MANCHESTER — Sophomore Quinlan Kerr scored twice to lift the Bedford High School boys’ hockey team to a 4-3 victory over Goffstown and its fourth straight Brian C. Stone Memorial Christmas Hockey Tournament championship Saturday at JFK Coliseum.
Division I Bedford has won each of its four consecutive tournament titles with an unbeaten record. Saturday marked Division II Goffstown’s first-ever appearance in the tournament’s championship game.
Kerr’s second goal, which came with 4:45 remaining in the second period, gave Bedford a 4-1 lead and proved to be the game-winner. The forward also put home a rebound goal through traffic in front of the Goffstown cage with 5:31 left in the first period to break a 1-1 deadlock.
Bedford coach Marty Myers said the tournament provides younger players like Kerr the chance to gain more game experience.
“We played everybody this tournament,” Myers said. “It’s a great opportunity to do that and it gives exposure to kids that normally wouldn’t get the normal exposure that they would get in a normal season game.”
While the Bulldogs did not meet much resistance over their previous three tournament bouts, Goffstown gave them plenty in the title game.
Bedford, which entered Saturday having outscored its tournament competition 16-4, ballooned its lead to 4-1 behind goals from Kerr and Jake Sanclemente in the second period.
The Grizzlies scored twice inside the final two minutes of the middle frame to pull within one. Goffstown senior Sebastian Beal sprung linemate Colby Gamache for the latter’s breakaway goal with 1:39 left and assisted on fellow linemate Griffin Cook’s tally during a two-on-one rush that came with 20.9 seconds remaining before the second intermission.
The Bulldogs outshot Goffstown, 26-23. Neither team took a penalty in the contest.
“I think the boys knew that we weren’t favored,” Grizzlies coach Ben Slocum said. “We came in very relaxed and we played our game from the start….Our boys stayed together and battled back and never stopped.”
Myers has grown accustomed to opponents bringing their A-game when facing his club.
“Other teams are usually in the habit of bringing their best game,” Myers said. “To Goffstown’s credit, I think they came in with a plan. They executed it and they really put us on our heels today.”
Jack Sylvain, who received the Butch Joseph Tournament MVP award from Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig after the game, opened the game’s scoring at the 23-second mark. Goffstown answered 5:05 into the first period, when Beal scored from the slot off a behind-the-net feed from Cook.
Cook had two opportunities to tie the game at 2-2 over the final 1:41 of the opening period but was denied by Bedford sophomore goaltender Ben Benard both times. Benard (20 saves) turned away Cook’s shot during a breakaway and Cook’s wrister from the slot after intercepting a pass in the Bulldogs’ zone.
Goffstown senior netminder Kyle Lasalla made 22 saves.
“It’s always fun to compete and I think that’s what this tournament is,” Myers said. “It’s to identify things that teams need to work on. It’s to play teams that you normally wouldn’t play as often and I think it also blends in the aspect of competing for something, which is the final game (of the season). That’s all we want to be in. We want the opportunity to win and be in the final game.”