Junior hockey: Fighting Spirit still unbeaten in Laconia

The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit have successfully defended their home arena with a weekend sweep of the Cape Cod Islanders. With both teams jockeying for the top spot in the East it was the Fighting Spirit who prevailed.

Saturday night saw the Spirit get off to a red hot start as they were able to score 3 goals in the first ten minutes of the period. Cape Cod would eventually score in the second period bringing the score to 3-1 and that's where it would stay. Goaltender Claes Endre was solid in net as he turned away 32 of the 33 shots he faced. Josh Bowman of the Spirit earned the first star of the game with a goal and an assist while Endre was named second star for his performance in net.

Sunday's contest proved to be a much tighter affair as the Spirit were able to score late in the third and claim the 2-1 victory. Andrew Gass got the Spirit on the board first with his first tally of the season as he buried a pass from teammate Nick Pino on the power play. Adam Higdon was great in net as he turned away 35 of the 36 shots he faced during the game. The Islanders were able to tie the score with 8 minutes to play as they were able to net one on the power play. The Spirit responded quickly and regained the lead as forward Mike Heffernan potted the game winner after firing home a rebound. Netting the game winner solidified Heffernan's spot as the game's first star while Higdon's performance in net earned him the second star nomination.

The Fighting Spirit take to the road this weekend participating in the second of three league wide showcases. This weekend's event will take place in Nashua, N.H. and will pit the Fighting Spirit against the Syracuse Stampede, Wilkes Barre Miners, and the current league leaders the Jersey Shore Wildcats.

Golden Eagles head into playoffs with regular season record of 7-1

The Gilford Golden Eagles football team wrapped up the regular season with an overall record of 7-1, good for second place in the North Conference, with a 47-20 victory over the Stevens Cardinals on Friday night. 

Junior Carter Mercer had the best game of his high school career, throwing for 416 yards and 5 TD and completing 19 of 31 passes. Teammate Kyle Gaudet had 10 catches for 325 yards and 3 TDs, including a 90 yard catch in the second quarter and a 76 yd TD catch in the third, to go along with eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

After Gilford's first drive stalled inside the 10 yard line, Senior Tommy Hart came up with a fumble recover on Stevens next series at the 25 yard line. Gilford would not waste their second opportunity, scoring on the sixth play of the drive. The key play for Gilford was on a third and 15 from the 30 yard line, Carter was flushed out of the pocket and threw to Gaudet who made an acrobatic one handed catch, spinning and falling backwards to the ground. Two plays later, Mercer hit Max Troiano on a slant route for a 6 yard touchdown. Stevens would answer back with a score of their own but the extra point was blocked by junior Shane Podmore, allowing Gilford to hold onto a one point lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Golden Eagles opened up the second quarter with a 90 yard TD strike from Mercer to Gaudet and capped it off with a 5 yard td pass from Mercer to Troiano. A scary moment for Gilford came on the ensuing kickoff, when senior Zach Poisson injured his left shoulder while making a tackle on the Stevens one yard line. Poisson missed the second half but is expected to make a full recovery and be available by the second round of the playoffs.

After the Golden Eagles scored on a Troiano 6 yard run on their first possession of the second half, Stevens answered with a 69 yard pass and a successful 2 point conversion to pull to within 14 at 28-14. But Gilford's special teams looked to have an answer. Taking the kickoff at their own four yard line, Troiano broke four tackles and was hitting the open field when a referee's inadvertent whistle stopped the play cold at the 24 yard line. Not letting the officials slow them down, Mercer once again hit Gaudet, this time for a 76 yard TD reception on their first play. The Cardinals once again answered with a drive of their own that resulted in their final TD. Gilford answered with a seven play 46 yard drive, capped off by a 3 yard pass to Gaudet.

Gilford went to a ball control offense once again, in the fourth quarter, and strung along two drives that ate up nearly nine minutes of clock, before senior Dave Macdonald closed out the scoring with a 1 yard TD plunge. Carter Mercer went over 1,500 passing yards on the season, to go along with 20 TD passes. Max Troiano had 1,768 all purpose yards on the season with 19 TDs and Kyle Gaudet finished with 874 yards receiving, 14 TDs, 5 PATs and 3 two-point conversions. Zach Poisson and senior Bech Stecker led the team with 6 sacks each, while junior Shane Podmore led all linemen with 29 tackles.

Gilford will host Inter-Lakes at The Meadows in Gilford, in the first round of Div III playoffs with kick-off slated to be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov 8.

