Marauders Bump Astros From Undefeated Ranks

Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

West Lebanon — Dick Dodds would have you believe that his Hanover High boys hockey team’s 3-1 win over previously undefeated Pinkerton on Tuesday night at Campion Rink was just another in a long list of victories for the Marauders’ 36-year head coach.

He’s not wrong, of course. But Dodds is famous for dabbling in the art of humility. A victory — his 501st career win — is only part of the story.

Hanover sophomore speedster Owen Stadheim scored twice in the first period — both on second-chance rebounds off of Pinkerton junior goaltender Dakota Robinson — and junior Charlie Plottner netted the insurance goal on a power play in the third period to lift the Marauders (11-1-0) into first place in the NHIAA Division I standings.

The win, Hanover’s fifth straight, came three days after a 5-0 decision over Trinity gave Dodds his 500th.

“He’s so dedicated to the team,” Stadheim said of Hanover’s longtime coach. “He really motivates us to want to do well here. He’s done that for years, and he somehow keeps doing it.”

Puck-moving Hanover defenseman Sylas Oberting provided an assist on each of Stadheim’s goals. Senior goaltender Harris LaRock stopped 19 shots for his 14th win of the season.

“These are the kinds of games that bring your team together and raise the individual skill level of each of our players on the team,” Dodds said of the matchup between the top two teams in NHIAA Division I. “These games are special.”

Dodds has the Marauders once again playing exceptionally well this winter campaign, and it showed in the first period against Pinkerton (10-1-0). Hanover outshot the Astros, 19-1, in the first period, riding a suffocating forecheck that caused plenty of havoc at the edge of Pinkerton’s defensive zone.

“They were great; they played a really good game,” second-year Pinkerton head coach Sam Littlefield said. “They’re always coached well, and we know they’re always going to be tough competition. We didn’t come out with the energy we needed. We had some bus legs, I think.”

Stadheim broke through with his first of the night 6 minutes, 30 seconds into the first period, finding a rebound from a point shot from Oberting and slipping it past Robinson. The sophomore did it again a little less than six minutes later, this time off a point shot from David Lehmann, to give Hanover a 2-0 lead headed into the first intermission.

“I tried to give us a good start,” said Stadheim, who put together his second consecutive two-goal game and admitted he has a knack for playing clean-up in front of opposing nets. “I try to get around the net and see what comes loose. … I try to use my speed to get around defenders. That’s pretty much how you start an offense, and it’s harder to get hit that way.

“Last year, we had a lot of individual skill,” the sophomore added. “This year, we’re really playing as a team and playing for each other.”

Stadheim, who is second on the team with 12 goals, is coming on late in the season following a nagging back injury that had followed him from soccer season. He said he’s better now, leaving Dodds with a better impression of the speedy youngster’s complete skill set.

“He’s got a different gear. He really does,” Dodds said. “His speed, his skill. He just makes some fantastic plays with the puck. And his speed is just so valuable, whether you’re on offense or defense. You notice him.”

Plottner’s insurance goal late in the third period was a display of trickery to secure the win. The junior forward — alone behind Pinkerton’s net on the power play — snuck around, found some daylight and squeezed the puck short side on Robinson for his eighth goal of the season.

Hanover is a perfect 6-0 when Plottner finds the scoresheet. It has also outscored opponents 19-2 in the current win streak.

“I was really pleased with our effort, our energy,” Dodds said. “I think we had an attitude that we’ve had for a couple of weeks here. It’s really impressive.

“It was disappointing to lose (4-1 to Bedford on Jan. 14,” he added. “I think we took what we could out of it. We stepped back and looked. I think we got better because of it.”

The Marauders (14-2 overall) haven’t lost since.

“This just propels us for the rest of the season,” Stadheim said. “Now we know we can beat everybody. … We were pretty pumped. Playing for first place, it’s what everybody dreams about.”

Stadheim said Dodds’ commitment to the program makes him a coach athletes want to play for. That, and his humility, are perhaps part of the secret.

“He’s been an awesome guy for Hanover; we’re lucky to have him here. He’s very humble about it.”

The Marauders travel to Manchester Central (1-9-0) on Saturday.

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