Hanover Handles Lancers to Reach Semis

  • Hanover's Elias Zinman.

Valley News Sports Editor
Saturday, March 03, 2018

West Lebanon — David Lehmann fired a laser. Cameron Woods took a knee. Elias Zinman won a race.

The Hanover High boys hockey team did everything it could, and sometimes creatively so, to get two-goal leads on Londonderry in Saturday’s NHIAA Division I quarterfinal at Campion Rink. The second-seeded Marauders never could get comfortable with their multiple advantages, not with the seventh-ranked Lancers pegging back twice, but neither did Hanover let up in an eventual 5-2 victory.

The Marauders (16-3-0 league, 19-4-0 overall) never trailed after putting two shot past Londonderry netminder Cameron Donovan in the opening 15 minutes. But neither could the hosts go in cruise control, not with the Lancers playing Hanover evenly for much of the evening.

Braxton McNulty’s bank-shot empty-netter finally settled matters with 17.2 seconds left. George Michael belted Freedom over the loudspeakers, and the Marauders headed off to the locker room to celebrate.

“A two-goal lead, it is the worst lead in hockey, but at that point we’re just thinking defense first,” said Zinman, who finished with two goals and an assist for Hanover. “We’re just trying to close the game out, pop one more and just put the game away.”

It’s to the Marauders’ credit that Londonderry’s comeback tendencies never became an issue. Getting a last-minute goal before the second intermission didn’t hurt.

“We couldn’t get the extender, but you have to give Londonderry credit,” Hanover coach Dick Dodds admitted. “They came out in that second period, were really working hard, forechecking us and forcing turnovers, and I think that helped them get back in the game in the second period. Scoring that goal late in that period really helped that momentum and settled us down in the third period, where we could get back to the type of game we wanted to play.”

Although relatively even in terms of shots and territory, Hanover owned a 2-0 lead after one period and a 3-1 cushion through two.

An early tripping penalty on Londonderry’s Zachary Rheault set up the Marauders’ opener, an ice-level Zinman redirection of a David Lehmann point wrister on the power play at 6:51. Hanover’s next shot on goal doubled its lead, as Lehmann took a cross-ice Owen Stadheim pass and used a Londonderry defender as a screen to solve Donovan high at 10:07.

Cruise control? Never, and certainly not when the Lancers’ Patrick McKinnon squeezed a shot through Hanover goalie Harris LaRock (22 saves) just 54 seconds into the second stanza to halve the Marauders’ advantage.

“When you get within one, that’s a good adrenaline push,” Londonderry coach Peter Bedford said.

The Lancers (9-9-1) could have tied the game a couple of times in the middle frame. LaRock got a glove on Anthony Federico’s open left-circle bid three minutes after McKinnon’s marker. Hanover later killed off a Sylas Oberting interference minor, and LaRock got a glove on a McKinnon attempt two minutes from the break.

The Marauders made it an intermission to contemplate when Woods jammed home a Zinman pass 54.1 ticks before the horn to regain the two-goal cushion. Falling to his knees at the edge of the Londonderry crease, Woods managed to stuff a Zinman pass beyond the left leg of Donovan (29 saves) as the goalie slid away from the right post.

“I’m just proud of the way the kids reacted,” Dodds said. “I think we just wanted to continue to play the way we had been playing. We didn’t want to change anything. Even in the last period, we wanted to keep pressing and pressing and pressing.”

Londonderry’s Patrick Murphy zipped a 20-foot writer over LaRock’s shoulder at 6:05 of the third to cause a bit of murmuring among the Campion throng. Hanover responded when Patrick Daley won a chase to the puck to feed Zinman for a bang-bang conversion at the right post at 10:54, the Marauders’ last two-goal lead of the evening. Londonderry didn’t close this time, not after Donovan left the net for an extra attacker and definitely not after McNulty banked a clearance from his own end off the right-wing boards and into the empty Lancer net in the closing seconds.

“Our defensive coach is always talking about going off the glass,” McNulty said. “I was just going to whip it off the glass; I just got a good bounce. I didn’t think it was going to go, but I just saw it rolling, watched it curl, it went in and the rest is history.”

Freedom, indeed.

Ice Chips: Hanover played the bulk of the night with a three-defenseman rotation of McNulty, Oberting and Matty Gardner , inserting Duncan Bailey or Sam Seelig for the occasional rest. McNulty said it’s been a regular strategy this season: “The thing I’m impressed with is when they come out there, they really bring it. Duncan’s a physical force, and Sam’s a great skater. When they got the shifts today, they were really good at keeping the game in control.” … McNulty, Lehmann and fellow senior Peter Warhold played the final Campion home games of their careers … If the Marauders love Campion Rink, they like Manchester’s JFK Coliseum as a second home. Hanover will play a Wednesday semifinal there, having gone 5-1-0 in six previous visits this winter. “It’s our home away from home; we’ve had a lot of experience playing on that ice,” Zinman said. “We’ve always been pretty successful there.” … Hanover will meet either Pinkerton or Bishop Guertin in a 5:30 p.m. semifinal on Wednesday. The Marauders are looking for their first state championship game visit since 2011 and their first state title since 2006.

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