Memorial squeaks by Green Knights for first win

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Central/West’s George Gatzoulis

MANCHESTER, NH – Both teams came into this contest without a win, but both teams left with one, even if the scoreboard indicated something different.

The Crusaders of Manchester Memorial defeated the Manchester Central/Manchester West cooperative team at JFK Coliseum on Monday, 7-6.

Memorial got out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period, with the first two goals coming early on fast breaks from Eric Langley and Jared Chandonnet.

The Crusaders went into the first intermission with twice as many shots on goal as the Green Knights and their momentum continued as the two teams returned to the ice.

A surprise Central/West goal by George Gatzoulis at 2:16 was the only aberration from Memorial’s early onslaught on the second period. Even that was tempered a flukish goal directly from the face off by Memorial’s Patrick Goren just seconds later.

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Memorial’s Kenny McIntyre looks for a shot.
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Memorial’s Rickie Beaupariant

Goren’s goal chased starting Green Knights goaltender Adam Richardson from the ice, but Goren then got another unexpected goal just five seconds later.

A second goal from Langley gave Memorial a five-goal lead, a margin that would slowly dwindle on the back of continuous penalties.

The Gatzoulis goal came during a 4-on-4 stretch that saw Memorial’s Ray Custodio earn a five-minute major for a vicious crosscheck behind the net to Central/West’s Will Hebert.

Hebert retaliated, missing most of the second period on a game misconduct in addition to a two-minute roughing penalty, and he would add a cross checking minor of his own just seconds after returning to the ice. But by that point, the Crusaders had already sent two more men to the box.

Memorial ended the contest with eight penalties in total, a rarity at the high school level, and the Green Knights capitalized, beginning with power play goals in the second period by Keegan Hoag and Sam Hebert.

The Crusaders would enter the second intermission with a 7-3 advantage thanks to yet another breakaway goal that gave Langley a hat trick, but the momentum had shifted thanks to what Memorial head coach Mark Putney saw as needlessly lazy and sloppy play by his squad.

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Central/West’s George Gatzoulis and Memorial’s Matthew Guzzetta behind the boards.

Slowly, Central/West looked like they might pull off a magnificent upset as the final 15 minutes of the game unfolded.

Will Hebert added Central/West’s third power play goal at 6:38 and Sam Hebert would add a fourth power play goal 10:46 into the period.

With just under three minutes to play, Gatzoulis brought the game back within a goal. But despite bringing on an extra skater with just under two minutes until the final horn, Central/West could not find that final push to even things up.

Even though they lost, Central/West head coach Eric Fischer was proud of his club’s tenacity over the latter half of the contest.

“To come back and put it right to the last minute like that, that speaks to their willingness to keep battling, keep digging,” he said. “The kids want to win so hard right now, they’re looking for their first one. They’re frustrated in many aspects, but we’re building building blocks every step of the way.”

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Central/West’s John McNichols takes a shot.

Fischer disagreed with Putney’s assessment on the physical nature of the game, praising Memorial’s effort and crediting the high penalty tally to teenage aggression and the intra-city rivalry.

Still, Putney was happy with his team’s first win, although he knows that giving up six goals won’t be an option when undefeated Pinkerton comes to town later this week.

“It kind of fell apart their defensively at the end, (but) I’ll take the win,” he said.

All of Memorial’s goals except their third goal, coming from Matthew Guzzetta, were unassisted.

In addition to their two goals each, Gatzoulis and Sam Hebert also ended with two assists a piece, with John McNichols also adding an assist on Will Hebert’s third period goal.

While the Crusaders face off against Pinkerton on Thursday, the Green Knights hit the ice again at 6:10 p.m. on Wednesday to face Nashua North/Souhegan.


About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.