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Ice hockey: ConVal-Conant boys win, girls look promising

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant boys' ice hockey team hosted Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal-Conant girls' ice hockey team hosted Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, December 17, 2018 10:34AM

Sophomore Lorien Wright scored his first varsity goal for the ConVal-Conant boys’ hockey team on Saturday – and it turned into a hat trick. Sure, Wright’s goal was the only one scored in the 1-0 Griffins win over Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes, but the victory was enough to make first-year coach Scott Tracy don his signature cowboy hat.

“I told them I wouldn’t wear it until they started winning,” Tracy said. “Looks like I’ve got to be a man of my word  and I’ve got to wear my cowboy hat going up to Kearsarge on the 19th.” 

Then-assistant coach Tracy and his hat were fixtures on the Griffins bench for the past few years; Tracy said he wears the hat in honor of the late ConVal student and family friend Cole Wohle, who lived for the rodeo and died in 2016 at 18 years old in the midst of a rodeo event. In his first year as head coach, Tracy said he was waiting for the Griffins to win their first game of the year before putting on the hat.

“I’d like to continue that tradition but I need these boys to uphold their end to do so,” Tracy said. “They’ve met the challenge and now we’d like to continue our winning ways.”

Saturday’s affair was a true challenge: a hard-fought, physical contest featuring big hits, chippiness and a near-brawl during a third-period scrum against the boards.

“Hockey is a game of aggression,” Tracy said, “and sometimes tempers flare...I’m happy that my boys didn’t back down, but they didn’t go over the edge.”

The melee resulted in a pair of roughing penalties to each side that did little to defray the tension of a 0-0 game. But about three minutes later at the eight-minute mark, Wright broke the ice. The lithe second-year forward dug in in front of the Moultonborough net and called for the puck. Elias Niemela found Quinn Mose and Mose found Wright, who slammed the puck home and found himself in the midst of another mad mob of Griffins, this time the celebratory type.

“Because of good puck movement and good sustained pressure, we were able to get it to Lorien and Lorien was able to punch that thing home.” Tracy said. “He’s really worked hard, hardworking goal, and the team loved every second of it.”

The Lakers upped the pressure from there, and a double-penalty on Niemela with 3:30 left gave the visitors a power-play for the remainder of the game. But no matter how much they tested Griffin keeper Cole Turner, he wouldn’t budge, turning away all 25 of the shots he faced in the game for his first shutout of the year. After three games, Turner’s save percentage is hovering around 96 percent.

“It’s pretty shabby – we need to get him some more work,” Tracy joked before going on in earnest. “He’s outstanding. You couldn’t ask more of him. He had a couple huge saves on a couple real decent chances. With a few seconds left in the game, he thwarted a really good chance for [Moultonborough].”

ConVal-Conant is now 1-1 on the year and heads up to play Kearsarge-Plymouth (0-1) Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

“Now it’s all about moving forward, starting to build the confidence between the players, understanding how to move that puck and sustain that pressure and get good opportunities to score goals,” Tracy said. “I think things are moving in the right direction.”

Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain 6, ConVal-Conant 0

Chris Spingola’s magic cartwheel number is up to three this season. Last year, he said he’d turn a cartwheel on the ice if the Griffin girls won two games. But with the improvement he sees this year, the number’s been bumped up.

“The biggest thing for us this year is that we have some girls that are returning that really know their positions and they can also help with everybody else to play their positions properly,” Spingola said. “There’s a lot of motivation on the bench, they support each other well. We’re moving toward a greater goal. We’re at that point now where they know what it takes to win, they’ve won a couple games over the past couple years and they can kind of aim and push for that.”

After allowing a goal just 36 seconds into Saturday’s game against the Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain co-op team, the Griffins looked strong against the team that beat them by seven goals last season.

“We were optimistic coming in that we were going to keep it closer, and we did,” Spingola said. As the closest geographic team to ConVal-Conant, Saturday’s opponents were summer teammates of many Griffin players in Greg Crisp’s development league in Keene. The developing friendly rivalry displayed little lost love in Saturday’s physical game. 

“I think I’d hit my friends harder than I’d hit my enemies, so those are the ones you want to  make work,” Spingola said.

ConVal-Conant held Keene scoreless for about 28 minutes after the game-opening goal, thanks in large part to goalie Abby Friend, who’s made nearly 150 saves in two games this season. 

“It’s been difficult but I’ve been managing,” Friend said. “I’ve been trying to save as much as I can.”

Friend is on an island as the last line of defense for the Griffins, but she sees herself as an extension of a cohesive defensive unit that can keep ConVal-Conant in games.

“We were sticking together and doing what we learned in practice,” Friend said of Saturday’s game. “Holding the score as a team is a lot better than holding the score as a goalie, because that means we’ve played the entire game together.”

Spingola has a good mix of returning veterans like senior captains Izabella Leahigh and Ruth Ellis and junior forwards Abby and Haylie Drew, and promising freshmen like Savannah Lee, Cassam Abitz and Tessa Spingola. It all adds up to a team he thinks is much improved this season.

“We’re kind of crossing that hump a little bit to be able to hang with the better teams,” Spingola said.

Penalties and conditioning caught up with the Griffins at the end of the second period and into the third, and Keene’s Maggie Heneghan put together a hat-trick as the visitors came away with a 6-0 win. The Griffins have a solid foundation to build on going into Tuesday’s home game against a strong Lebanon team. Friend said the key to the game will be unification.

“Making sure we stick together and having each other’s backs,” Friend said. “Us staying together as a team will help us for our other games.”