Whittemore Center, DURHAM NH – Down 0-2 after the first period, the Bobcats were able to rally to a 5-2 victory over the Clipper-Mules in the Wednesday, December 22nd boys varsity ice hockey game.
Originally part of a four-way tie for the first seed with Saint Thomas and Somersworth-Coe-Brown, tensions were high between the Oyster River and Portsmouth-Newmarket high school teams to establish the title of first place in the NHIAA Division II boys varsity ice hockey standings early in the season. Fans from both schools showed up at the Whittemore Center to cheer on their teams and nearly matched the energy of the athletes on the ice. What was seemingly a game belonging to the Portsmouth-Newmarket team in the first period quickly turned in favor of Oyster River with a five goal response, allowing Oyster River to end the game at 5-2.
The game began with high energy and physicality from both teams and led to a goal by Portsmouth-Newmarket’s Finn Bussiere (‘23) early in the first period. Oyster River responded with many close shots as the tension between the fans and teams began to build.
After a mix up on a power play, the Portsmouth-Newmarket team took advantage of an unmarked shot opportunity, resulting in a goal by Luke Suhesky (‘22). The remainder of the first period consisted of a back-and-forth between the two teams, with no one team dominating the ice.
Entering the second period down two goals, the Oyster River Bobcats stepped onto the ice with high energy and determination. Only four minutes into the period, Oyster River Co-Captain Andy Carlson (‘22) successfully delivered a goal amidst chaos in front of Portsmouth-Newmarket’s net. Assisted by Co-Captain Jack Poitras (‘22) and Cam Miner (‘24), Oyster River’s first goal changed the dynamic of the game.
Jack Caldicott (‘22), Oyster River Co-Captain, said that this first goal “was probably the biggest highlight because it was a big momentum shift. We just started feeling so much better and it made us feel like we were in the game a lot more.”
The team responded to this goal by celebrating directly in front of the Portsmouth-Newmarket fan section. Carlson recalled that this moment “felt really good because we had been extremely close to scoring a few times leading up to that. We finally broke the seal and they had a lot of fans there who were chirping at us throughout the entire game, so it was just a feel-good moment.”
With one minute left of the second period, Carlson secured a second goal resulting from a rebound by the goaltender, tying up the score at 2-2 for the third and final period.
Before the third period face off, Oyster River Superfan Brenden Sheehan (‘22) said that one of the highlights of the game was “seeing the fans get excited during the second period. They were a little quiet in the first period, but they started to come back and now this game is going to be good in the third.”
Despite the high pressure to keep their momentum, Oyster River dominated in the last period. Carlson claimed the last three goals for the Bobcats, scoring the first one only three minutes into the period and assisted by Poitras and Tyler Rinko (‘23). Both unassisted, Carlson scored his fourth goal of the night eight minutes in and secured the final score of 5-2 with one minute left in the third period.
The Oyster River boys varsity ice hockey coach, Peter Harwood, was impressed with his team’s performance. “The kids stepped in and played a decent first period, but certainly it was unfortunate going out 2-0 and it could have gone two ways. The fact that they came back and scored five unanswered goals is a great building spot and builds a lot of confidence for the year.”
Carlson shared the same sentiment that this particular win was significant for the mentality of the team and their season. “Portsmouth is an extremely good team this year and in competition for the championship, so knowing that we can come back from a deficit and take care of business was really good for everyone,” he said.
Resulting from the win against Portsmouth-Newmarket, the Oyster River boys ice hockey team now holds the first seed in the NHIAA Division II boys varsity ice hockey standings with a 3-0-0 statistic, a promising start to their season. Both Harwood and Carlson believe that this victory will contribute to the success of the team in their upcoming games.
“It’s early [in the season] and people are trying to make a statement and see who is at the top initially, so we were very excited for this [win]. I think it gives us the momentum we wanted going into the holiday tournament,” said Harwood.
With their next regular season game on Wednesday, January 5th against Dover High School, the boys varsity ice hockey team looks forward to continuing to improve their skills for this year’s championship. “We’re excited about what we have, we’re just hoping to get a little more consistent,” said Harwood.
For the Oyster River boys varsity hockey team schedule, visit the Oyster River High School Athletics page.
For the Portsmouth-Newmarket boys varsity hockey team schedule, visit the Portsmouth High School Athletics page.