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Boys Hockey

Senior night win propels ConVal to playoffs

Isaiah Taylor’s natural hat trick, Leger’s two goals send Cougars to first postseason berth in nine years

  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.
  • The ConVal boys hockey team earned a trip to the playoffs Wednesday night.

It’s been nine years since the ConVal boys hockey team last earned a postseason berth. ConVal’s nine seniors put an end to that streak last Wednesday as they knocked off Manchester West to clinch a playoff spot in their last game of the season.

“The team’s goal was to make the playoffs,” said head coach Mark Leger after the playoff clinching victory. “We knew that was a lofty goal coming off of a 1-17 season. It’s a long season, you have to find ways to keep the players motivated late in the season.”

That motivation was evident from the first drop of the puck, as junior Isaiah Taylor netted the game’s first goal with 13:31 remaining in the first period, courtesy of an assist from senior Carl Svensson. The lead would be short lived, as Manchester West answered just four minutes later with their first goal to even the score.

With 4:07 to play in the first period, the Taylor-Svensson duo scored again, returning the advantage to ConVal. But again, Manchester West responded quickly, taking less than a minute to score a goal of their own and tie the game at two.

Taylor was not done leading the offensive attack for ConVal, and he netted his third goal of the contest just a minute later, earning himself a natural hat-trick, with assists courtesy of juniors Ryan Thibault and Erik Leger. The hat-trick was the first of Taylor’s career.

Manchester West continued their knack for tying the game, quickly, scoring once more with just 1:47 to play in the first period.

The wild first period wasn’t done yet. ConVal’s Leger joined the Cougar scoring barrage, scoring his first goal of the game with 29 seconds remaining in the first period off an assist from Thibault. This goal gave ConVal a 4-3 advantage heading into the second period.

There was only one goal scored during the game’s second period as Leger struck again, this time netting a short handed goal courtesy of an assist by Travis Burke, making the score at the end of the second period 5-3 in favor of ConVal.

The Cougars carried the momentum of a dominant second period with them into the third, scoring two more goals to Manchester Wests’ zero. Sophomore Cameron Henke recorded his first high school goal with an assist by Leger, and Thibault finished off the Cougars stellar night of offense with an unassisted goal, making the final score 7-3.

The victory secured the Cougars a playoff berth, cementing their overall record at 4-12-1. After losing 7-0 to Portsmouth this weekend, the team’s record sits at 4-13-1 heading in the playoffs.

Four year team member Andrew French reflected on the team’s success following the game.

“We lost the core of our team [last year] and expected it to be a building year,” French said. “Making the playoffs is exciting. It’s the first time for me.”

Travis Burke, the only other four-year senior member of the team praised his coach’s methods as well as his teammates. “Coach kept it light all season, made sure we had fun,” Burke said. “We were all nervous heading into this game, but we calmed down after the first period. I’m proud of everyone.”

Coach Leger attributed his team’s success to the players’ willingness to try new things in order to help the team. “The second time we faced teams, it was a night and day difference,” said Leger.

“We focused on each individual player and what they could do best. Then we were able to exploit those strengths,” explained Leger.

As far as playoff expectations, Leger sees no reason to stray from what has been working for the Cougars all season long. “We are looking to frustrate the No. 1 seed, give them a game. Anything can be done with the right attitude.”

The Cougars will begin the Division III playoff tournament by traveling to top seeded Berlin on Wednesday, game time 6 p.m. Berlin finished the season with a record of 16-2 with both losses coming against Souhegan, the second seed. They beat ConVal 9-2 back on Jan. 25. It will be a tall order for ConVal, but as they’ve already shown throughout the course of the season, they can achieve even the loftiest of goals.

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