By Tris Wykes
WEST LEBANON – Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal hockey player Andrew Duany and a Monadnock-Fall Mountain opponent somehow snagged their metal facemasks on each other early in Wednesday’s NHIAA Division III contest at Campion Rink. The entanglement had to be undone by a referee and was about as close as the Huskies came to the Raiders during a 6-0 victory that boosted the hosts to 3-2 this season.
Griffin Auch scored twice, one of the goals coming on a power play, and added an assist. Duany and Will McGee each had a goal and an assist and Aidan Yates and Cesar Salcedo also tallied. Jake Kriplin had two assists and Luke Greene had one.
LSMR led, 1-0, after a period and 4-0 at the second intermission. Monadnock-Fall Mountain received strong goaltending from Cam Olivio but fell to 1-4.
“Once it got to four goals, it was pretty much over,” said Raiders coach Jim Damren, whose team hosts Kearsarge-Plymouth tonight in the Cougars’ season opener. “It gave us an opportunity to play some guys who usually don’t get in, but by doing that, you mix lines and jumble (defensive) pairs so you’re not as in sync.”
That made for a sloppy third period and the Huskies’ struggles allowed LSMR’s offensive standouts to dipsy-doodle all game long. Auch and Yates make defenders miss on a regular basis, and that means Damren has to walk a fine line on when he insists they pass.
“We need to use the speed and skill that we have… but we tend to overhandle the puck, tend to carry it a bit more than I would like,” the coach said. “There are games you can get away with that, but there are others where it bites you. These kids are so happy to be playing games that when they get the puck on their sticks, it’s hard to get them to move it.”
On the other end of the stylistic spectrum is Stevens High freshman Tyler “Tank” Christian, who’s built like his namesake vehicle but who’s displayed surprising agility and speed, enhanced by all-out hustle and improvement.
“He’s always pushing the pace and he’s doing a good job, especially for a freshmen,” Damren said of the third-line skater.
Another newcomer to regular ice time, though not to the team, is junior defenseman Liam Ouelette, a tall, rangy Mount Royal Academy student who missed his entire freshman season and much of his sophomore campaign because of a hip ailment.
Ouelette’s a good athlete but he’s played so little in recent years and not on defense since youth hockey, that his blue line instincts aren’t yet developed and his execution is raw. Still, there’s promise, especially if he can be coaxed into a more physical style that would bely his good nature.
“He’s got good speed and he’s got a really long reach,” Damren said of the second of three brothers to play on the team. “The game is a little quick to him right now, but he’ll settle in. He’s getting a chance to get some more meaningful minutes and I’m pleasantly surprised with how well he’s transitioned.”
Notes: Damren said his team is one of the “nicest groups of kids we’ve ever had. They’re almost all polite to a fault. I remind them to thank their parents and our bus drivers, but I really don’t have to.”.. The coach said his favorite hockey tradition doesn’t even occur on the ice. It happens when Lebanon seniors participate in graduation with a skate lace draped on the shoulder of their gowns… The Huskies had skaters wearing numbers 1 and 35, which are usually donned by goaltenders… LSMR was once again good at staying out of the penalty box, making only two trips. One of them was a hit from behind by McGee that earned a 5-minute major… The visitors dressed 14 players and the hosts 20… Yates competed with two slightly-blackened eyes he said he suffered while playing on an outdoor rink. The senior said he plans to return to junior hockey next season, after graduating from Lebanon High. Yates played juniors in Maine last winter.
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