Nothing still something for Hanover boys hockey

  • Hanover High goaltender Ben Plottner leads the Marauders through the handshake line after making 22 saves against Concord during a scoreless tie at Thompson Arena. The NHIAA Division I teams played twice during a five-day span, Hanover winning the first matchup, 4-0. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Hanover High hockey fans hold a cardboard cutout of co-captain Charlie Plottner's head during a time out Sunday at Thompson Arena. The Marauders and NHIAA Division I rival Concord battled to a scoreless tie. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Hanover High goaltender Ben Plottner watches play up ice Sunday at Thompson Arena. The freshman backstopped the Marauders to a scoreless tie with NHIAA Division I rival Concord, making 22 saves. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Hanover High defenseman Matt Gardner (19) skates away from Concord's Alex Forward during the NHIAA Division I teams' scoreless tie at Thompson Arena. The Marauders 13-5-1 overall and 12-3-1 in division play, have two regular season games remaining. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Concord High goaltender Parker Taylor (29) lies on the Thompson Arena ice Sunday after colliding with Hanover's Charlie Plottner (8). The NHIAA Division I foes skated to a scoreless tie, resulting in a continued logjam atop the standings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Hanover High's Joe Goff (9) and Charlie Plottner (8) combine to upend a Concord opponent Sunday at Thompson Arena. The NHIAA Division I contest resulted in a scoreless tie. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2019

HANOVER — The NHIAA Division I boys hockey playoffs don’t begin for another 10 days, but you would haven’t guessed watching Sunday’s clash between Hanover High and Concord at Thompson Arena.

Skating all out and producing 22 shots apiece, the rivals concluded in a scoreless tie, but one packed with scoring chances and which had fans shouting and groaning throughout.

The Marauders, 13-5-1 overall and 12-3-1 in division play, thought they’d won the game on Joe Goff’s overtime shot toward the unguarded, left side of the goal. However, it slipped just wide of the post and hit the back of the twine.

“We saw the net shake and the bench jumped up, because we thought it had gone in,” said Hanover co-captain Charlie Plottner. “He had a bouncing puck that was tough to control.”

The Crimson Tide missed two open nets itself, amid a plethora of close calls and several goalmouth scrambles.

At one point, Hanover goaltender Ben Plottner looked backwards for the puck, only to eventually find it inside his pants.

“We had a lot of chances, and it got frustrating not to put any in the net,” Plottner said. “But if you look at it the other way, they had just as many chances, so we feel grateful not to have let any in.”

The result leaves Hanover, Concord and Bedford tied for second place in the Division I standings and each with two games remaining. They trail Pinkerton, which is 13-2-0 with three games to go. Those appear to be the four teams likely to receive first-round byes in the upcoming playoffs, although fifth-place Trinity is 10-5-1 with two contests remaining.

Regardless, playoff intensity has already arrived. Hanover coach Dick Dodds, whose team is gunning for back-to-back state titles, said he was especially pleased with the Marauders’ Sunday efforts without the puck.

“That’s seven periods in four days against Concord, which has one of the most prolific offenses in our league, and we didn’t give up a goal,” Dodds said. “It was up and down, and neither side laid back and hoped for a tie. Our group got better today; just playing at that level for that long against a good team helps you so much.”

Leading that charge was Ben Plottner, Charlie’s younger brother and only a freshman. The rookie goalie faced at least half a dozen quality scoring chances but rarely had to make frantic moves about his crease, a sign of strong positioning and poise.

“We figured over the summer that we’d have to deal with growing pains,” Dodds said of going with Plottner and fellow freshman Luke Ives in the net. “But there just haven’t been any. Ben doesn’t get flustered, and he’s very athletic.”

Senior Harris LaRock played every minute in goal for Hanover’s title team last year, but Charlie Plottner said he’s emphasized to Ben to be his own player and not to worry about replacing an all-state player. The younger Plottner has played all but a handful of games.

“I didn’t necessarily doubt his potential, but I felt if he failed, it would be on me,” Charlie Plottner said. “But the guys love him, and he’s stood on his head for us this year. He does what’s expected of him and nothing less, and that’s all we can ask of him.”

Hanover’s best player is defenseman Sylas Oberting, son of former Dartmouth standout Judy Parish Oberting and the oldest of her five boys with husband Kip Oberting. A junior, Sylas Oberting not only skates a regular shift as a defenseman but plays forward on the power play. As a competitor who could clearly prosper in prep school or junior hockey, Oberting may be in his final high school season, and his teammates are enjoying the benefit as long as it lasts.

“He’s our rock, and if you want to give the puck to anyone, it’s to No. 4,” Plottner said. “He’s become such a leader and been great for us all year and he’s going to be huge for us coming down the stretch.”

Said Dodds: “He’s got an engine that just keeps going. He works so hard in practices and games and is in such great shape. We want him on the ice whenever we can get him there.”

Hanover concludes the regular season with a visit to Bedford on Thursday and a trip to Bishop Brady two days later.

Notes: Dartmouth College men’s hockey coach Bob Gaudet, whose two sons played for the Marauders once upon a time, attended the game. … Concord goaltender Parker Taylor, a junior, lugged his gear through the parking lot and toward the bus after the game while wearing an army helmet painted maroon  and emblazoned with his team’s C logo on the sides.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.