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Eagles soar past Bearcats into semifinals

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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

CALEB MCPHERSON battles for the puck in action against Somersworth-Coe-Brown on Saturday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 07, 2018
CONWAY — The Kennett hockey team began its defense of the Division III title with a nice win over Somersworth-Coe-Brown on Saturday, March 3, in the Division III quarterfinals.

"We had a great week of practice, the kids worked hard," coach Mike Lane stated. "We worked on some situational stuff and a bunch of stuff we worked on came out today.

"It was a good team effort," Lane added.

The Eagles wasted very little time getting on the board, as sophomore Reilly Murphy scored on a sniper shot from the circle just 1:05 into the game for the 1-0 lead. Connor Doucet, Trevor LaRusso, Colby Couture and Mackenzie Murphy continued the Kennett attack, while keeper Johnny Biggio turned in a save to keep the Bearcats off the board.

With 9:39 to go in the first period, the Eagles were able to double their lead when Mackenzie Murphy picked up the puck at the center line and raced into the zone, firing it past the Bearcat keeper to make it 2-0, with LaRusso getting the assist on the tally.

Conner Furtado fired a shot off the post and Mike Seavey had a bid denied. Biggio made a couple of good saves for the Eagles and with 40 seconds to go in the period, the Eagles went on the power play, with Mackenzie Murphy sending a shot wide to close out the first period and the Eagles took the 2-0 lead after one.

The Eagles had a power play to start the second period and Doucet got in close on a bid and then 30 seconds in, another Bearcat penalty gave the Eagles a five-on-three advantage for 50 seconds. Doucet and Mackenzie Murphy had chances before the first penalty was killed off. The two teams both received penalties with 13:18 to go that resulted in Kennett getting a four-on-three advantage for 48 seconds and then the Eagles being down a player for a minute after a stretch of four-on-four. Mackenzie Murphy and Seavey both had chances and Biggio turned away a bid before the penalty was killed off.

With 5:39 to go in the period, the Eagles upped the lead to 3-0, as Caleb McPherson broke into the zone and found Miles Woodbury, who buried the puck in the net for Kennett's third goal. Seavey, Doucet and Reilly Murphy continued the offensive attack for the Eagles and the Eagles got a power play in the final minute of the period.

Reilly Murphy, McPherson and Mackenzie Murphy all had chances but with one second to go in the period, Mackenzie Murphy skated into the zone and fired a shot past the keeper on an assist from Seavey for a 4-0 lead after two periods of play.

The Eagles got an early penalty in the third period and McPherson gad a shorthanded bid just miss, while Biggio made a pair of big saves in the Kennett net. Seavey had another chance as well but could not connect.

With 9:31 to go in the game, Doucet got in close and buried the puck for the 5-0 lead. Shortly after, the Eagles took a pair of penalties and had to play down two players for more than a minute and a half. However, Biggio made a few big saves and the Eagles were able to kill the penalty off before the Bearcats could get on the board.

The Eagles got a power play in the final minute and McPherson buried the shot with 33 seconds to go on assists from Couture and Doucet to close out the 6-0 win.

"We were a little sloppy in the second, but that goal at the end of the second was huge," Lane said. "Momentum is everything."

Lane also praised the work of the Bearcats, who defeated Pembroke-Campbell to earn their quarterfinal berth.

"That was the toughest eight seed I've seen here in 11 years," Lane said. "They played hard and they pushed us.

"But it feels good to win," the Eagle coach added.

He also pointed out that killing off the five-on-three at the end was a nice way to close things out, particularly Biggio, who finished with 16 saves in earning the shutout.

The Eagles advanced to the Division III semifinals, where they faced off with Belmont-Gilford after deadline on Wednesday. The finals are at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday at Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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