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