Manchester blanks Salem

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MANCHESTER, NH — Ryleigh McNelly and Jamie Webster scored two goals each and Chloe Gilroy recorded her first shutout of the season to propel Manchester past Salem, 6-0, Wednesday afternoon at JFK Arena.

Rylee Page added a goal and two assists, as the Queens picked up a critical victory in their quest of securing a berth in the post-season tournament.

Two-thirds of the way through the season, the New Hampshire girls’ hockey standings have settled into three distinct tiers. The top seven teams, led by 11-1 Bishop Guertin,  have at least eight wins each and have all but locked up playoff slots. That leaves three playoff spots up for grabs between six teams in the second tier, each with between four and six wins.

The Queens have won two of their last three games to improve to 5-7-0 and sit tied with Bishop Brady-Trinity-Londonderry for the 10th and final playoff spot.

Manchester’s remaining schedule includes games against Keene-Mon-Fall Mountain (5-8-0), Exeter (8-4-0), Concord (5-6-0), Berlin-Gorham-Kennett (11-3-0), Souhegan (1-10-0) and Bishop Guertin (11-1-0). Realistically, the Queens need three wins in those six games to punch their ticket to the post-season.

“We’ve got Keene this weekend. That’s going to be a good game,” said Manchester Head Coach Cassie Lavigne. “Exeter and Concord are going to be tough. We’ve got BG and Souhegan, so we’ve got three games we potentially could win. We’ve just got to bring our ‘A’ game and everyone’s got to be into it.”

Manchester played with intensity from the opening faceoff against Salem and settled matters early, scoring twice in the first five minutes. Webster and McNelly scored 11 seconds apart with Page setting up both goals.

Later in the period, it was Page finding the back of the net off a feed from Webster, giving Manchester a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.

Manchester’s puck movement was excellent throughout the game. The Queens spread the ice well and looked to make the extra pass needed to get a high percentage scoring chance. Overall, they outshot the Blue Devils 34-17.

As the season heads into the home stretch, the team is playing its best hockey.

“In practices, we’re putting everybody in different positions … making sure everyone knows where to be and where to move the puck,” said Lavigne. “We’re seeing a lot in some of our games on defense, that other teams are moving the puck around well. We’re trying to (improve) and move the puck around to each other.”

Manchester added three more goals in the second period, pushing its lead to 6-0. McNelly scored her second of the game at 6:17, snapping a wrist shot from the circle, over the shoulder of Salem goalie Zeynep Yildrim (28 saves). Just 26 seconds later, Naveah Marineau made it 5-0 with the goal of the game. After getting pushed to the ice from behind, Marineau got back to her skaters, moved into the slot, took a pass from Webster (2 assists) and beat Yildrim to her stick side.

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Webster added her second goal later in the period.

The rest was left in the very capable hands of Gilroy, who finished with 17 saves. She preserved her shutout in the final minutes of the game, making poke-check saves on breakaway bids by Salem’s Keegan Powers and Grace Driscoll.

Gilroy and the Queens were coming off an 11-1 loss to a strong Oyster River team and Lavigne was thrilled with her goalie’s bounce-back game.

“Going from Oyster River to today, she brought her ‘A’ game and she killed it,” said Lavigne.

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About this Author

Bill Gilman

Bill Gilman is a veteran journalist with 35 years of experience covering community news and sports in New England. He and his wife have two grown sons and two perfect granddaughters.

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