Playoff round-up: LHS football knocked out by Kearsarge, Gilford and Inter-Lakes to face off

Laconia's football playoff hopes were dashed Friday night when Kearsarge ousted the Sachems 33-30. A win would have sent the team to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. The game took a familiar path as Laconia held a lead in the fourth quarter but could not hold their opponent out of the endzone. Laconia, up 22-19, gave up a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to relinquish the lead and the game.

Senior Matt Swormstedt led the offense with 295 yards passing and 58 on the ground. Swormstedt went 35 for 52 with three TDs and a pair interceptions. Kyle Chiasson, Andre McNeil, and Keith Schultz were the recipients of the TD passes.

Laconia finished the season 4-4, falling to fifth place in the DII North Conference standings.

Gilford soared past Stevens Friday night 47-20. Gilford's high flying offense was led by QB Carter Mercer who went 18-28 for 411 yards and five touchdowns and an interception. Kyle Gaudet caught 10 of Mercer's passes for 324 yards and three scores.

The Golden Eagles (7-1) will host Inter-Lakes (5-3) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the DIII playoffs. Gilford fell to the Lakers in the playoffs last season. The regular season matchup went to Gilford 33-7.

Winnisquam failed to get past Bishop Brady, losing 60-40 and falling to 4-4 which will not qualify the Bears for the post season.

Field hockey

A pair of underdogs entered the DIII semi-finals in field hockey on Thursday night at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. The 11th seed Sachems and the 12th seed Golden Eagles took on the second seed Berlin and the top seed Hopkinton. The Sachems won their last three regular season games and a pair of playoff games to reach the semis.

Laconia had a 1-0 lead at the half before Berlin took over and scored three unanswered goals in the second half to lift the Mountaineers to a 3-1 victory and a spot in the DIII finals. Laconia's goal was scored by senior forward Samantha Silva. Sachems goalie May Margaret Randall had 14 saves in the loss.

Hopkinton needed over time to get past the Gilford who also jumped out to a lead early over the top seed Hopkinton in the second semi-final. Gilford's Logan Baxter scored the lone goal for the Golden Eagles. Hopkinton tied things halfway into the second half and forced overtime. The Hawks scored the game winner off a penalty corner three and a half minutes into the overtime.

Berlin beat Hopkinton 3-0 in the DIII finals on Sunday to remain the DIII champions.


Inter-Lakes fell to top seed and defending champion Nute 3-0 in the DIII quarter-finals. The Lakers were led by sophomore libero Ella Flanders who recorded 14 digs against Nute's big hitters in an impressive defensive performance. Jordan Durand registered eight digs and three aces in a solid all-around match for the freshman playing in her second tournament game.

Winnisquam's (7) hopes to return to the finals were dashed in the first round when they were upset by Epping (10) 3-2.

Belmont (13) fell to Sunapee (4) 3-0 in first round action.

Laconia (11) couldn't get past Portsmouth in the first round of DII play. Portsmouth were ousted in the quarter-final round by Gilford. The Golden Eagles (3) will face Milford in the semi-finals at Pinkerton Academy on Thursday at 5 p.m.


In soccer action the undefeated two seed Prospect Mountain Timberwolves took on the three seed Gilford Golden Eagles yesterday in DIII semi-final action. The Golden Eagles had a first round bye before beating Berlin in the second round 4-0 and White Mountains 2-1 to in the quarter-finals. The Timberwolves also had a free pass in the first round before dismissing Kearsarge 3-0 in the second round and Belmont 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

Inter-Lakes (8) beat Stevens in the second round before falling to the one seed Hopkinton in the quarter-finals.

Laconia (20) fell to Campbell in the first round 2-1.

On the girls' side of the pitch Gilford fell to Campbell 2-1, Inter-Lakes fell to White Mountains 2-1. and Belmont fell to Somersworth 1-0. All the macthups were in the first round.

Junior A hockey: Fighting Spirit are unbeaten on Laconia ice

The Fighting Spirit are primed for another weekend battle against the Cape Cod Islanders. Both games will be played at the Laconia Ice Arena, which is welcomed by the Spirit as they are unbeaten at home. The Spirit have recently claimed the top spot in the NA3EHL Eastern Conference and look to solidify their hold this weekend. “Both teams are coming in having won their last 4 games; we know that Cape Cod is a physical team that plays fast. We need to match their intensity and outwork them in all areas on the ice”, says Spirit captain Travis Blinkhorn. “We have to play a disciplined game and stay out of the penalty box because we know they have a very potent power play”. 

Saturday evening's contest will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is sponsored by the New Hampshire Humane Society. Sunday afternoon’s game will start at 1:45 p.m. and is hosted by Burrito Me. Both games will offer fast paced hockey action as well as door prizes for the fans. Tickets will be on sale in the Laconia Ice Arena lobby.