought of a Kennett comeback. At the sound of the siren, Berlin had ts win and moved Kennett from the top spot of the division.

Kennett’s Biggio had 27 saves for the Eagles. At the other end of the ice, Labrecque had 32 blocks for the home team.

Next up for both clubs, the Eagles will host Kingswood (4-1-8 in Division II) on Saturday (4 p.m.), while Berlin/Gorham heads to John Stark/Hopkinton (8-4) on Saturday (7:30 p.m.).

Eagles Clinch Play-Off Berth

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team crossed two items off its to-do list last week. First, the Eagles guaranteed themselves a winning record this season with a comfortable 5-1 victory over visiting Sanborn at Ham Ice Arena on Wednesday. The Eagles outshot the visiting Indians 30-11 in the contest. On Saturday, they became the first team in Division III to secure a playoff spot following a 4-2 victory over Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes in Laconia.

The wins lift KHS to 11-1 on the season, and also keeps it atop the Division III standings.

Sanborn fell to 1-10 on the winter, while Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes slipped to 5-7.

“We played real well,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said of the Sanborn win. “Their goalie (Austin Conley) stood on his head, making a bunch of great saves. It easily could have been 8- or 9-1. This guarantees us a winning record, which is always one of the goals at the start of each season.”

Kennett wasted little time opening the scoring. Captain Mackenzie Murphy took a pass from Caleb McPherson behind the net and fired a blast that caromed off a Sanborn defender’s thigh into the back of the net just 97 seconds into the contest.

Five minutes later, Trevor LaRusso scored what proved to be the game-winner when he went five-hole with a shot off a pass from Michael Seavey to make it 2-0.

Kennett outshot its guest 11-2 in the first period.

Connor Doucet stretched the lead to 3-0 with the lone goal of the second period. With 1:57 left in the period, Seavey cycled around the Sanborn net, found Colby Couture, who slid the puck to Doucet, who banged it home for his 12th goal of the season.

Kennett held a 22-5 advantage in shots on goal after 30 minutes, but Sanborn made things a little interesting when it scored 2:32 into the third period. Luc LeBlanc took a feed from Liam Dolan, who intercepted centering pass, to make it a 3-1 game.

Doucet restored the three-goal cushion with 8:43 to play when he finished off a nice pass from Mackenzie Murphy. Murphy picked up his second point on the night, giving him 22 on the season through 11 games, tops among Division III defensemen.

With 6:58 left in the game, freshman Chet Johnston lit the lamp off a pass from McPherson to close out the scoring.

Junior goalie Johnny Biggio stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced to pick up his league best 10th win on the season. He lowered his goals against average to 1.53. He also raised his save percentage to .918.

“I think all around this was one of our better performances in awhile,” Lane said. “We controlled the pace of the game throughout, did a nice job on the forecheck and stayed out of the (penalty) box. Both teams had just one penalty.

“It’s a good way to start February,” he continued. “We want to be playing our best hockey in February, this was a good start.”

On Saturday, against Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes, the Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead and never looked back. They outshot the Renegades 42-12 on the night.

“The final score was somewhat closer than the play,” Lane said. “They always seem to give us a tough game. It’s always nice to get a win on the road, and this gets us into the playoffs, which was one of the goals at the start of the season. Now we want to keep it going and see if we get a home playoffs game (which goes to the top four teams in the division).”

Kennett took the lead for good with 4:15 to play in the opening period. Riley Murphy fed LaRusso down the right side, and the talented freshman went five-hole with a blast to make it 1-0.

Less than two minutes later, Couture found the back of the net with assists going to Cody Bryan and Doucet.

Kennett extended the lead to 3-0 at 2:56 of the second period when Mackenzie Murphy scored off a feed from McPherson.

The Renegades got on the scoreboard with 44 seconds left in the second period on a Collin Sheehan goal.

The Eagles got their three-goal advantage back in style. Playing shorthanded, five-on-three, defenseman Trevor Olivier intercepted a Renegade pass and went the length of the ice, making no mistake for the goal.

“Trevor is playing really good hockey,” Lane said. “I have to go back into the record books because it’s been a long time since we’ve scored a five-on-three shorthanded goal.”

M-I closed out the scoring with 6:21 to play on a goal by Garrett McCarthy.

Biggio picked up the win in net.

Kennett is scheduled back in action this Wednesday (6 p.m.) when it travels to Berlin’s Notre Dame Arena to take on the defending state champs Berlin/Gorham (9-3).

“We know that’s going to be a really tough game,” Lane said. “They’re always tough in their building. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, and if you can’t get up for Berlin/Gorham something is wrong. We know after what happened here (Jan. 11, KHS won 6-1 in Conway), that they’ll be ready for us. We have to match their intensity from the start.”

The Mountaineers are coming off a 6-0 loss on the road at Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood (10-1-2) on Saturday.

“The shots were pretty even in that one,” Lane said. “I expect Berlin to be eager to get back on the ice (Wednesday).

Eagles handle Sanborn, guarantee a winning season

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team guaranteed itself a winning record this season with a comfortable 5-1 victory over visiting Sanborn at Ham Ice Arena on Wednesday. The Eagles out shot the visiting Indians 30-11 in the contest.

The win lifts KHS to 10-1 on the season, and also keeps it atop the Division III standings.

Sanborn fell to 1-10 on the winter.

“We played real well,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “Their goalie (Austin Conley) stood on his head, making a bunch of great saves. It easily could have been 8- or 9-1. This guarantees us a winning record, which is always one of the goals at the start of each season.”

Kennett wasted little time opening the scoring. Captain Mackenzie Murphy took a pass from Caleb McPherson from behind the net and fired a blast that caromed off a Sanborn defender’s thigh into the back of the goal just 97 seconds into the contest.

Five minutes later, Trevor LaRusso scored what proved to be the game-winner when he went five-hole with a shot off a pass from Michael Seavey to make it 2-0.

Kennett outshot its guest 11-2 in the first period.

Connor Doucet stretched the lead to 3-0 with the lone goal of the second period. With 1:57 left in the period, Seavey cycled around the Sanborn net, found Colby Couture, who slid the puck to Doucet, who banged it home for his 12th goal of the season.

Kennett held a 22-5 advantage in shots on goal after 30 minutes, but Sanborn made things a little interesting when it scored 2:32 into the third period. Luc LeBlanc took a feed from Liam Dolan, who intercepted a centering pass, to make it a 3-1 game.

Doucet restored the three-goal cushion with 8:43 to play when he finished off a nice pas from Murphy. Murphy picked up his second point on the night, giving him 22 on the season through 11 games, tops among Division III defensemen.

With 6:58 left in the game, freshman Chet Johnston lit the lamp off a pass from McPherson to close out the scoring.

Junior goalie Johnny Biggio stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced to pick up his league best 10th win on the season. He lowered his goals against average to 1.53. He also raised his save percentage to .918.

“I think all around this was one of our better performances in awhile,” Lane said. “We controlled the pace of the game throughout, did a nice job on the forecheck and stayed out of the (penalty) box. Both teams had just one penalty.

“It’s a good way to start February,” he continued. “We want to be playing our best hockey in February, this was a nice start.”

The Eagles are scheduled to close out the week on the road against Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes (5-6) on Saturday (6:30 p.m.).

The Renegades have dropped their last three games after riding a three-game win streak. The latest setback came at ConVal/Conant (4-7), 4-1, on Jan. 28.

“Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes always seems to give us a tough game,” Lane said. “I knew we can’t afford to take anything for granted against them.”

The Eagles enjoyed a little time off the ice and some team building time with a laser tag excursion to Portland on Thursday. Team Deyak won the tournament, followed by Team Lane, Team Frechette and Team Murphy.

Eagles Skate Past John Stark-Hopkinton

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Connor Doucet pounced on a misplayed puck and tucked it home with 13:45 to play in the third period on Saturday afternoon to give the Kennett High ice hockey team a 2-1 victory over visiting John Stark-Hopkinton at Ham Ice Arena.

The win lifted the Eagles to 9-1, and keeps them atop the Division III standings, while the loss dropped the General Hawks to 6-4, and keeps them in fifth, behind Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (8-1-1), Belmont-Gilford (8-1-1) and Berlin-Gorham (8-2).

“It was a good afternoon of hockey and a good win for us,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “John Stark-Hopkinton is a very good program. They’ve been to the Frozen Four each of the past four seasons, reached the finals twice and won it once. They’re a pretty big team that can pay physical. They gave us a good battle and always do.”

Following a scoreless first period in which the Eagles outshot the General Hawks 10-9, KHS was the first team to find the back of the net. With 6:06 left in the second period, Mackenzie Murphy took a pass from Michael Seavey and fired a shot at the John Stark-Hopkinton goal. Junior Caleb McPherson was in the right place at the right time to redirect the puck past goalie Jameson Bourque for his ninth goal of the season. Murphy picked up his 14th assist of the season (third best in Division III behind Somersworth-Coe-Brown’s Casey Pridham and Joe Morrisette, who have 17 and 15, respectively), while Seavey collected his third assist of the campaign.

The General Hawks drew level with 2:29 left in the second period when Brett Patnode scored from Noah Chapman on a two-on-one break in on the Kennett goal. It was his ninth goal this season.

Kennett took the lead for good with 13:45 left in the contest. Bourque mishandled a puck in front of his net and the speedy Doucet scooped up the biscuit and put it in the basket for a 2-1 lead. It was Doucet’s 11th goal of the season.

“It was a bit of a fumble by the goalie, but it just goes to prove that good things happen when you go to goal,” Lane said.

Johnny Biggio, who stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced, picked up his division-leading ninth win of the season in net. He also lowered how goals against average to 1.58 and raised his save percentage to .919.

“I thought Johnny had a great bounce back game,” Lane said. “He’d been fighting the puck a bit recently, but he had a real strong game on Saturday. I think his best save came when he stopped a breakaway in the second period.”

The Eagles, who played their second straight game without defenseman Conner Furtado, who is rehabbing a broken hand he suffered against Belmont-Gilford on Jan. 18, have been adjusting on the blue line. Sophomore Cody Bryan has paired with captain Murphy while sophomore Trevor Olivier and freshman Riley Murphy have looked at home on the ice together.

“Cody made a great play when (the General Hawks) had a breakaway,” Lane said. “He came from behind and was able to lift the player’s stick before he shot (and stopped the threat). I was real pleased with how we played defensively. We hope to have Conner back in a few weeks and then we’ll be even stronger on the blue line.”

Lane got a rare opportunity to do some midweek scouting on Wednesday when he went to Laconia Area to watch a doubleheader. Belmont-Gilford topped Berlin-Gorham 5-1 in the opener, and John Stark-Hopkinton edged Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes (4-5) in the nightcap 5-4.

“It was nice to be able to do a little bit of scouting,” Lane said. “Seeing two games in a night worked out well.”

Kennett is scheduled to play two games this week, hosting Sanburn (1-6) on Wednesday (6 p.m.), and traveling to Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday (6:30 p.m.).

“Sanborn is well-coached and has a really strong, athletic goalie in Austin Connolly,” Lane said. “All of the teams around the division are pretty solid this winter and are getting better. As I told our team, everyone is improving. We can’t afford to be complacent, we’ve got to get better, too.”

Kennett gets back into the win column

 

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team got back into the win column on Saturday with a 6-4 victory over Kearsarge-Plymouth on the road at Plymouth State University’s rink.

The win lifted the Eagles to 8-1 on the season (11-1 overall), and keeps them atop the Division III standings along with Berlin-Gorham, which is 7-1.

Kearsarge-Plymouth is 2-6 on the season.

“We got back on track,” said Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach.

Kennett suffered its first loss of the season last Wednesday, falling to Belmont-Gilford (6-1-1) 4-1 at Ham Ice Arena.

“We’ve reached the midway point of the season, and to be 8-1, that’s a good place to be,” Lane said.

Kennett jumped on the scoreboard there minutes into the first period when Colby Couture beat Cody Rowe, the K-P goalie, to his glove side with a shot after Tanner Brown did some nice work for the assist.

With 7:48 left in the period, Connor Doucet doubled the lead for the Eagles when he beat Rowe five-hole (between his pads).

The hosts battled back to knot the game with goals with 3:15 and 44 seconds left in the period. Both came on power-play tallies.

Caleb McPherson restored Kennett’s lead with a goal early in the second period off an assist from Mackenzie Murphy to make it 3-2.

With 1:31 left in the period, Cody Bryan lit the lamp for the first time in his varsity career with his first high school goal coming off assists by Brown and Murphy.

Five minutes into the third period, Murphy found the back of the net when he beat Rowe to his blocker side, making it 5-2.

K-P made things interesting with two goals 22 seconds apart. The first, with 4:49 to play after a battle in front of the KHS net, and the second with 4:27 left.

The Eagles took a timeout immediately, but the hosts came out of it and mounted a pair of solid chances in search of the equalizer, but goalie Johnny Biggio was equal to the task.

“Johnny made a couple of nice stops,” Lane said.

Couture tacked on an insurance goal with 1:14 to play with Brown and Doucet collecting assists on the strike.

It wasn’t the pettiest of games,” Lane said. “We’re still working on things (with the loss of defenseman Conner Furtado to a broken hand against Belmont-Gilford). We’ll get everyone healthy. Colby Couture was ill, but still had a three-point night for us.”

Kennett is scheduled back in action this Saturday for a rare noon start at Ham Ice Arena when the team welcomes John Stark-Hopkinton (5-3).

John Stark Hopkinton is coming off a 7-0 loss at Berlin-Gotham on Saturday.

Turn the page

By Lloyd Jones

“Turn the Page”, that’s the message Coach Mike Lane had for the Kennett High ice hockey team at practice on Thursday, the day after the Eagles suffered their first loss of the season. KHS, the last undefeated team in Division III, fell 4-1 at home at Ham Ice Arena to fourth ranked Belmont-Gilford on Wednesday night.

Despite the loss, which dropped Kennett to 7-1 (10-1 overall), the Eagles still sit atop the league standings. The Bulldogs of Belmont-Gilford improve to 5-1-1 and are tied for third with Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (also 5-1-1).

Berlin-Gorham, which Kennett beat last week, resides alone in second at 6-1.

“We’re ready to turn the page and move on from an ugly night,” Lane said Thursday. “We’ll bury that one and focus on preparing for Kearsarge/Plymouth (1-5) on Saturday (5 p.m. at Plymouth State University rink).

