Junior B hockey: New England Wolves dispatch Boston Bandits 8-1

LACONIA — The MJHL New England Wolves, the new Junior Hockey team playing out of the Laconia Ice Arena, scored a decisive victory over the Boston Bandits 8-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Laconia Ice Arena.
The Bandits, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, stormed their way through the MJHL a season ago, recording 40+ victories and appearing at the TIER III USA Hockey National Tournament.
Pacing the scoring on Sunday afternoon was the line of Dillon Smith (Madison, N.H.), Domenico Senerchia (Walpole, N.H.) and Ben Davidson (Longueiul, Quebec), with a combined 8 points. In nets stopping 28 of 29 shots was Harley Eliason (Glasgow, Mt.), who made a key glove save midway through the first period when the score was 1-0.
In addition to the on-ice action, all kids entering received free Wolves "Fangs". DJ entertainment was provided by Laconia's Zach Horne.
The MJHL New England Wolves return to action next weekend for two games in two days, as they take to the road on Saturday to play the Northern Cyclones in Hudson, N.H., and return home on Sunday to play division rival, Valley JR Warriors at the Laconia Ice Arena at 2:15 p.m. In addition to their on-ice MJHL competition, the MJHL New England Wolves will be assisting coach Andrew Trimble of Scoring Concepts this week with 3 youth hockey programs skill practices, the Henniker Huskies on Monday night, the Lakes Region Lakers on Tuesday night, and the Rochester Blackhawks on Thursday.
For more information, visit- www.americanhockeyinstitute.com or www.scoringconcepts.com

Junior A hockey: N.H. Fighting Spirit sweep the Stars

The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit came out victorious in their recent home and home series against the Eastern Conference leaders the New England Stars. Friday evening's contest at the Laconia Ice Arena started with a back and forth scoring match as both teams exchanged goals seconds apart. The Stars began the scoring after a costly turnover in the Spirit's defensive zone. Only 35 seconds later Spirit captain Josh Crane took a pass at the blue line and wired the puck to the back of the net to tie the game at 1. Forty seconds later the Stars regained the lead as they were able to sneak the puck past the outstretched leg of Spirit goalie Claes Endre. However the Spirit responded just 20 seconds later, as captain Alex Peddle sped down the left wing around the Stars defense and fired the puck home low blocker side tying the game at 2. The remainder of the first period saw no more scoring as both teams settled in.

The Spirit were able to grab the lead shortly after the start of the second period and add to it just 5 minutes in. David Fish received a pass from teammate Christian Babineau and made no mistake burying it into the back of the net. Just two minutes later Moultonborough native Tim Casey took a feed from the corner and wristed it past the Stars goalie to give the Spirit a 4-2 lead. The Spirit continued to attack and peppered the Stars net with 18 shots in the period. With less than two minutes to go forward Brett Bittner netted a power play goal for the Spirit to increase their lead. Alex Peddle scored his second of three on the night as the puck took a fortunate bounce off a Stars defenseman's skate and into the net before the second period ended giving the Spirit a 6-2 lead.

The third period began with a goalie change for the Stars and the Spirit made sure to give him a rude welcome as they scored 1:24 into the third. Brett Bittner scored his second of the night after a beautiful sequence of passes from his line mates. Midway through the third Alex Peddle rifled home his third goal of the evening after collecting a rebound in the high slot and ripping it home off the crossbar. All told the Spirit put 41 shots on net during the contest and were able to carry the pace and intensity throughout. Spirit goalie Claes Endre was solid in net as he stopped 29 of 31 shots in the contest. The three stars for Friday's contest all came from the Spirit as first star Alex Peddle registered a hat trick and added two assists for a 5 point night. Second star Brett Bittner had 2 goals and 2 assists and third star Josh Crane added a goal and an assist in the 8-2 victory.

The back end of the home and home saw the Spirit travelling to Tyngsboro, Mass. on Saturday to take on the Stars at their home arena. The Spirit jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period. However the Stars were able to take advantage of a few Spirit mistakes and close the gap to 3-2 heading into the third period. Starting the third period on the power play the Spirit were able to extend their lead to two as Alex Peddle beat the Stars goalie low glove side. The Spirit added two more power play goals in the third off the sticks of Travis Blinkhorn and Brett Bittner to take a 6-2 lead. Defensive errors led to two late goals by the Stars and the gap closed to 6-4. Goalie Adam Higdon had a strong effort turning away 20 of 24 shots.

The Fighting Spirit are back in action this Saturday night at the Laconia Ice Arena as they play host to the Maine Wild. Pregame starts at 6:30 p.m. with the puck drop at 6:45 p.m. Saturday evening's game will be sponsored by Crossfit Juggernaut, the official training complex of the Fighting Spirit.

Football round-up: LHS needs a win at Kennett to secure playoff spot

Laconia's four game win-streak came to a halt against Merrimack Valley on Friday night in a 20-17 loss. The Pride scored 20 points in the second half, including the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining. "We had opportunities to make a play late, just couldn't convert," said Laconia coach Craig Kozens. The Sachems had the ball on the Pride two yard line but settled for a field goal after penalties and a strong defensive stand held the Sachems out of the endzone.

