Hanover’s Defense Gets Offensive as Marauders Reach Final

  • Bishop Guertin's Jared Zeichick can only lament Hanover's first period goal celebrated by scorer David Lehmann (5) and fellow Marauder Owen Stadheim (11) during the Division I semifinal in Manchester, N.H., on March 8, 2018. Hanover won, 3-2. (Nashua Telegraph - Tom King)

  • Bishop Guertin's Ben Young tries to maneuver away from Hanover's Matty Gardner (19) and Elias Zinman during the Division I semifinal in Manchester, N.H., on March 8, 2018. Hanover won, 3-2. (Nashua Telegraph - Tom King)

  • Bishop Guertin goalie Colin Freitas looks for the puck helped by teammate Jared Zeichick while Hanover's Owen Stadheim works in front during the Division I semifinal in Manchester, N.H., on March 8, 2018. Hanover won, 3-2. (Nashua Telegraph - Tom King)

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 3/9/2018 1:56:00 AM

Manchester — On a hockey team that throws the bulk of defensive minutes on the shoulders of three teammates, Hanover High’s Duncan Bailey has simple orders as the fourth guy in the rotation. Give the regulars a rest when needed. Hit anything that moves. Get in the way of shots and passes.

Anything beyond that is a bonus.

The junior blueliner zipped a right-point wrist shot off the crossbar and into the Bishop Guertin net midway through the second, reversing the momentum of the contest and sending the second-ranked Marauders to 3-2 defeat of No. 6 Bishop Guertin on Thursday night in an NHIAA Division I boys hockey semifinal at JFK Coliseum.

Senior David Lehmann followed Bailey’s second goal of the year with his second goal of the night about two minutes later, after which Hanover survived some hairy moments to make its first D-I final since 2011.

Bailey gets the first call when regular D-men Braxton McNulty, Matty Gardner and Sylas Oberting need a break. On Thursday, Bailey provided a break of a much different sort.

“I guess I’d say I’m like a backup, y’know?” Bailey said afterward. “If Braxton, Matty or Sy get tired, I go out there, throw some big hits out there and get off (the ice). In this game, Matty got hurt and I had to step up.”

McNulty also took a knock midway through the contest, all of which meant more important ice time for Bailey. It fit into the game plan for Hanover (18-3-0 league, 21-4-0 overall), which sought to shut down speedy Ben Petterson, BG’s 25-goal scorer, and his mates by employing a defense-centered strategy.

Petterson was never a factor, although the Cardinals (11-6-1, 12-8-1) drew within a goal on a Liam Nye wrist shot with 8:55 to play. Hanover goalie Harris LaRock was a rock from there, making two key stops on a late BG power play to cap a 31-save game.

“Harris LaRock just doesn’t get enough credit around the league,” Hanover coach Dick Dodds said. “He was immense tonight, just as he’s been so many times this year.”

Quick hands gave Hanover a 1-0 lead by intermission of a first period BG controlled.

Lehmann capitalized on his own centering pass to get the Marauders on the board at 2:30. Taking a feed behind the net from linemate Owen Stadheim, Lehmann looked for Joey Goff in front of Guertin goalie Colin Frietas (15 saves), but Goff never found the puck. Lehmann did and snapped it past Freitas for the advantage.

The Cardinals spent most of the period dictating the pace and direction of play. Hanover’s best tool came in blocking shots: McNulty slid to his belly to intercept a Max Trawick blast seven minutes in, and the Marauders — and sometimes the Cards themselves — frequently got in the way of shots headed toward LaRock.

Dodds also started his checking line of Rowan Wilson, Charlie Plottner and Peter Warhold against Petterson and linemates Ryan Flynn and Doug Barker, continuing the matchup every chance he could.

“We were going for a defensive game to shut them down, and I think we did that perfectly,” Lehmann said. “We wanted to shut down Petterson and (Flynn), and we did that.”

Guertin kept the Marauders on their heels early in the middle stanza as well, having to kill the last 23 seconds of an Elias Zinman penalty at the outset and losing McNulty to a leg injury on another penalty. A shorthanded breakaway goal from Barker brought BG level at 8:31, the winger taking Flynn’s what-the-heck clearance and beating LaRock at the left post.

The game-changer came from Bailey, the unlikely scoring source. Wilson won a faceoff to Freitas’ left and dropped the puck back to Bailey, whose long-distance wrister eluded everything but the twine at 10:09.

“Second goal of the season, which is always nice,” Bailey pointed out. “Especially in the semis.”

Lehmann made it 3-1 on the Marauders’ next shot. With the Cards’ Trawick sitting out a slashing minor, Lehmann one-timed — sort of — a cross-crease Stadheim feed at 12:28, his team-best 23rd goal of the campaign.

“Early in the power play, we like to go cross-ice on them, because they tend not to cover that,” Lehmann said. “Early on, Owen just saw me open. I kind of whiffed on it, but it still slid in.”

LaRock made 10 stops in the third, the biggest ones coming after Nye squeezed a shot through his arm at 6:05. Hanover took two penalties in the final five-plus minutes; LaRock’s defense denied a shot on goal during the first, and the senior netminder got his body behind two Barker bombs on the second.

“It’s been a while,” Lehmann said of Hanover’s imminent title-game visit. “BG has kicked us out a few times in the past few years, so it was great to beat them. We’re all super excited. No one on this team has been there before, so hopefully we’ll pull through.”

Ice Chips: The NHIAA shuffled Saturday’s championship day schedule on Thursday after snow forced postponements of the Division II and III semifinals. The Marauders’ Division I title game with Bedford, a 3-1 winner over No. 1 Concord on Thursday, will now be at 12:15 p.m., with D-III at 2:45 p.m. and D-II at 5 p.m. All contests will be at Manchester’s SNHU Arena. Hanover and Exeter open the quadrupleheader with the D-I girls final at 10 a.m. … The neutral zone isn’t JFK’s only narrow feature. Both benches have three tiers of seats rather than the one long row that most rinks possess. The ice surface measures 85 feet in width and 185 feet in length, 15 feet shorter than a standard NHL rink. … Folks arriving at JFK were greeted by a parking lot filled with dozens of plowed-in automobiles. … Bailey is also a USA Hockey-certified youth hockey referee.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.

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