“Got to give credit to Belmont-Gilford, its a good team,” he said. “I think they were the hungrier team. The bottom line is we didn’t move our feet, and when you only have four shots through the first two periods, we didn’t really test them.”

Not only did Kennett lose the game, but it also lost talented junior defenseman Conner Furtado to a broken hand. He suffered the injury in the first period when he blocked a shot.

“Hopefully it’s not too serious and he’ll be back sooner rather than later,” Lane said. “Conner is a hockey player. He blocked a shot, taped up his hand between periods and took his shift to start the second period, but he came off the ice almost immediately saying he couldn’t go because he had no strength in the hand.”

The teams played to a scoreless first period. The Bulldogs broke the deadlock in the second period on a goal by Hayden Parent.

B-G, the current state runner-ups, doubled its lead two minutes into the third period when Chaz Hacking picked off a pass in the neutral zone, skated in on a breakaway and made no mistake from close range.

The Bulldogs extended their advantage three minutes later with a power-play goal by James Buckley.

Kennett goalie Johnny Biggio, who had 19 saves on the night, stopped the lead from growing further when he made two fine stops on a B-G power-play, robbing Hunter Dupuis with a blocker save with 5:17 to play, and then stymieing Alex Muthersbaug a minute later.

The Eagles made things interesting when Anthony Graziano scored his sixth goal in the last three games, when he beat Bailey Defosie from out front with 3:45 to play. Mackenzie Murphy and Connor Doucet.

Doucet came oh-so close to making a one-goal game with 1:03 to play. With Biggio out the net, the Eagles added another skater to the offense. Doucet forced Defosie into his best save of the night from point blank range.

“What we can take out of this game,” Lane said, “is when we got behind 3-0, we didn’t quit. After Graziano scored we had a couple of good opportunities to close the gap. I’m not discouraged. It’s a loss, but there’s still a lot of hockey to be played.”

Lane was also impressed with the play of forward Tanner Brown, who is coming back from illness last week.

“I think Tanner had a real strong game,” he said.

With Furtado on the shelf, Kennett skated just three defensemen for the final two periods with Mackenzie Murphy, Reilly Murphy and Trevor Olivier seeing lots of ice time.

“We allowed Belmont-Gilford 10 shots over the final two periods,” Lane said. “Kenzie, Reilly and Trevor did a nice job.”

B-G closed out the scoring on an empty-net goal by Dupuis with 36 seconds left.

In other KHS hockey news, Mackenzie Murphy has been promoted from assistant captain to captain.

“He’s done a really nice job,” Lane said. “As a coaching staff this was something we decided to do last week.”

Eagles take care of business; set teddy bear toss record

By Lloyd Jones

(Above) Following Saturday’s win the Eagles held their annual Skate with the Eagles. Over 50 young skaters joined the Eagles on the ice. Photo by Earl Hopkins

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team team took care of business on business appreciation day for the Eagles on Saturday at the Ham Ice Arena. The Eagles thanked the many businesses that support Kennett hockey in a pregame ceremony and then went out and handled ConVal-Conant, scoring seven goals in a row for a comfortable 7-2 win to remain atop the Division III standings at the league’s lone undefeated team.

The evening wrapped up in record-setting fashion with more than 135 teddy bears collected for Boston Children’s Hospital in the third annual Teddy Bear Toss. After that, more than 50 people took to the ice for the annual Skate with the Eagles.

“It was a great day all the way round,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “I think everything went really smoothly.”

Saturday’s win lifted Kennett to 7-0 in the standings and 10-0 overall, while ConVal-Conant slipped to 2-6.

Surprisingly, it was the Griffins that got on the scoreboard first, finding the back of the net two minutes into the contest on a slapshot by Luca Haeufler from just outside the blue line.

The Eagles responded quickly and drew level less than two minutes later when Connor Doucet scored from Conner Furtado after a nice cycle down low he slid a backhander past Wayne Robbins.

Freshman Chet Johnston put Kennett in front for good midway through the opening session when he stole the puck in the neutral zone, skated in and beat Robbins five-hole.

Anthony Graziano closed out the scoring in first period when he redirected home a Mackenzie Murphy wrist shot from the left slot.

The Eagles put the game away in the second period by scoring four more goals. Tanner Brown marked his return to the lineup after being sidelined due to illness, when he tucked a backhanded goal past Robbins from close range with 9:46 to play in the period from Jeffrey Palmer and Furtado to make it 4-1.

Kennett upped the lead to 5-1 with 7:54 to play in the second frame when Trevor Olivier scored his first career varsity goal on a shot from just inside the blue line. Furtado picked up his third assist on the play.

“Real happy for Trevor,” Lane said. “He’s been working really hard.”

Kennett’s next two goals came on the power-play against the Griffins, the current league-leaders in penalty minutes.

Graziano netted his second of the night and fifth in two games, when he redirected a shot by Colby Couture with 2:34 left in the period. Murphy picked up the second assist.

Caleb McPherson made it 7-1 with 40 seconds left on the period with a goal off a feed from Murphy.

ConVal-Conant, which was limited to just five shots on goal in the first two periods, pulled a goal back with 29 seconds left in the period on a Ryan Cochran tally from close range.

Johnny Biggio picked up the win in goal for the Eagles. He played just the first two periods before giving way to sophomore Cole Gregg for the final 15 minutes.

Following the game, the team’s third annual Teddy Bear Toss took center stage. Last year the Eagles collected 110 bears that were donated to charity. This year they had hoped to break the 125 teddy bear mark.

“A few people forget their bears and are planning to bring them in, but as of last count we were at 137 bears,” Lane said. “It was great to see. The credit for this goes to Mackenzie Murphy; he came up with the idea.”

After the tossing of the bears, the sixth annual Skate with the Eagles, a show of appreciation by the team to all MWV Youth Hockey players, season-ticket holders and general admission patrons took place. Countless youngsters sought out current Eagles for autographs and photographs.

In other KHS hockey news, the Eagles topped Berlin-Gorham 6-1 in a junior varsity game at Ham Arena on Friday night. Highlighting the win was junior Shane Gauthier, who netted his first high school goal.

“Shane is a great teammate to the kids,” Lane said. “His teammates were all really excited for him. I was happy to see it for him.”

Kennett is scheduled to open the week on Wednesday (6 p.m.) when Belmont-Gilford (4-1-1) comes to Ham Ice Arena.

“They’re one of the top teams in the league,” Lane said. “We’ve got to limit the penalties and be ready to play. Belmont-Gilford is a high-powered team that’s well-coached. We’re going to need a good effort.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a 3-3 tie on the road against Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood (4-1-1) on Wednesday.

The Eagles are slated to close out the week at Plymouth State University on Saturday (5 p.m.) for a contest with Kearsarge-Plymouth (1-5).

“The good thing is we’ve played really well and are on top of the standings,” Lane said, “but that means you have a bigger target on your back and you get everyone’s best game. We’ve got to be ready for that.”

Kennett hockey ends four-year drought against Berlin-Gorham

 

By Lloyd Jones

(Above) The Eagles celebrate Mackenzie Murphy’s second period goal. Photo Credit to Jamie Gemetti

CONWAY — The 14th time was the charm for the Kennett High ice hockey team which had not beaten Berlin-Gorham since it arrived in Division III more than four years ago. The Eagles dominated the Mountaineers in ever face of play Thursday night to leave the ice at Ham Arena with 6-1 victory in what had been billed as a battle of the undefeated teams in Division III. KHS scored five power-play goals in the win.

