Time seems to freeze as players from Belmont-Gilford and Berlin-Gorham watch the possible game-tying shot ricochet of the far goal post with just seconds remaining in the game. Berlin-Gorham hung on to win 2-1 and win the Division III hockey championship. (Harry Kozlowski photo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
By HARRY KOZLOWSKI
Special to The Laconia Daily Sun
MANCHESTER — Football is sometimes called a game of inches. The same description can apply to hockey.
The NHIAA Division III boys' hockey final ended in chaos when the Belmont-Gilford Bulldogs thought they scored the tying goal in the final seconds of their game against Berlin-Gorham at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester Saturday afternoon. Instead they lost the game 2-1.
"I don't mind losing, but losing like this? That's a hard one to swallow," said Bulldog head coach Jay Londer to reporters after the game. "We'll be dreaming about that or having nightmares about that till next year, when we're here again."
Belmont-Gilford was trailing 2-1 but had a two-man advantage thanks to a pair of Mountaineer penalties. Plus the Bulldogs pulled their goalie for an extra skater for a six-on-three advantage with 25 seconds left in regulation.
With just seconds remaining, Dylan Treamer fired a shot that struck the far post of the Berlin-Gorham goal. The puck then bounced along the goal line. Some Bulldog players raised their arms believing they scored. Their fans and the players and coaches on the bench thought so too.
But the puck hadn't gone in just yet. It was still dancing along the red line. The Bulldogs' Ethan Baker got behind the scrum in the goal crease and had the entire net open to tap in the puck but it bounced over his stick.
What happens after is unclear because a mass of bodies in white and blue jerseys converged in the crease, knocking the net off its moorings as the buzzer went off.
So did they score? According the officials on ice, no.
One official was in proper position behind the net and emphatically waved his arms indicating 'no goal' during the melee. And as far as the NHIAA is concerned his opinion is the only one that matters.
While Berlin-Gorham players celebrated, players from Belmont-Gilford looked at each other in confusion. Head coach Jay Londer ran across the ice toward the scorer's table pointing up arena's video screen above the ice, asking officials to review what just happened.
The game's three officials huddled together to confer and apparently agreed no goal was scored and the Mountaineers were the victors. Londer's plea for an NHL-style review fell on deaf ears.
"I asked them, I said can we go to the video for that?" said Londer. "I asked the ref and they don't want to hear it. I tried to ask them to look but they don't want to look at it."
That's because, according to an NHIAA official at the arena, there is no rule allowing for video review of scoring plays. So even if video showed a goal being scored before time expired, the official's call is the only one that matters.
"Not to take anything away from Berlin ... They deserve to be champions, absolutely," said Londer. "But I believe we got hosed on that call and that's my opinion."
When asked if he saw the replay, Londer said from what he saw, "It looked good to me. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, but who knows?"
Londer acknowledged he wasn't sure if the NHIAA rules allowed for video replay but thought it ought to.
"I'm not sure. I don't know why we're playing in this arena – we have the technology, let's utilize it and get it right," said Londer. "Maybe next year it will be different."
The Bulldogs scored first when Caleb Drouin shot from the slot at 3:24 of the second period. Christian Karagianis and Dylan Treamer assisted on the goal.
Berlin-Gorham tied the game with 5:35 left in the second period when Noah Schoenbeck's shot trickled through the pads of Bulldog goalie Bailey Defosie.
In the third, Trevor Lebreque of the Mountaineers scored the game-winner at the 7:28 mark. The loss spoiled Bemont-Gilford's bid to repeat as Division III champions.
Caleb Drouin raises his arms in celebration after his goal at the 3:24 mark of the second period put Belmont-Gilford up 1-0 in the Division III hockey championship. (Harry Kozlowski photo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Drouin named Player of Year
Senior forward Caleb Drouin of the Belmont-Gilford cooperative hockey team was named the Division III Player of the Year by the NHIAA on Saunday. Drouin was also named first team All-State.
Other B-G players receiving honors include senior Dylan Treamer who was named second team All-State. Freshman defenseman Alex Muthersbaug and sophomore forward Hunter Dupuis receved honorable mention.
Junior forward Mike Dalzell of Moultonborough-Inter Lakes was named second team All-State and teammate senior defenseman Gus Kromer received honorable mention. Senior goalie Richie Caron of Kearsarge-Plymouth also received honorable mention.