By Tris Wykes
CONCORD – The Hanover High boys hockey team concluded a long week in jarring fashion Saturday, absorbing an 8-2 loss to Concord High. The defending NHIAA Division I champions beat the Marauders at Everett Arena for the second time in six days, having earlier shut out the visitors, who aren’t allowed to host games at Campion Rink because of Covid-19 concerns.
Hanover had three practices during the week, but all were optional because of final exams. That’s serious business at a school where academic prowess is often pursued every bit as aggressively as athletic rewards. The end of a term means reduced sleep and increased stress.
Concord didn’t lose any players from last year’s title team and picked up a talented transfer, while the Marauders graduated seven seniors and lost two others from their 2019-20 squad. Toss in the absence of injured Hanover standout Jack Stadheim, out another few weeks with a cast on his right hand, and two losses by a combined 12-2 doesn’t look quite so bad.
“We seemed worn down at times,” said Hanover coach Dick Dodds, whose team fell to 0-2. “But it’s fun to play the cream of the crop early. It lets you know what you need to do to get to that level.”
The Marauders looked several levels down. Diminutive goaltender Luke Ives made 28 saves but was often under siege and faced breakaways and odd-man rushes. Hanover’s backup the past two seasons, the junior is now the starter after classmate Ben Plottner quit the day before preseason tryouts began.
Dodds said he doesn’t know where Plottner, whose older brother, Charlie, was the Marauders’ 2018-19 captain, is playing currently but that the netminder “wanted to pursue other options” on the ice.
Concord led, 3-0, after a period, smooth-skating defenseman Ryan Filbrick accounting for all three tallies. The hosts were up, 5-1, after the second stanza and finished with a 36-13 shot advantage.
“It was nice to get a couple of goals, but it wasn’t pretty,” said Dodds, whose squad became the first to score against the 4-0 Crimson Tide. “I like the way Luke battled. He’s a competitor and it showed up tonight, because Concord plays right on the edge. They were in his face all game long but he didn’t let that bother him.
“We’ve got a whole new team from last year and for them to have to play (Concord) in the first two games isn’t easy. I’m proud of them.”
Marauders senior captain Tommy Lyons noted the tables have turned since his sophomore year, when Hanover thumped the Crimson Tide.
“We shut them out twice and it’s become a big rivalry,” said Lyons, pointing out that during a normal season, Hanover would have had two or three preseason games for its young roster to gel. “They’ve got chemistry going, but they’re human and I really think we could beat them in the future.”
Hanover lost its top two returning scorers, senior defenseman Sylas Oberting and junior forward Matty Gardner, to prep school before last season. Oberting’s younger brother, Auggie, went the same route before the current school year began. Stadheim’s older brother, Seth, headed to Kimball Union Academy several years ago, and Dodds fielded a question from a Concord administrator after Saturday’s game about when Jack Stadheim might exit.
It adds up to something of a revolving door for the 40th-year coach, who won his sixth and most recent state title in 2018. Dodds is confident his current club will improve, but it clearly needs to work from the back out.
“We struggled a lot in our own end, both defensively and trying to bring pucks out,” Dodds said. “We weren’t crisp at all and the times we did make good passes, we didn’t receive them well. We had trouble picking up the open man and we were watching pucks because Concord moves it so well.”
Hanover’s goals came from junior forward Jackson Fisher on his first varsity tally, and classmate Casey Graham, who celebrated by vigorously rubbing the ice with a glove palm while gliding on one knee.
Four decades of experience have taught Dodds that coming unglued a few games into the season isn’t constructive. His calm and upbeat mentality carried over to his players, who listened to a rousing, postgame speech by senior Ben Wagner and responded with applause. Hanover is scheduled to next play at Exeter on Jan. 30.
“There’s hope and I don’t think we’re in a bad place,” Dodds said. “We didn’t give up and the kids are ready for practice Monday morning.”
Notes: Wagner, a football standout, said he’s headed to Middlebury College next year, but won’t be competing on the gridiron. “I talked to the coaches, but I would have had to gain about 100 pounds,” he said. His older sister, Cate, is a junior on the Panthers women’s soccer team… Sylas Oberting, whose Twitter page avatar features an action shot of him skating for Hanover High, is now playing for the Northern Cyclones junior hockey organization’s U18 Tier 1 team, posting a goal and two assists in 16 games. His bio lists him as 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds with an SAT score of 1430 and an ACT score of 34. Oberting is the eldest of the five sons of former Dartmouth College star and women’s ice hockey coach Judy Parish Oberting… Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H., hasn’t yet played any boys hockey games, although its online varsity schedule lists a Feb. 5 start and a March 20 conclusion to the regular season. The roster includes Auggie Oberting (given name: Augustus) and former Lebanon High standout Trey Chickering. Former Hanover skater T.J. Beaver graduated from Proctor last year and is now on the roster at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. The Purple Knights aren’t playing this winter… Lyons played his freshman season on the Hanover junior varsity, continuing a long line of varsity contributors who began their high school careers at the lower level… Seth Stadheim is a freshman on the hockey team at Connecticut College, where one of his teammates is former KUA player Kyle Shero. The Camels are not competing this winter… About 40 masked Concord fans were allowed in the arena, but none from Hanover. Signs asked spectators to maintain 6 feet of social distance but the directive was widely ignored.
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