“Berlin has had our number for awhile,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “I thought we played really well, and our power-play clicked all night.”

Kennett now sits alone atop the Division III standings with a 6-0 record, while Berlin fell to 4-1, and slipped behind Belmont-Gilford and Somersworth/Coe-Brown, which are both 4-1-1, but ahead of the Mounties based on points.

Berlin-Gorham, the defending state champs, had held a 12-0-1 record against Kennett over the past four plus season. The lone tie (1-1) was in Berlin two years ago when KHS goalie Josh Kondrat made 57 saves.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for Berlin and (Coach) Mike Poulin,” Lane said. “I expected a very physical game and it was. I don’t think Berlin had things clicking the way it would have liked. They’re a great program and we’ll see them again this winter, at least once (Feb. 8 at Notre Dame Arena in Berlin at 6 p.m.).”

With a great crowd on hand — tons of students cheering on the hometown flock, and Berlin always travels well with supporters — the atmosphere was electric. It definitely seemed like much more than a regular season game in January. WMUR Channel 9 and Valley Vision Channel 3 were both on hand.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Lane said. “Youth hockey turned out along with students, faculty and community members. I think they all gave us a little extra pep in our step.”

Berlin created the first two scoring chances of the night, but beyond that was held to a season-low nine shots over the course of opening two periods. Travis Lamontagne tested Kennett goalie John Biggio, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts of Kingswood and Monadnock last week, just 26 seconds into the contest with a slapshot that the junior gloved. Thirty-two seconds later, speedy Cam Cochran got behind the Kennett defense, but Biggio thwarted him from close range when he attempted to go short side with his bid.

“I think that was probably Johnny’s save of the night and it came in the first minute,” Lane said. “He was solid again in net. I thought defensively we played really well. I know I’m biased, but I think Mackenzie Murphy and Conner Furtado are two of best defensemen in the league. To be able to have them anchor two defensive pairings it really helps us. We’ve paired Mackenzie with brother Reilly (a freshman), and Reilly was extremely physical (against Berlin). He had some timely hits, they were clean and served a purpose. We have Conner with Trevor Olivier, and you can just see how much Trevor is growing in confidence every day.”

Coaches Lane and Poulin played line chess for the opening few minutes, with each juggling lines to try to get the best match-up.

“It was a little choppy early,” Lane said, laughing. “I think between us there were 10 or more line changes in the two and a half minutes.”

Berlin’s sophomore goalie Trent Labrecque, who takes over for four-year starter Brenden Williams, who graduated last spring, came up with a clutch save at the 8:02 mark when he stopped a Furtado blast from the right slot.

The game turned Kennett’s direction at the 3:15 mark of the first period when Cochran was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty for a slash on Anthony Graziano.

The Eagles took the lead 12 seconds later on the first of their five power-play goals. Furtado found the back of the net off a nice feed from Mackenzie Murphy, with the second assist going to Colby Couture.

Kennett, which outshot the Mountaineers 10-5 in the period, doubled its lead 41 seconds into the second period on another power-play goal. Mackenzie Murphy took a low slapshot that Graziano perfectly redirected home past Labrecque.

Berlin got on the scoreboard with 11:59 left in the second period when Hunter Fauteux got behind the KHS goal and fed John Arguin the puck out front, and the assistant captain slid it past a screened Biggio to his right.

Labrecque, who had 23 saves, made a huge one with 10:29 to play in the period when he darted off his goal line to stop a hard-charging Connor Doucet from a breakaway.

Mackenzie Murphy restored Kennett’s two-goal cushion with 7:43 to play in the frame when he intercepted a Berlin pass, skated nonchalantly over the blue line and put a shot on net that beat Labrecque to his far side.

Berlin got its first power-play of the night with 3:34 to play when Kennett was called for too many skaters on the ice. The Eagles held the Mounties without a shot with Graziano and Caleb McPherson trying up the puck for large chunks of time.

The Mountaineers tried to get the offense going early in the third period with Owen Dorval firing to Biggio’s short side, but the goalie made a nice glove save with 11:38 left.

Cochran had two shots on the power-play with 9:02 to play, but Biggio made the initial save and then smothered the second attempt.

Kennett extended the lead to 4-1 when Graziano netted his second of the night on the power-play with another redirect of a Mackenzie Murphy shot. Couture got the second assist.

The Eagles added to their tally with a five-on-three power-play goal with 3:32 to play. Michael Seavey, who was all over the ice, scored from Murphy and Graziano.

At that point, the student section of Kennett fans burst into the, “warm up the bus,” chant.

Graziano closed out the scoring and completed his hat-trick with 3:01 to play with a power-play goal off a feed from Furtado.

Kennett cashed in on 5-7 power-play opportunities, while Berlin was 0-3.

“You need to make the other team pay when you have an advantage,” Lane said. “Anthony and Caleb took a beating in front of the net. It’s so nice to see it pay off with dirty goals.”

Kennett is scheduled to close out the week on Saturday (3 p.m.) when ConVal-Conant (2-5) comes to Ham Ice Arena.

Saturday’s game also marks the sixth annual Skate with the Eagles, a show of appreciation by the team to all MWV Youth Hockey players, season-ticket holders and general admission patrons. Prior to the game KHS will hold its annual Business Appreciation ceremony to recognize a few business who go above and beyond in their support for the team.

“It’s become a great tradition,” Lane said. “The kids and the players really look forward to it.”

Also on Saturday, it will be the team’s third annual Teddy Bear Toss, in which fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears and other stuffed animals and throw them on the ice following the game. Last year the Eagles collected 110 bears that were donated to charity. This year they would like to break the 125 teddy bear mark.

“The credit for this goes to Mackenzie Murphy, he came up with the idea,” Lane said. “He’s a really great kid, who cares about this community. There’s a great video up on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/jyle2dv) of the toss (last year).”

Eagles slip past Monadnock

By Lloyd Jones 

The Eagles made the long trip to Keene on Saturday, and, while they were unable to duplicate Wednesday’s performance, they still left town with a 3-0 victory over Monadnock. Kennett scored three third period goals and Biggio posted his second straight shutout between the pipes, stopping all 16 shots that came his way.

“We kind of had a letdown from out best performance of the season,” Lane said. “We got out of there with the win, we’ll take it.”

Kennett outshot the Huskies 33-16, but the game was deadlocked at 0-0 after the opening two periods.

“We didn’t play our style of hockey the first two periods,” Lane said. “I think we had a case of bus legs and struggled to get our feet moving. We were coming off what I thought was our best performance in a few years (against Kingswood) and didn’t do the things that makes us successful, that’s forechecking and getting the puck in down low.”

The Eagles took the lead two minutes into the third period when Caleb McPherson tucked home the rebound of a Trevor Olivier shot. Anthony Graziano picked up the second assist.

Connor Doucet doubled the Kennett lead when he scored on a breakaway midway through the period. Mackenzie Murphy added an insurance goal late with assists going to Michael Seavey and Biggio, who picked up his first career assist.

Lane said Biggio is playing well in net.

“Back-to-back shutouts, he’s just look real solid,” Lane said.

Kennett is scheduled back on the ice Wednesday (7 p.m.) when Berlin-Gorham (4-0), the defending state champ, comes to town in a battle between the lone unbeatens in Division III and the two farthest north programs in the Granite State.

