MANCHESTER — The third time proved to be the charm for Bow – twice.
Making their third championship game appearance in four years, the Falcons knocked off undefeated Keene, 4-2, in the season’s third meeting Saturday afternoon at SNHU Arena in Manchester for the program’s second state title.
No. 1 Keene, which swept the regular-season meetings between the teams (3-0 and 5-3), finished 18-1-0, one win shy of perfection and the program’s first-ever title.
The easy observation would be to say Keene seemed off its game from the jump. The accurate assessment would be to add that Bow had plenty to do with the Blackbirds being out of sorts on the way to collecting the program’s second State crown. The other came in 2010.
“We didn’t have very many turnovers or give up a lot of odd-man rushes. We moved our forecheck up in the defensive zone and didn’t get beat on the cross-ice pass,” explained Bow coach Tim Walsh. “We came out strong and scored the game’s first three goals. It’s a lot different than playing from behind.
“We’ve been here four of the last eight years and lost the last two times. We’ve been working hard all season long and the kids bought in to what we’ve asked them to do.” Walsh added. “We knew we could play with them and that all the pressure was on them. We were pretty confident.”
While acknowledging Keene’s unfamiliarity with playing from behind, assistant coach Chris McIntosh praised Bow.
“I’m proud of the way our guys battled back, but hats off to Bow. They have good players and they’re well-coached,” he said.
Bow’s standout senior Doug Champagne gave his club a 1-0 lead with 3:26 left in the first period, jamming the rebound of Chris Mead’s initial shot past the left skate of Keene keeper Myles Ditkoff. It took the referees awhile to rule a good goal but it stood. Bow killed three Keene power plays in the period.
Bow’s little ball of energy Ryan Tobeler made it 2-0 at 1:27 of the second period. Leading an odd-man rush along the left wing, he glanced right, thereby creating enough space to pick the top short side corner over Ditkoff’s blocker. The Falcons’ active sticks and ability to keep Keene to the perimeter bottled up the Blackbirds.
It also left Keene in an unfamiliar position – trailing for the first time entering the third period after outscoring opponents by 100 goals in the regular season.
“We expect to be playing with the lead, and it changes our approach a little bit,” said McIntosh. “It was not our best night. It was a great opportunity and we were excited to be here, but we didn’t get done what we wanted to get done.”
When Champagne’s second of the game, assisted by freshman Austin Scarinza, gave Bow a 3-0 lead at 1:45 of the third period, there was a sense it was over.
Keene, though, mounted one big push. Tim Greenwood got them on the board with 8:49 to play. When Gaetano DeLonge’s turnaround shot from the high slot deflected off a Bow defender’s stick and sailed over the left shoulder of goalie Nathan Carrier (23 saves) it was a one-goal game with 4:48 to play. Keene lost scoring leader Jason Langevin to an apparent shoulder injury midway through the period.
“I think I got more worked up than our (players) did. They kept making smart plays, working the puck deep in the zone and winning battles for loose pucks. This is a veteran team with strong kids,” said Walsh.
Scarinza restored a two-goal cushion and ended any suspense by burying a rebound with 2:29 to play.
(at SNHU Arena)
Bow 4, Keene 2
Bow 1-1-2 — 4
Keene 0-0-2 — 4
FIRST — 1. B, Doug Champagne (Chris Mead) 11:44.
SECOND — 2. B, Ryan Tobeler (unassisted) 1:27.
THIRD — 3. B, Champagne (Austin Scarinza) 1:45; 4. K, Tim Greenwood (Nate Darwin) 6:11; 5. K, Gaetano DeLonge (unassisted) 10:12; 6. B, Scarinza (Colin Tracy), pp, 12:31.
SAVES: B, by Nathan Carrier, 23; K, by Myles Ditkoff, 21.
Written by Kevin Doyle, HNIB Senior Writer/HockeyClan Contributor