Junior hockey: New England Wolves in hot pursuit of 1st place

LACONIA — The MJHL New England Wolves, after taking 3 out of a possible 4 points last weekend, took to the ice of the Champions Arena in Cromwell, Connecticut and inched closer to 1st place with a shootout win over the Central Penn Panthers at the MJHL Thanksgiving Showcase.
The win over the Panthers was a total team effort that featured outstanding performances by two players in particular. Dillon Smith (Madison, N.H.) recorded his second hat trick of the season in regulation, and followed that up with the only goal recorded in the shootout. His 4 tallies were the difference as the Wolves pulled out the 4-3 victory. Backstopping the hometown Wolves was Milford, N.J. native Zach Skop. In stopping 35 shots, Skop helped temporarily move the Wolves into 2nd place in the division, although having played two less games than 1st place Vermont, and one less game than the Northern Cyclones.
The Wolves will play a pair of home games versus the Walpole Express at the Laconia Ice Arena this Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (2:15 p.m.). Broadway North Dance Studio's "Wolves Dancers" will provide entertainment on Saturday night between the 2nd and 3rd period. In addition, Santa will be making his rounds in the Laconia Ice Arena lobby during Saturday's game posing for pictures. All kids under 12 enter for free. Rink staff will provide a laser light show during player introductions.
Congrats to Wolves Goaltender Harley Eliason (Glasgow, Mont.) as he was awarded Honorable Mention by the MJHL for his performance during the weekend of Nov. 22.
For more information, visit- www.americanhockeyinstitute.com or www.scoringconcepts.com .

Gilford High School to be well-represented on All-State Football Team

Five members of the Gilford High School football team have been named to the NHIAA's Division III All-State teams.

Golden Eagles named to the First Team are: defensive lineman Sean Mulcahy, wide receiver Kyle Gaudet, linebacker Jackson Spooner, and kick/punt returner Max Troiano.

Named to the Second Team were quarterback Carter Mercer and, this time as a running back, Max Troiano.

Gilford's Zack Poison, a defensive lineman, received an honorable mention.

Junior hockey: Fighting Spirit head west for a pair of games

The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit, fresh off Thanksgiving break, are back in action this weekend as they travel to Rochester, N.Y. to take on the Roc City Royals of the Western Conference. This will be the first set of complete games against a Western Conference opponent this season as other games against the West came in the first and second of three league-wide showcases. The Roc City Royals currently sit in 4th place in the West with a record of 7-13-1. While their record may not show, it the Royals are a gritty, hard-nosed hockey team that have been playing especially tough as of late.

"Coming off break we have been working incredibly hard to prepare for the games this weekend. The Royals play a very aggressive, in your face style of game and compete for 60 whole minutes" says Spirit captain Alex Peddle. "We need to match intensity and play our style of hockey to find success this weekend. We will need to stay out of the penalty box and maintain our composure as we know they will be in our face all weekend."

The Fighting Spirit have been looking to improve their special teams play as of late, they currently rank 3rd in penalty kill and 6th in power play amongst the NA3EHL teams. "We have been happy with our progression on our penalty kill, we found a solid group of players that have settled into that role for us. We know the more opportunity they get to perform the better our penalty kill will be as they get comfortable with our system", says Spirit coach Ben Tefft. "Our power play on the other hand is something we have been tinkering with the past few weeks trying to get more scoring opportunities out of it. We have changed some personnel and looked at different formations to try and increase our scoring on the man advantage. As long as we move our feet and make good decisions with the puck we think we can get the PP jump started."

The Fighting Spirit will round out the first half of the season next weekend with a home and home series against the New England Stars who currently sit just 3 points behind the Spirit in the standings. Friday evening's contest will be on the road as the Stars host the Spirit. Saturday night's "Christmas Game" which is sponsored by Proforma Piper Printing is set for 6:30 pregame at the Laconia Ice Arena. The Spirit would like to inform all fans that anyone in attendance showing Christmas Spirit in the form of an ugly Christmas sweater or any Christmas regalia will receive $1 off their admission. Additionally the Spirit have invited Santa to stop by for pictures and candy giveaways for all children in attendance.

For more information on the Spirit and their schedule please visit their website at www.fightingspirithockey.com

Junior hockey: Fighting Spirit heads into Thanksgiving on a high note

The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit knew they had a task at hand before they would enjoy a small break in the season. The task: win three games against the last place East Coast Minutemen and head into break feeling good about their efforts thus far. Mission accomplished, the Fighting Spirit were able to wrap up their three game set with the East Coast Minutemen in impressive fashion as they once again dominated their way to a 16-0 victory. 15 of the 18 players for the Fighting Spirit were able to record at least one point while defensemen Travis Blinkhorn, Ryan Dunfield, and forward Tim Casey led the charge. Tim Casey was able to net a hat trick for the Spirit leading the way in the goals department while Blinkhorn and Dunfield carried the load in the assist department as they each contributed 4. Spirit goalie Adam Higdon was perfect in net stopping all 11 shots he faced. This is Higdon's second shutout of the season as he was able to record one earlier in the year against the long time Spirit rival, the Syracuse Stampede. "We knew we were in for a tough challenge. The timing of this three game set could have played a part in whether or not we grabbed 6 points. Heading into a break in your season you always have to remind the players to stay focused and not check out too early. Our guys did a great job of maintaining their compete level and doing the things necessary to win hockey games", says Spirit coach Ben Tefft. "We ended this particular part of our season on a high note and will look to continue the progress we have accomplished so far. We know it is a long season and we will continue to push our players to constantly progress and get better as the season moves forward."

The Spirit will enjoy the comforts of home as they have a week long break for the Thanksgiving holiday. When they return it will be back to work as usual as they prepare for a big road trip to Rochester, N.Y. to take on the Roc City Royals. The Fighting Spirit would like to wish their sponsors, fans, and everyone in the Lakes Region a safe and happy Thanksgiving. For more information on the Spirit please visit their website www.fightingspirithockey.com