“It should be a real good test for us,” Lane said. “They’re 4-0, they play the game the right way. They have a great coach in Mike (Poulin). I’ve got a ton of respect for their program. We’re going to have to play our best hockey.”

Kennett is scheduled to close out the week on Saturday (3 p.m.) when ConVal-Conant (1-4) comes to Ham Ice Arena.

Saturday’s game also marks the sixth annual Skate with the Eagles, a show of appreciation by the team to all MWV Youth Hockey players, season-ticket holders and general admission patrons. Prior to the game KHS will hold its annual Business Appreciation ceremony to recognize a few business who go above and beyond in their support for the team.

“It’s become a great tradition,” Lane said. “The kids and the players really look forward to it.”

Also on Saturday, it will be the team’s third annual Teddy Bear Toss, in which fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears and other stuffed animals and throw them on the ice following the game. Last year the Eagles collected 110 bears that were donated to charity. This year they would like to break the 125 teddy bear mark.

“The credit for this goes to Mackenzie Murphy, he came up with the idea,” Lane said. “He’s a really great kid, who cares about this community. There’s a great video up on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/jyle2dv) of the toss (last year).”

Eagles get bragging rights, handle Kingswood 6-0

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — In a battle of two previously unbeaten Carroll County rivals, bragging rights go to the Kennett High ice hockey team. The Eagles went on the road to Pop Whalen Arena in Wolfeboro and topped the host Kingswood Knights 6-0 on Wednesday night.

The win lifted Kennett to 7-0 on the winter and 4-0 in Division III play, while Kingswood slipped to 2-1 in Division II.

With the win, the Eagles picked up an extra point by virtue of knocking off a Division II team.

“It was a really good effort by the kids, I’m happy for them,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “It was a great crowd, a terrific atmosphere and it was Kingswood’s home-opener. To be able to get the game to running time in the third period (due to the six-goal mercy rule), was an impressive effort by the kids.

“I think we dictated the pace of the game and played well in all three zones,” Lane said of the key to the win. “We played hard all night. We came in 6-0, but really hadn’t played like we had in the (7-0) preseason. We did that on Wednesday. It was great to see what we’re capable of moving forward when we play as a team for 45 minutes.”

The Eagles, who outshot the Knights 34-15, took the lead for good with seven seconds left in the opening period.

“It was a great call by (Assistant Coach) Joe Murphy, who wanted to change the lines up at the end of the period,” Lane explained of the pairing of Caleb McPherson with Connor Doucet and Colby Couture.

Following a good forecheck, Trevor Olivier found Couture, who snuck the puck to McPherson, who came in from the backdoor and put the biscuit in the basket, making it 1-0.

Kennett doubled its lead 61 seconds into the second period. Conner Furtado fed Doucet a pass and he turned on the jets, beating a defender and then ripping a blast just under the crossbar.

Defenseman Mackenzie Murphy made it 3-0 with three minutes left in the second frame when he banged home a rebound.

McPherson put the Eagles further in front 29 ticks into the third period with his second of the night when he banked home a goal off the skates of the Kingswood netminder. Assists went to Anthony Graziano and Chet Johnston.

Doucet made it 5-0 at 3:05 of the period off an assist from Murphy, and completed his hat-trick (three goals) with seven minutes to play with assists going to Tanner Brown and Couture.

Johnny Biggio picked up the shutout between the pipes, stopping all 15 shots that came his way.

“We need to build off this performance,” Lane said.

The Eagles are scheduled to wrap up the week with a trip to Keene on Saturday to play Monadnock (2-1) at Keene Ice Arena at 4 p.m.

The Huskies are riding a two-game win streak after beating ConVal-Conant (1-4) on the road 3-1 on Wednesday.

Kennett opens 2017 with 5-1 win against Hollis-Brookline/Derryfield

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The Kennett High ice hockey team opened the new year just the way it closed 2016 — on a winning note. The Eagles remained undefeated in Division III play by topping Hollis-Brookline/Derryfield 5-1 at Ham Ice Arena in Conway on Monday afternoon.

The win lifted the Eagles to 3-0, and all alone atop the league standings, while the Cougars fell to 0-3.

Kennett outshot its guests 45-11, and the score could have been even more lopsided if it hadn’t been for stellar goalie play by Patrick McDonald, who stopped 39 of the 42 shots that came his way in 42 minutes between the pipes.

“They got very solid goalie play,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “(McDonald) was fantastic.”

Lane called it, “a good home win” by the Eagles, who actually had to come from behind for the third time this season.

“We like playing from behind,” Lane said, laughing. “It’s not a great recipe for success, but it’s worked so far.”

The Cougars, who moved down from Division II this year, lit the lamp on a power-play goal from Cam Bishop with 4:53 left in the opening period. Bishop pounced on the rebound of a Dam Poisson shot to give H-B/D the lead.

KHS, which outshot its guests 19-6 in the first period, drew level four minutes later. Caleb McPherson scored with assists going to Mackenzie Murphy and Anthony Graziano.

McPherson scored what proved to be the game-winner 17 seconds into the second period. Murphy launched a slapshot from inside the blue line that McPherson beautifully redirected into the back of the net.

“Caleb has such great hands around the net,” Lane said.

At the 7:50 mark of the second period, McPherson and Murphy had a two-on-one breakaway. Murphy got the goal by going five-hole to make it 3-1.

Kennett tacked on two more goals in the final five minutes of the third period. Graziano tucked home the rebound of a Conner Furtado shot at the five minute mark for the 4-1 lead.

Connor Doucet closed the scorebook with a well-placed shot under the crossbar from Murphy with just under four minutes to play.

Johnny Biggio picked up the win in goal for the Eagles, making 10 saves on a relatively quiet night.

“I thought the line of Caleb McPherson, Anthony Graziano and Chet Johnston was very strong,” Lane said. “It was their best game of the season collectively.”

Lane also praised the play of Colby Couture, who had been dominating face-offs and playing sound hockey.

“Colby really does a lot of little things quietly,” Lane said. “They’re things that don’t necessarily show up in the scorebook, but the coaches notice.”

Kennett is scheduled back in action on Wednesday (7 p.m.) when it makes its shortest road trip of the season, venturing to the Pop Whalen Arena in Wolfeboro to play Kingswood. The Knights are 2-0 in Division II play.

“They beat us 2-0 with an empty-netter the one time we played them last year,” Lane said. “They’re having a very good season.”

Kennett and Kingswood will play each other twice this winter in games that count in the standings, with the Eagles hosting the Knights on Feb. 11 (6 p.m.).

“I think it’s a good friendly-rivalry,” Lane said. “It makes sense for us to play each other twice. I know they’ll be a tough test for us.”

Kennett is slated to wrap up the week with a trip to Keene on Saturday to play Monadnock (1-1) at Keene Ice Arena at 4 p.m.

The Huskies, who are scheduled to play ConVal-Conant (1-3) on Wednesday (7:45 p.m.) are coming off a 3-0 home win over Sanborn (0-2) on Dec. 21.

“I really don’t know that much about them,” Lane said, “other than they’re supposed to have a pretty good goalie (Joey Joslyn).”

