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Hanover Boys Hockey Wins First NHIAA Title Since 2006

  • The Hanover boys hockey team celebrates their NHIAA Division I championship win over Bedford in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • The Hanover boys hockey team celebrates their NHIAA Division I championship with friends and family in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover defeated Bedford, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • Hanover senior David Lehmann celebrates behind the net after scoring the first goal of the game against Bedford in the NHIAA Division I championship in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • The Hanover boys hockey team celebrates their NHIAA Division I championship win over Bedford in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • The Hanover boys hockey team celebrates their NHIAA Division I championship win over Bedford in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • Hanover senior goaltender Harris LaRock deflects a Bedford shot despite the crash in front of the net in the NHIAA Division I championship in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • Hanover senior David Lehmann celebrates with teammates behind the net after scoring the first goal of the game against Bedford in the NHIAA Division I championship in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • Hanover sophomore Patrick Doherty is denied by Bedford goaltender Conner Laurendeau in the NHIAA Division I championship in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 2-1. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • Hanover team captains Braxton McNulty, left, and David Lehmann are photographed with coach Dick Dodds following their 2-1 NHIAA Division I state championship win over Bedford in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • The Hanover boys hockey team celebrates their NHIAA Division I championship, winning 2-1 over Bedford, in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. (Alan MacRae photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, March 11, 2018

Manchester — Cheers from the Marauder faithful grew louder when John Dodds, the Hanover High girls hockey coach, made his way to center ice to meet his brother, Dick. For the first time in school and NHIAA history, the pair could share a moment celebrating each other’s glory. 

Hanover’s boys hockey team, the No. 2 seed in the NHIAA Division I tournament, got two goals from senior sniper David Lehmann and 24 saves from senior goaltender Harris LaRock to lift the Marauders, 2-1, over No. 4 Bedford in Saturday afternoon’s championship game at SNHU Arena. The victory gave the Marauders their ninth state crown in school history and their first since 2006. 

“It’s amazing; it still hasn’t set in,” said Lehmann. “It’s been the goal for my entire hockey career, ever since I was a Mite watching Hanover High School hockey. I just wanted to win. … It’s amazing. It’s a great way to go out. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

It is also the first time ever that Hanover’s girls and boys hockey programs have won titles in the same season under the NHIAA banner, let alone on the same afternoon. NHIAA girls hockey, of which the Marauders are now nine-time champions following Saturday’s 7-3 win over top-seeded Exeter, was not sanctioned until 2008. The Hanover boys have been to two finals since then, in 2009 and 2011. Both times, the Marauders fell short. 

Until this time around, when the speedy Marauders scored two goals in 52.6 seconds of play — their first with 15.6 seconds remaining in the first period, the other 37 seconds into the second — before closing the game with a stifling defensive effort to defeat the two-time defending champion Bulldogs.

“That was fun,” said Dick Dodds, Hanover’s 36-year head coach. “We hadn’t handled the puck a lot better, more confidently. We forechecked a lot better. We were just crisper everywhere. I think that made a difference for us. We got pucks to the net, just a lot of the little things that make a big difference in games like this.”

Bedford defeated Hanover (19-3-0 league, 22-4-0 overall) twice during the regular season, 4-2 during a December tournament in Manchester and 4-1 at Dartmouth College’s Thompson Arena in January. Both times, Hanover found itself in an early multi-goal deficit, forcing the Marauders to play from behind.

Hanover flipped the script this time, putting Bedford in desperation mode much earlier than expected while not allowing the Bulldogs’ offense to come up for air.

“Momentum,” said Bedford’s longtime head coach, Marty Myers. “The last time we played them at the Christmas tournament, we played them in Hanover, it just seemed like we carried the play and outshot them. This time, they carried the play. They outshot us, and they really did a great job limiting my offense.”

Lehmann scored his first goal off of a rebound of an Owen Stadheim shot at 14:44 of the first period. Stadheim took the initial attempt that Bedford goaltnder Connor Laurendeau saved, but the rebound bounced past linemaate Joseph Goff to Lehmann, who beat Laurendeau to his gove side.

Lehmann located some daylight once again in the first minute of the second period, this time just inside the far left post. Stadheim was credited with another assist to give Hanover a 2-0 lead.

“Joey Goff, he was moved up to our line late in the season,” said Lehmann, whose line with Stadheim and Goff spent much of the game creating havoc for Bedford defenders. “He has a ton of speed, a ton of size. We’ve just been working the cycle all season. And Owen Stadheim’s amazing. There have been so many goals where he’s passed it to me and I’ve had an easy finish. That happened on the second goal.”

Added Myers: “Playing behind by one is tough. Playing behind by two, it’s exhausting. Physically it’s exhausting, and mentally it’s exhausting. … It took us a while to get back into the game. That took something out of us. It’s hard to explain, but it took something out of us.”

Bedford cut the deficit to 2-1 with 12:25 remaining in the third period on a rebound goal by Bulldog junior forward Parker Roberto. But LaRock stayed strong, ferrying safely away any shots Bedford managed to sneak past Hanover’s stingy defense. 

“We started the (third) period on a power play, and we really wanted to get one early, early on,” Myers said. “It eventually came. That felt nice. But still, we didn’t do a great job of getting quality chances. We had chances, we had opportunites, but we didn’t get what we wanted.

“We didn’t execute as well as I wanted to today,” he added. “My hat’s off to Hanover. They beat some good teams to get here, and they played well to get here. That continued throughout today.”

Bedford got desperate in the final few minutes, trying to tie the game before the end of regulation.

“They’re a team of few mistakes,” Myers said. “Good defense, strong defense, smart defense, quick defense, they made it tough on us tonight.”

Hanover’s earlier tournament victims, Londonderry and Bishop Guertin, were teams the Marauders had handled in the regular season. Not so with Bedford, and that made the win that much sweeter.

“No one in that locker room has ever beaten Bedford at hockey,” Lehmann said. “It’s been a while for Hanover. But Coach said it right before the game, ‘This is like any old game. Treat it like one.’ We knew if we played our game, we would win.”

The Marauders graduate Lehmann, LaRock, forward Peter Warhold and star defenseman Braxton McNulty from this year’s squad but should return a strong defensive contingent — Sylas Oberting, Matty Gardner and Duncan Bailey — and the speedy goalscorer Stadheim to next season’s squad. 

The next possible feat for the Dodds brothers? The triple crown — titles in boys hockey, girls hockey and ski jumping in the same winter.

“I kind of felt sorry,” Dodds said. “My other brother (Tom), he coaches the ski (jumping) team and they came in second.”

“It may never happen again, so it’s an honor.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.