As the boys’ team’s senior hockey players said their goodbyes to the Whittemore ice, the job was far from done. The Bobcats ruled the first period, consistently denying entry and shutting down their opponent, Portsmouth-Newmarket, in the neutral zone. This left the challengers to only register about three shots on goal in the first fifteen minutes of the game. A holding penalty against Zach Smith (‘18) had many spectators on the edge of their seats during the penalty kill, but ORHS successfully killed it off and got back to the offensive power they had for most of the period. Although scoreless, Oyster River set the tone for the rest of the game. With solid goaltending from Colin Clark (‘20) on the previously mentioned penalty kill, Gabriel Herz-Khan (‘18) gave some insight on the netminders so far in the season, “I think our goaltending from both goalies is strong, but of course not all pucks can be stopped. In a few games, we have suffered from bad plays on our offense and defense, which have then led to goals scored against us… overall I think our goalies have held us in games which we could have easily lost.”
Heading into the second, Samuel Davies (‘18) was flattened in the slot on a breakaway, which is when many attendees called for a penalty shot. The two referees conversed, and ultimately assigned a two-minute crosscheck and sent the Clippermules’ Will Perry to the box. With around twenty second left of the powerplay, Max Carpenter (‘19) notched the first goal of the game. Will Cilia (‘18) then proceeded to make the score 2-0 with around four minutes left, leaving everyone optimistic about the way this game was headed. At the end of the second, shots were at an astounding 18-6 in ORHS’ favor. Being in the lead with the last fifteen minutes waiting, forward Ethan Keslar (‘18) felt confident with the next period approaching: “It felt really good. We knew that we were playing hard, but at the same time, knew we couldn’t let up. They are a good team and we needed to keep the pressure.”
In the third, Portsmouth-Newmarket started to find their rhythm into the offensive zone, but ORHS’ shut-down defense left little for them to be optimistic about. The Bobcats drew two penalties in the third, but failed to act on the powerplay. Fret not however, Cilia soon scored his second goal of the game: “Scoring two goals was great. I got two great passes from my teammates to set each of them up, and the third goal ended up being crucial for the outcome of the game,” he noted
With the score at 3-0 with 1:32 left in the match, everyone was rooting for goaltender Clark to finish with a shutout, but the Clippermules gave the Bobcats a run for their money after pulling their goaltender. Within 27 seconds of Cilia’s goal, they replied and got themselves on the board.
As many Bobcats frantically tried to nail the empty netter shot from behind the red line, the surplus of icings resulted in plenty of offensive zone time for the opposition. With five seconds left, the Clippermules grabbed another goal.
While some Portsmouth dads were yelling “Tie it! Get the goal!”, many knew that the game was over, and ORHS clutched the W.
Many players gave the credit to their goaltender, Clark, “I think he did amazing.” Keslar stated. “As a senior, I think it was nice to finally be winning a senior game because the past few years, we had not been that lucky on the scoreboard.” With the playoffs arriving soon, the boys know they have plenty of work to do: “Just like any team, we want to win the state championship. I think the league is wide open and any team has a chance to do it. If we play our style of hockey and work as a team, we can go far.” said Cilia.
Though the attention might be on the seniors right now, not to be overlooked are younger players on the team. “At the varsity level, we have mostly upperclassmen, but there are some very important underclassmen as well. On defense, Declan Daubney and Eric Donovan are a great pair of sophomores who rarely let up points against, and Colin Clark in net has come up huge in some games.” stated Cilia.
In addition to saying goodbye to his home ice of four years, Keslar doesn’t think leaving will be easy, “I think it will be a hard time, not because I’m leaving hockey, but because I’m leaving a family. I have played with these kids since I started hockey so it will be weird not having them in my life.”
Though as the reins of leadership slowly get handed off to the team’s juniors, Herz-Khan believes that “they will hold the team together, keep traditions going, and for sure be leaders for the team.”