By Tris Wykes

WEST LEBANON – Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal boys ice hockey coach Jim Damren stood alone in a Campion Rink nook after Wednesday’s NHIAA Division III clash with visiting Kearsarge-Plymouth. Asked if he wanted space, the Raiders’ fourth-year bench boss graciously said no.

“I’m just decompressing,” he said. 

Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal goaltender Toby Cromwell fends off attackers after making a save. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“We stopped skating and our sense of urgency was terrible,” Damren said. “I told our guys to not let them back in the game, to not let them believe, and they did exactly what I told them not to. We got outworked and that’s two lackluster efforts in a row.”

LSMR (6-3) lost at Berlin last weekend after a long bus ride and faces another such trek Friday when it plays Kearsarge-Plymouth at Waterville Valley. The Raiders’ schedule has them competing four times without a practice and Damren thinks it’s showing. Teams playing at Campion Rink gather outside the end boards during intermissions, so even those stretches are difficult to use for instruction.

“All these things I see and we talk about, I don’t have an opportunity to address,” Damren said. “We don’t have locker rooms or anyplace we can close a door. Every time the Zamboni is anywhere near, the players can’t hear me.

“There’s nothing that can really simulate talking things over in practice and putting guys in the right position to make it real to them.”

Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal’s Cesar Salcedo celebrates his goal in front of Griffin Auch. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

LSMR’s Cesar Salcedo opened the scoring during the fourth minute, firing a shot along the ice from the right circle to beat Cats freshman goaltender Owen Garzia. The Raiders doubled their lead seven minutes later when Aidan Yates took a Salcedo feed on the rush and blew past a defender high in the offensive zone. The senior popped a shot under the righthanded Garzia’s blocker arm and inside the far post.

The hosts went up, 3-0, a minute into the second period when Andrew Duany parked himself in the low slot and redirected in a Jake Kriplin shot from the right point. Kearsarge-Plymouth made the score 3-1 a minute before the second intermission when Jacob Marcoux shot from the right circle and through Cromwell’s legs. 

The Cats committed a minor penalty with a second remaining in the second period. However, Marcoux scored 1 minute and 30 seconds into the final stanza to pull the visitors within 3-2.

“If we score on the power play to start the third period, the game’s over,” Damren said. “Instead, we give up a shorthanded goal when the kid roofs it over the short-side shoulder.

“Toby had the post but there was about a six-inch window and (Marcoux) picked the spot and it went right along the crossbar and in. We turned the puck over in the defensive zone and then stood around waiting for someone else to do the work.”

Duany was whistled for a dubious tripping foul with five minutes remaining. That created tense moments for the Raiders even before Cromwell performed his late acrobatics to deny Marcoux the hat trick and a tie game.

Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal’s Toby Cromwell denies Kearsarge-Plymouth’s Jacob Marcoux. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“We definitely got away with one,” Damren said “I still think we deserved to win, but it wasn’t a great effort. We got a little too individualistic again and when you stop playing the right way, teams take advantage of it.”

Notes: Kearsarge-Plymouth, which had to be threatened with a forfeit before fully complying with Covid-19 mask protocol during the teams’ Feb. 12 game at Campion, was fully covered this time… LSMR defenseman Liam Ouelette, penalized during the first period, said the referee asked him whether he wanted the foul called hooking or interference as they were en route to the box… What do high school hockey players discuss in the moments before taking the ice? A conversation about the SAT standardized tests broke out among several Raiders as they prepared to step on the rink for pregame warmups… Garzia’s older brother, Gavin, is a junior and the Cats’ other goaltender.

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Kearsarge-Plymouth’s Breckin Bates (16) sends Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal’s Liam Ouelette flying. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.