Eagles Win Peter Hall Christmas Classic

By Lloyd Jones

(Above) The Kennett Eagles won the 4th annual Peter Hall Christmas Classic defeating Somwersworth-Coe Brown 4-3 in overtime. Photo Credit – Josh Spaulding

CONWAY — Local hockey fans got the perfect holiday gift this week with three days of nonstop high school action at the Ham Ice Arena in the fourth annual Peter Hall Christmas Tournament. Six teams from around the Granite State participated in the tourney, which featured five one-goal games and a fantastic finish to the finals. Hosts Kennett High defeated Somersworth/Coe-Brown Northwood Academy 4-3 in overtime to claim the title for the first time on Wednesday night.

The three days of hockey attracted 1,130 paid spectators, including 400 for the final.

“I think people saw three real good days of hockey,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “We had what many people are predicting to be the top five teams in Division III (KHS, Berlin, Belmont-Gilford, Somersworth/Coe-Brown and John Stark/Hopkinton along with Dover from Division II) all here. Out of nine games, we had two go to overtime; five were one-goal games; and three were two-goal games.”

Lane’s Eagles went 3-0 in the tournament, beating Belmont-Gilford 3-2 in overtime on Monday; topping John Stark-Hopkinton 5-3 on Tuesday; and besting Somersworth/Coe-Brown in the finals.

“I’m real happy for the team,” Lane said. “Everyone worked really hard. We played some very good teams. We earned it. It was a real exciting final.”

Kennett beat Somersworth/Coe-Brown for the second time in two weeks. The Eagles beat the Bearcats 4-3 on opening night on Dec. 14,. also at Ham Ice Arena.

“We’re two very evenly matched teams,” Lane said.

Somersworth/Coe-Brown reached the finals by topping three-time defending champs Berlin/Gorham 5-3 on Monday, and then beat Dover 5-4 on Tuesday.

The Bearcats took the lead 1:23 in the first period.

“The goal came on a fluky bounce,” Lane said. “They had a three-on-two and went hard to the net and scored off an odd bounce.”

The lead was short-lived as Kennett netted the equalizer six minutes later with a power-play goal. Colby Couture fed Conner Furtado, who put a shot on net that Anthony Graziano made a perfect deflection on, tipping it just under the crossbar into the roof of the net.

KHS took the lead 33 seconds later on a goal from Couture off a feed from Doucet.

The Bearcats tied the game with a minute left in the first half of the second period after a scrum in front of the Kennett net. The puck fell to a Somersworth/Coe-Brown player, who tucked in the rebound.

Kennett retook the lead with 5 minutes left in the third period. Mackenzie Murphy, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, lit the lamp with a wrist shot to make it 3-2.

The Eagles looked poised to win the tournament in regulation play, but it wasn’t to be. The visitors scored a power-play equalizer.

“The hockey Gods had other idea,” Lane said, laughing. “A (Bearcat) batted the puck out of the air (scoring). I’m not sure the kid could do it again once out of 100 times.”

Just before time expired, the Eagles drew a power-play, which carried over into overtime. Skating four-on-three, KHS got the game-winner a minute into the extra session. Murphy set up the goal from the left seam, feeding a pass to Caleb McPherson, who went backdoor, putting the puck under the crossbar for the winner.

“It was an exciting finish,” Lane said. “I’m very happy for the kids.”

Kennett played another nail-biter in the opener against Belmont-Gilford.

“I think the key was we played very good situational hockey,” Lane said. “We got assessed a four-minute penalty with just over two minutes left in regulation, but we had a real strong penalty-kill. (Goalie Johnny) Biggio made a couple of outstanding saves and Colby Couture laid in front of a slapshot with 12 seconds left. The kids did a great job.”

Kennett was outshot 30-15 in the contest, but Biggio and his defense were up to the task.

“We kept a lot of shots to the perimeter and Johnny got good looks,” Lane said. “We probably turned down a few shots we should have taken.”

The Eagles scored 45 seconds into the opening period. Couture got the goal for KHS.

B/G got the equalizer off a scramble five minutes later.

Freshman Chet Johnston put Kennett in front 2-1 in the second period when he tucked home a feed from McPherson.

With 11 minutes to play, B/G drew level at 2-2.

Murphy netted the game-winner with 2:03 left in overtime. Furtado went down the wall, fed Graziano, who got the puck to the talented junior, who made no mistake, going five-hole to make it 3-2.

“Mackenzie had a great tournament,” Lane said. “Not only did he get the game-winner, but he had three or four incredible defensive plays against Belmont-Gilford.”

The Eagles needed to come from behind to beat John Stark/Hopkinton on Tuesday. They scored four goals in the third period to propel themselves to the 5-3 win.

“We played very well, especially in the third period,” Lane said. “It was a pretty good effort all the way around.”

KHS outshot the visitors 45-23 in the contest.

The Eagles took the lead midway through the first period on a tally from Michael Seavey off an assist by Couture and Furtado.

The General-Hawks equalized with 43 seconds left in the first period on a two-on-one strike. They took their first lead 4:34 into the second period.

Kennett drew level on a goal by Doucet from Reilly Murphy with 12:03 to play, but JS/H regained the lead 32 seconds later.

Doucet, who scored a natural hat-trick (three goals in a row), netted his second to tie the game 73 seconds later with an unassisted strike, beating the netminder five-hole.

With 7:23 to play, Doucet completed the hat-trick and scored what proved to be the game-winner with a power-play goal off an assist from Murphy.

McPherson put the icing on the victory cake with 3:03 to play with an outstanding individual effort banking the puck in from behind the net off the goalie.

“We did a nice job down the stretch,” Lane said. “Again, it was good situational hockey. They had a power-play late, plus they pulled the goalie for a six-on-four advantage. I thought we did a nice job of shutting that opportunity down.”

Named to all tournament team were goalie John Biggio (Kennett); defensemen Mackenzie Murphy (Kennett) and Joe Morrisette (Somersworth/Coe Brown); and forwards Owen Dorval (Berlin/Gorham), Caleb McPherson (Kennett) and Griffen Bono (Somersworth-Coe Brown).

The tournament is named after longtime Eagle coach Peter Hall. Hall began coaching the Eagles as an assistant in the 2001-2002 season. He coached for 10 years total under three different head coaches and spent one season as the head coach himself.

“Peter wasn’t able to be here,” Lane said. “He’s in Colorado for the holidays, but we sent him a team picture after the win. It was great night, ending three great days of hockey.

Kennett is scheduled to open 2017 by hosting Hollis-Brookline/Derryfield on Jan. 3 (4 p.m.) in a game that was was postponed Dec. 17 due to a snowstorm.

Eagles net a dozen against Laconia-Winnisquam

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Laconia Ice Arena has historically been a difficult barn for the Kennett High ice hockey team, but Wednesday night the Eagles looked right home in Belknap County. The local flock thrashed host Laconia-Winnisquam 12-0.

The third period was played under running time due to the six-goal mercy rule. Kennett entered the third period in front 8-0.

The win lifted KHS to 2-0, while Wolfpack slipped to 0-1.

“We got a lot of kids playing time and plenty of opportunity to compete. I think we had 13 or 14 players register a point. It was not like we left anyone out there to run wild or run up the score.”

The Eagles outshot the Wolfpack 52-11 for the game.

Junior Johnny Biggio picked up the win in goal for the team from Conway, play just into the third period before giving Bobby LeBlanc his first taste of varsity action. Biggio had eight saves, while LeBlanc stopped all three shots he faced.

