A Pair of Aces: Laycock, Chickering N.H. Players of the Year

  • Lebanon-Stevens' Nate Chickering (14) and Dover's Wyatt Allaire congratulate each other on a well-played game in Dover's 5-4 last-minute win in West Lebanon, N.H., on Feb. 14, 2018. Chickering scored the Lebanon-Stevens' fourth goal and Allaire assisted in Dover's winning goal of the game. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover senior Briland Laycock slips the puck past the glove of Exeter goalie Isabelle Day to score in the NHIAA championship in Manchester, N.H., on March 10, 2018. Hanover won, 7-3. (Alan MacRae photograph)

  • Briland Laycock

  • Nate Chickering

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hockey players Nate Chickering and Briland Laycock were both surprised to learn they’d been named their New Hampshire division’s player of the year. In both cases, it was hard to find anyone more deserving.

Laycock, a senior winger for state champion Hanover High, was a unanimous choice during a girls Division I coaches’ meeting in Concord prior to last week’s semifinals, Hanover coach John Dodds said, while Lebanon-Stevens junior forward Chickering passed on the first vote during the boys D-II meeting.

The New Hampshire High School Ice Hockey Coaches Association announced the selections on Monday.

Both players carried their teams offensively throughout the season. Laycock (51 goals, 26 assists, 77 points) tallied at least one point in all 23 games for Hanover (19-3-1), registering multiple points in 21 and exploding for a seven-point game twice.

Meanwhile, Chickering (36-21—57) — the Raiders’ only all-state selection, boys or girls — scored at least three points in 11 of 21 games and finished the season with 122 points, 55 shy of Marc Gattie’s program record heading into next season. Chickering becomes the Raiders’ second consecutive POY award recipient, following Nate Gariepy in 2016-17.

“I worked hard to contribute as much as possible this year, but I didn’t think they’d want to give it to another Lebanon player after Gariepy got it last year,” said Chickering, who learned of the accolade via phone call from his coach, Jim Damren, while on his way back from watching Keene’s win over St. Thomas in Saturday’s NHIAA D-II final. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s quite an honor. I think it sums up my career with Lebanon.”

Chickering’s offensive numbers impress, but he’s equally effective in the defensive zone. Moving from wing to succeed Gariepy at center this year brought with it increased responsibilities. Chickering embraced those demands and flourished while fulfilling them.

“I ask a lot of my centers on defense, and Nate proved that his game is 200 feet long,” said Damren. “He’s a complete player and a highly competitive player. He battles really hard for control of the puck. If it’s on an opponent’s stick, he’s tenacious about getting it.”

Sometimes, Chickering’s defensive work helps set up his own goals, affording him opportunities in the offensive zone after maneuvering to work the puck out.

“I’ll be the last one out of the (defensive) zone a lot of times, so I’m open for (linemates) Ian Garland or Jon Cloud to find me, and they were great about doing that all year,” said Chickering. “I consider this a team award.”

Laycock was also stringent on the defensive end, yet it’s her rocket of a shooting release that improved most considerably this season. Prior to the Marauders’ 5:30 a.m. practices on some school-day mornings, the Williams College-bound right wing would arrive early to hone her stick skills on her own or with Hanover coach John Dodds. Eventually, younger teammates followed her example and occasionally joined her early for the extra ice time and coaching.

“She’d be there when I opened the rink at 5 a.m.,” said Hanover coach John Dodds, whose team captured its ninth straight NHIAA title and 10th in 11 years of sanctioned play with a 7-3 win over Exeter High on Saturday. “She works really hard academically, too, so a lot of that was probably after she was up late finishing her homework.

“(The award) is very deserving,” Dodds added. “She was the unquestioned offensive leader of our hockey team, and the way she’s able to finish is pretty much in a class of her own in this state.”

Laycock worked alongside fellow first-team all-state selection Cate Wagner (22-35—57), a senior classmate with whom her cohesiveness begins off the ice.

“We’re best friends, and I think that helps us a lot,” said Laycock in a phone interview from Rincon, Puerto Rico, where she was performing service work with an animal welfare organization as part of Hanover High’s March Intensive program. “(Wagner) has the best eye on the ice and her intensity is unmatched, so she’s an awesome person to battle with.”

Dodds had experimented with keeping Laycock and Wagner on separate lines, but eventually their spark together was too potent to snuff.

“We thought we might give our lines a little more balance, but those two have a unique synergy,” Dodds said. “It’s noticeable when they’re not out there together.”

While Wagner intends to play soccer at Middlebury College, according to Laycock, Laycock plans to suit up for the women’s hockey team at Williams. That would place her in the competitive crosshairs of her older sister, Eliza Laycock, and Cate’s older sister, Sarah Wagner, who both play for archrival Amherst. Eliza Laycock will be a junior and Sarah Wagner a senior for the Mammoths next season.

“That’s going to be a lot of fun,” Bri Laycock said.

Hanover junior defenders Bryn Kable (first team) and Emma Tysinger (second team) also received all-state honors on Monday. Kable contributed four goals and 14 assists, while Tysinger had seven goals and 16 assists, impressive numbers that don’t sufficiently reflect their contributions, according to Dodds.

“Those two really don’t get enough credit in the scoresheet,” the coach said. “A lot of our goals start with them, including three or four in the state championship game.”

Four members of the D-I state champion Hanover High boys hockey team earned all-state mention. Forward Owen Stadheim (15-22—37), defenseman Braxton McNulty (7-14—21) and goalie Harris LaRock landed on the second team, while forward and team leading scorer David Lehmann (25-19—44) earned honorable mention.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.