Senior quarterback Matt Swormstedt led the offense in the losing effort with 187 yards and a touchdown through the air to go with 135 yards rushing on the evening. Running back Kyle Chiasson was on the receiving end of the TD and Matt Schultz scored the other on a two-yard dive up the middle. Chiasson also converted a 26 yard field goal.

The Sachems will have their work cut out for them to reach the DII post season. "If we win out we will be in. Any scenario other than that get dicey and need help," added Kozens. Winning out will be difficult for Laconia as the team will next head to Conway to take on DII North Conference leader Kennett. The Eagles have not lost a game this season and average 35.5 points a game while holding their opponents to 12.3 points per game.

The 5-1 Golden Eagles rolled over the Lakers on Saturday afternoon 33-7. Gilford running back Max Troiano had 153 yards on 18 carries in the rematch of last year's DIII quarter-finals. Inter-Lakes (3-3) is in the fourth and final playoff spot with a pair of games remaining. The Lakers take on Mascoma Valley (3-3) Saturday in a DII North Conference tilt. Gilford, North Conference leader, should wrap up the one seed with games against 0-6 Newfound and 1-5 Stevens.

Winnisquam bounced back for a shoot out with a 42-14 victory over Epping-Newmarket. Bears running back Christian Serrano had 128 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. the 4-2 Bears are currently in fourth place in the DII South Conference. Winnisquam will host undefeated Bow on Saturday afternoon. A win will keep the Bears in the playoff hunt in the South Conference.

Junior A hockey: Fighting Spirit have strong outing at league showcase, back at home tomorrow night

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit traveled to Morrisville, New York for their first of three league wide showcases this past weekend and returned with 2 wins and 1 loss. Friday afternoon saw the Spirit take on longtime rival, and host of the showcase, The Syracuse Stampede. The Spirit were able to secure a 3-1 win in their first game of three on the weekend. Brett Bittner opened the scoring for the Spirit at 14:48 of the second half. Only four minutes later Nick Pino was able to bury a rebound past the Stampede goaltender for a 2-0 lead midway through the second. With the Stampede in penalty trouble the Fighting Spirit's Josh Crane rifled home a shot from the point for the Spirit's first power play goal of the season and a 3-0 lead. Syracuse was able to sneak one past Spirit goaltender Adam Higdon closing the gap to 3-1, however they were unable to muster up additional scoring chances as the Spirit tightened up defensively and ran out the clock.

The second game of the weekend saw the Fighting Spirit take on the NSHL Runner-up, the Wilkes Barre Miners. After a back and forth affair the Fighting Spirit were able to win 4-3 in overtime. Brett Bittner opened the scoring again for the Spirit at 14:33 of the first. Travis Blinkhorn put the Spirit up 2-0 only four minutes later after a flurry of shots on the Miners goaltender. Wilkes Barre was able to close gap before the first ended by netting a power play goal at the 7:07 mark. The second saw more of the same action registered in the first as both teams had quality scoring chances. Wilkes Barre was able to tie the game with their second goal while shorthanded. With only 5 minutes remaining Wilkes Barre took the lead on a shot from the point beating Spirit goaltender Claes Endre. With only 1:22 left in the game Spirit forward Frederic Pugin took a feed from teammate Mike Callaghan in the slot and tied the game after a net front scramble. Both teams exchanged scoring opportunities in the overtime period but it was Pugin again with 0:28 seconds remaining that sealed the victory for the Spirit.

The final game had the Spirit taking on defending NSHL Playoff Champion the Jersey Shore Wildcats. After two hard fought games the Spirit got off to a slow start in the first giving up two goals before the period ended. With a strong start in the second the Spirit's Mike Callaghan brought the game to within 1 just thirteen seconds in. Exchanging chances throughout, the Wildcats netted their third of the game at the 16:36 mark of the second. With 2:37 left the Spirit cut the lead in half after Mike Heffernan fired one past Wildcats goaltender beating him low glove side. With an empty net the Spirit continued their attack but were unable to tie the game giving Jersey Shore the victory.

The Fighting Spirit are back in action at the Laconia Ice Arena this Friday night. The Spirit will face the current Eastern Conference leaders the New England Stars. A strong start to the Stars season has them in sole possession of first place. 

"We know we are in for a tough game Friday night against the New England Stars, historically they compete very hard against us so we need to be ready to play a full 60 minutes", said associate head coach Ben Tefft. "They are a team that likes to clog the middle of the ice to take away scoring opportunities and work to block every shot thrown at their net. They are a very opportunistic team and will capitalize on our mistakes therefore we need to carry the pace and intensity in all 3 zones of the ice to be able to find success this weekend".

The Spirit will compete in a home and home series against the Stars this weekend with the action kicking off Friday night in Laconia while Saturday's game will be on the road at New England. Game time for Friday night is set for 6 p.m. and is sponsored by the Saratoga Olive Oil Company. There will be door prizes and giveaways throughout the evening. Tickets are on sale at the door $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, students, and children.

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