“It was a good win for us,” Lane said. “We played pretty well and came away injury-free.”

Kennett took the lead for good 94 seconds into the contest when Colby Couture scored off a feed from Michael Seavey and Conner Furtado.

The Eagles doubled their lead with 6:43 left in the first period, and it wad Couture who lit the map from Trevor Olivier.

With 2:44 left in the first, Furtado scored off a feed from Jeffrey Palmer.

Connor Doucet capped the scoring in the first period with 1:08 to play when he converted a pass from Leah Canavari. It was Canavari’s first varsity point.

Couture capped his hat-trick 59 seconds into the second frame from Docuet.

Chet Johnston scored his first high school goal with 10:07 left in the period to make it 6-0. Reilly Murphy, who picked up his first high school point, and Caleb McPherson assisted on the goal.

Doucet scored his second of the evening with 1:58 to play in the session off a feed from Seavey and Furtado.

Anthony Graziano ended the second period scoring with 1:32 to play when he converted a pass from McPherson.

McPherson made it 9-0 just 28 seconds into the third period with a fine shorthanded, unassisted strike.

Seavey brought the lead to double figures with 9:55 play with Couture and Doucet collecting the assists.

Freshman Trevor LaRusso closed out the scoring by netting the final two goals to open his high school account.

Olivier assisted on the first goal with with 5:11 to play, and then Palmer assisted on the second goal along with Shane Gauthier, who picked up his first varsity point, with 3:10 to play.

The Eagles will host the fourth annual Peter Hall Christmas Tournament next week, with play running Monday through Wednesday at the Ham Arena in Conway. The field of six teams include the Eagles, Berlin High School, Belmont-Gilford High School and Somersworth/Coe-Brown High School, John Stark/Hopkinton and Dover.

Somersworth/Coe-Brown and three-time defending champs Berlin are scheduled to meet in the opening game at 3 p.m. on Monday, followed by KHS against Belmont-Gilford at 4:45 p.m.

The tournament is named after longtime Eagle coach Peter Hall. Hall began coaching the Eagles as an assistant in the 2001-2002 season. He coached for 10 years total under three different head coaches and spent one season as the head coach himself.

“Peter was a huge part of the Eagles first two State Championships,” Lane said. “It’s an honor to recognize Peter once again this season.”

Kennett is scheduled to open 2017 by hosting Hollis-Brookline/Derryfield on Jan. 3 (4 p.m.) in a game that was was postponed Dec. 17 due to a snowstorm.

Eagles rally to win opener 4-3

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Good teams find a way to win even on off nights. That was the case for the Kennett High ice hockey team in its season-opener against Somersworth-Coe-Brown at the Ham Ice Arena on Wednesday night. The Eagles looked a step slow all night, but still had enough to rally from a 3-1 third period deficit to best the Bearcats 4-3 in a thrilling finish.

Michael Seavey netted the game-winner with just 13 seconds to play when he capitalized on a misplayed puck by the visiting netminder that fell to the junior, who skated to his left and tucked the puck home to send the Kennett faith home with a smile on their faces and breathing a sign of relief.

“I think we had some nerves,” Mike Lane, Eagles’ head coach, said. “We fought the puck a bit and weren’t moving our feet like we should.”

Kennett took the first lead of the night with 8:16 to play in the first period when Mackenzie Murphy lit the lamp with a slapshot from just inside the blue line on a five-on-three power-play.

The Eagles came close to doubling their advantage 20 seconds later. While still on the power-play, Seavey found Connor Doucet in front of the net, and the junior let a blast fly that goalie Kevin Baker made his best save of the period on.

The Bearcats’ best chances in the opening session came with 3:53 and 3:03 to play in the period. KHS goalie Johnny Biggio was equal to the task. He thwarted the first attempt from Griffen Bono from point-blank range with a fine glove save. Biggio robbed Casey Pridham, who attempted to wrap the puck around the back on the net and in. Biggio held his ground and kept the game scoreless.

The second period saw the Eagles outshoot the Bearcats 13-5, but neither team created great scoring opportunities.

“We were flat,” Lane said. “It was almost like we were skating in quicksand. We allowed too many odd man rushes and left our defense out to dry all night. I don’t think anyone was happy with the way we played.”

Kennett held its 1-0 lead into the third period. The longer the game went on the more confident Somersworth-Coe-Brown became. The visitors netted the equalizer with 10:40 to play. KHS failed to clear the puck, which fell to Bono, who slid it to Pridham and he one-timed it past Biggio to his short side from 10 feet out.

The Bearcats made it 2-1 when they scored a power-play with 9:01 to play. Bono was in the right place at the right time to tuck a rebound into the left side of the net.

Things looked bleak for the home side when Pridham took advantage of Kennett’s flat play to make it 3-1 with 7:44 left.

The goal prompted Lane to call an immediate timeout.

“I told them we can’t tie the game on one shift,” Lane recalled. “I said, let’s get it to 3-2 over the next two or three minutes and then we’ll tie it and win it in overtime. I think we came out with more pep in our step.”

Just 29 seconds later, Doucette skated behind the Bearcats’ net and fed Seavey, who one-timed a shot home to make it a one-goal deficit with 7:04 to play.

KHS drew level 48 seconds later. Doucette flew down the right wing, faked a pass and uncorked a laser that sailed over Baker’s right shoulder into the net.

The Bearcats nearly left town with the points with 27 seconds to play, but Biggio made the save of the night when he stopped a two-on-bid and smothered the rebound.

“I thought Johnny was extremely good in net,” Lane said. “He moved really well in his crease, challenged the shooters and was quiet on the ice.”

The visitors called its timeout after that bid. It looked like overtime was looming, but the puck was played into the Bearcats’ zone and Baker came out of his crease to field it and misplayed the puck to Seavey. The talent junior took the gift and put a bow on it by tucking it into the empty net.

“We got a break there at the end,” Lane said. “We’ll take it. We had some nice efforts, but we need better all-around effort. We’re certainly a better team than we showed (Wednesday) night.”

Kennett was scheduled to host Hollis-Brookline/Derryfield on Saturday, but that came was postponed until Jan. 3 (4 p.m.) due to the snowstorm.

The Eagles are slated to wrap up their pre-holiday schedule with a trip to Laconia Arena on Wednesday (4 p.m.) to play Laconia-Winnisquam.

“They’re a young team with a new coach,” Lane said. “We always seem to struggle in that building for some reason. Hopefully we can change that.”

Eagles set for the puck to drop on season-opener on Wednesday

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — They don’t give out medals for preseason play, but if they did the Kennett High hockey team would be wearing gold. The Eagles have had an impressive preseason, winning all seven of their exhibition games while outscoring opponents 23-1.

“We’ve had a real good preseason,” Michel Lane, who begins his 10th season behind the bench as head coach, said. “The kids have been working hard. I’ve been pleased. I think we’re still a long way away from where we want to be as a team, but this is a good group. They’re hungry for success and willing to put in the time and effort to get better each time they step out onto the ice.”

The puck is scheduled to drop for real on the Division III season on Wednesday (6 p.m.) when KHS hosts Somersworth/Coe-Brown Academy, which is making the move down from Division II to Division III this winter. Prior to the game, the Eagles will retire the jersey of one of their own, Jamie Skelton, a four-year member of the team and 2006 graduate from KHS, who died last December after a well-fought battle with cancer.

