The Oyster River Bobcats (0-1-1) took on the St. Thomas Saints (1-1) in a heated division two rivalry matchup, on Saturday the 15th.
The Bobcats previously played , in a game that ended as a 3-3 draw, on Monday night. St. Thomas, last year’s runners-up, lost to defending champions, Keene, 4-3 on Wednesday. Both teams, apart from the rivalry, wanted a win to begin their season after losing ground on opening night. The heated rivalry culminated into a lopsided game that the Bobcats were on the losing side of. All said and done, St. Thomas won 8-2.
Captain Wyatt Carlson (‘19) explained, “we knew coming in Saint Thomas was going to be one of, if not the best team we play all year. We did drills during practice all this week that prepared us to put into place a game plan the coaches thought would help us win the game.” The Bobcats knew how difficult of a game this would be in coming up against the former second place team. On top of that, St. Thomas Aquinas had brought in three exchange students, including their Swedish goalkeeper, Hannes Demegard, who had 18 saves on the night. Apart from the addition of three new prospects, St. Thomas had 15 of their 19 varsity players return for this season.
The night began fairly evenly, with both teams trading hits and shots. St. Thomas began to pull away in the first period, beginning with multiple clear-cut opportunities. The scoring would begin with four minutes left to play in the 1st, as Mikey Somerset opened his account on a night that would bring him two goals and an assist. Forward Chase Gagnon closed the first period with a close-range goal, putting the Saints 2-0 ahead at the first break. After starting evenly, the Bobcats were placed on the back foot with a two goal deficit, yet two narrow misses from the Saint’s forwards could’ve easily widened that gap.
From the start of the second, St Thomas worked with the momentum they had; while the Bobcat’s pushed for a breakthrough, however the Saints put in four more in the second period, with goals from Will MacLean, Ryan Pottier, Somerset, and Mathis Savard sticking the dominant St. Thomas 6-0 in front.
Another two goals early in the final period put the game to rest. Right winger Paddy Vetter netted twice with 11 and 9 minutes to play, and pushed all hope of a win out of reach for the Bobcats. As the Saint Thomas bench players began to rotate in, Oyster River finally scored. After misses from Shane O’Connell (‘19) and John Kell (‘21), the Bobcats gained some footing and scored twice. Despite being consolation goals for the home team, goals from Alden Swiesz (‘21) and Eric Donovan (‘20) late in the 3rd period gave Oyster River something to take away from the game.
In preparation for the game, the Bobcats worked hard on their transition, as well as their physicality. Head Coach Peter Harwood said, “we worked on our breakout defensive zone, because we knew that they were going to be very a strong fore-checking team. We really tried to stress the fact that we had one chance to get the puck off our end.” He admitted that “[St. Thomas] had just that little bit more talent than we did.”
Tucker Henry (‘19) a fan for Oyster River stated that “[the Goffstown game] looked like it was their first game of the season: there was almost no physicality, and we didn’t take care of the puck as well.” As a spectator, Henry noted that defensively he loved the improvement, as he can enjoy watching the Bobcats check their opponents.
From a league standpoint, Harwood explained that “it’s a little top heavy with Dover, Keene, and St. Thomas being very strong. I think after those three, we fit in and we are in the conversation.” In response to the draw against Goffstown, he explained “we were happy with our tie, as they’re a similar team to us.”
Kell explained after the game that the mentality on the bench stayed the same. “Basically get one [goal] and go from there. Do the little things right, and get momentum coming into the next game on Wednesday.” Apart from the improvements from their first game, the team wants to get more physical and be more of an offensive threat against their future opponents.
The Bobcats now look to bounce back away against Kingswood (1-1) on December 19th. Their next home game is against Spaulding (0-2) on January 6th at the Whittemore.