“We want to honor Jamie,” Lane said. “It’ll be a good way for us to open the season with a nice tribute.”

The Eagles are an incredible 134-42-6 in Lane’s nine seasons as head coach, and that now includes winning three state championships, making six finals appearances and seven Frozen Four appearances over that span.

Kennett reached the Frozen Four last winter, falling to eventual champs Berlin. Kennett, No. 3 seed in the Division III playoffs last winter, outshot the second-ranked Berlin Mountaineers 29-22 in a semifinal contest but fell short on the scoreboard, losing 4-0 at Everett Arena in Concord. The game was much closer than the final score would indicate, however, as the third goal was a fluke and the fourth an empty-netter after KHS pulled goalie John Biggio for an extra attacker late.

The Eagles lost seniors Robert Thurston, Bryan Baker, Dan Nusbaum, Kate McPherson, Nick Ansaldi and Alex Roy to graduation last June.

Kennett, which opened preseason play on Nov. 28, opened its exhibition slate with three wins in mini 20-minute games at the Dover Jamboree on Dec. 3. The Eagles beat Bedford JV 6-0, Marshwood, Maine 2-0 and Alvirne 4-1.

KHS continued its run of stellar play on Dec. 7 with an impressive 3-0 victory over perennial Division II power Merrimack High School at Ham Arena. The Eagles netted goals in each period, while looking in mid-season form.

“I have to admit that result surprised me a bit,” Lane said. “It was a nice win against one of the powers of DII.

Kennett closed the book on its preseason scrimmages with three victories when it hosted the fifth annual preseason jamboree at Ham Arena on Saturday. The Eagles beat Pembroke/Campbell 2-0, topped Laconia-Winnisquam 3-0, and beat arch-rival Kingswood, a Division II team, 3-0.

The tournament, which featured eight teams, attracted more than 400 spectators to a day of hockey.

“It was a great day of high school hockey,” Lane said.

Lane has two of his assistants back on the bench — Justin Frechette working with the defense and Mike Deyak — along with a familiar face, Joe Murphy, who takes over for Todd Frechette and will be working with the forwards.

“I coach with the three best assistant coaches in the state in Justin, Mike and Joe,” he said. “Joe has done a great job working with our forward lines. Things on the bench happen faster than in the stands, but Joe has made a seamless transition to coaching. I’m real excited to have him on board. He was a part of our first state championship team.”

There are 21 players out for the team this winter.

“I’m happy with our numbers,” Lane said. “You always hope that you can have a team that can compete for the state championship. We’re a long way from that. We’ve got a tough schedule. There are no nights off in DIII. We’ve got to continue to work hard and we’ll get better. Now the real season is about to start. We’ll see what people have been hiding. I wish the preseason was a week longer, but I think every coach will tell you that. There are still things we would all like to work on, but we’re in the same boat.”

There are just three seniors on the team in four-year forward Anthony Graziano, three-year player Tanner Brown, who will play forward, and newcomer Leah Canavari, also a forward.

Lane said Graziano has had a “great preseason,” and envisions him being one of the top wings in the division this winter.

Canavari, the lone girl on the squad, has played well in exhibition play, according to Lane. “Leah is a hard worker and a very coachable player.”

Brown and junior Mackenzie Murphy, a defenseman, have been selected to wear the “A” on their sweaters this winter as the team’s two assistant captains.

“I think we’ll get great leadership from Tanner and Kenzie,” Lane said. “The key to being a good leader is not changing your personality of who you are both on and off the ice. I feel very good about both of these guys. They’re extremely team-driven.”

Lane plans to “roll” three forward lines this winter and has the depth to specialize his lines depending on the occasion.

“We have three solid lines that we’ll roll with, plus we’ve got young guys who can alternate in,” he said. “I’ve always believed in three lines. I think we have the potential to run and gun or play lockdown hockey. We can play a number of different styles.”

Junior Caleb McPherson will center a line with Graziano and freshman Chet Johnson flanking him.

“This line is really gelling together,” Lane said. “Caleb and Anthony have struck up a good (scoring) partnership and Chet is adjusting well to playing with them.”

Juniors Colby Couture, at center, with forwards Connor Doucet and Michael Seavey return for the second year in a row together and figure to be regular lamp-lighters this winter. There may not be a faster skater in the division than Doucet.

“I expect big things from this line,” Lane said. “They’re very solid.”

Freshman Trevor LaRusso will center a line accompanied by Brown and sophomore Jeffrey Palmer.

“This is our checking line,” Lane said. “I think they’re starting to gel a little bit.”

Lane envisions fellow forwards Canavari, freshmen Conner Tofflemoyer and Miles Woodbury and junior Shane Gauthier all seeing action depending on the opponent.

Lane smiles when he says he’s “excited” about his defense. The Eagles lost two cagey veterans in the graduation of Nusbaum and Baker, but the flock has stepped up.

Murphy and fellow junior Conner Furtado have looked sharp.

“Kenzie has been dynamite,” Lane said. “Not only has he improved defensively, but he’s become much more of an offensive threat for us. He scored four goals in our jamboree and another one against Merrimack.

“Conner has taken his game to the next level,” he said. “His skating game has really improved along with his stick-handling.”

Sophomore Trevor Olivier, who was the fifth defenseman last year, has also impressed the coaches this winter. Sophomore Cody Bryan, who moved away midway through last season, is back with the team much to the delight of his teammates and the coaching staff.

“Cody is extremely coachable,” Lane said.

Freshman Reilly Murphy has a had a good preseason, according to Lane, and is eager to make is mark with the team.

Kennett has three goalies, including Biggio, a junior, who was super as a sophomore.

“Johnny has been working really hard,” Lane said. “He was probably our hardest worker in the weigh room. He took it upon himself to go to public skating at the Ham in his full pads to work on his crease movement. With him being only a junior, it really bodes well for the program. He’s a fun kid to coach. He’s such a sponge, always asking questions and wantng to get better.”

Also in the goalie ranks are sophomore Cole Gregg and freshman Bobby LeBlanc.

“Both have done well in the scrimmages,” Lane said. “Hopefully they’ll continue to learn and mirror Johnny.”

Hockey Night in Boston had Kennett predicted for a third place finish behind defending champs Berlin-Gorham and runner-up Belmont-Gilford.

“I’m not surprised by that,” Lane said. “They’ve been in the finals each of the last two years. Berlin lost 11 seniors, but still has Owen Dorval and a number of other quality players. Belmont-Gilford lost its entire first line, but has everyone back on the second line and it’s looked really explosive. I think they’re the teams to beat until someone proves otherwise.”

Lane believes the Eagles are capable of contending for a playoff spot and possibly more this winter.

“We don’t need to be the best team in December, but we want to be the best team in February and March,” he said. “The goal first and foremost is to make the playoffs. Only six teams in Division III make the playoffs and we want to secure a spot. After that, we want to try to get a home game or finish in the top two to get a bye. First thing is to get into the dance.”

The Eagles are scheduled to host Hollis-Brookline, which is moving down from Division II, at Ham Ice Arena for a 4 p.m. tilt on Saturday. It will be the team’s third annual Teddy Bear Toss, in which fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears and other stuffed animals and throw them on the ice following the game. Last year the Eagles collected 110 bears that were donated to charity. This year they would like to break the 125 teddy bear mark.