Hanover boys hockey seeking solutions

Hanover's Mateo Trimble moves past Bow's Will Raisty and Massimo Palelli during their game on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Trimble had two assists in Hanover's 5-2 loss. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hanover's Mateo Trimble moves past Bow's Will Raisty and Massimo Palelli during their game on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Trimble had two assists in Hanover's 5-2 loss. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Tucker Garrity-Hanchett, who is the facility manager at Campion Rink and the Hanover girls hockey assistant coach, makes a puck sculpture before the start of the boys hockey game against Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2.
 (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Tucker Garrity-Hanchett, who is the facility manager at Campion Rink and the Hanover girls hockey assistant coach, makes a puck sculpture before the start of the boys hockey game against Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Hanover boys hockey coach Dick Dodds talks to his players during a timeout in the third period of their game with Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2.  (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hanover boys hockey coach Dick Dodds talks to his players during a timeout in the third period of their game with Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hanover boys hockey manager Jai Gregory keeps track of stats during Hanover's game with Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hanover boys hockey manager Jai Gregory keeps track of stats during Hanover's game with Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

Hanover captains Jack Wilkinson, left, and Wyatt Seelig celebrate Seelig's goal during their game with Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hanover captains Jack Wilkinson, left, and Wyatt Seelig celebrate Seelig's goal during their game with Bow on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, in West Lebanon, N.H. Bow won, 5-2. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 12-22-2023 11:47 AM

WEST LEBANON — The 94th season of Hanover High boys hockey hasn’t begun as hoped.

The Bears lost to visiting Bow, 5-2, on Wednesday at Campion Rink, after dominating the NHIAA Division I game’s first 30 minutes and taking a 1-0 lead into the third period. The Bears then beat a path to the penalty box, and the Falcons made them pay.

“It was a terrific start for us, the best I’ve seen us play in four or five years,” said 43rd-year Hanover coach Dick Dodds, whose team received a first-period goal from Jack Wilkinson and a third-period tally from Wyatt Seelig.

“We were physical, getting on pucks quick and taking a lot of shots, and we totally dominated. Then the game shifted.”

Now 0-3-0, Hanover next plays three games in as many days beginning on Tuesday against an always-strong field in Manchester’s eight-team tournament. The Bears were 1-2 in the event last season and finished the campaign 9-13-0, exiting in the playoffs’ first round.

Avoiding penalties, taking not just numerous but quality shots and steadying a jittery defensive corps top the Bears’ wish list this holiday season. A team loaded with good but not great players doesn’t have a sniper like diminutive but dynamic Bow forward Owen Webber, who’s a threat to score or assist every time he touches the puck.

The Falcon junior blew around a backskating Henry Cotter in the right circle and stuffed a shot into the pads of Hanover goaltender JoJo Drent five minutes into the third period. Teammate Luke Hartshorn potted the rebound for a 1-1 tie.

Tempers began to flare with three minutes later after Cotter was penalized for dropping a Falcon with an elbow to the head. On the next shift, Bow’s Patrick Jurcins absorbed an unpenalized hit behind his net and skated off in obvious pain.

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The public-address system blared Ozzy Ozbourne’s “Iron Man.” Tensions simmered.

Hanover’s Seelig lost a draw in the Bow zone and the puck zipped back to Drent, who dropped down to cover it. Skating directly at him was teammate Wilkinson, with Billy Smethurst on his hip. Video clearly showed Smethurst running Wilkinson over from behind and one of their sticks striking Drent in the neck.

The fallen pair wound up in the right corner and a multi-player fracas unfolded. Hanover’s Andrew Rudd and Bow’s Luke Virta were each assessed two minor penalties and 10-minute misconducts, angering the Bears, who felt they should no longer be a man down.

The hosts’ two best defensemen, Rudd and Cotter, were now confined to the sin bin.

“The skirmish at the end, they started it all with a very dangerous play,” said Dodds, admitting that his younger self might have erupted at the referees and earned an ejection.

“It didn’t have to happen. It just wasn’t right.”

Interviewed after the game and without the benefit of viewing the video replay, Bow coach Tim Walsh was under the impression that Smethurst’s stick was lifted from behind by Wilkinson, who simultaneously pushed the Falcon into Drent.

“It was two teams playing hard and teenaged boys doing what they do when they get upset,” Walsh said. “I wasn’t happy with (Virta) for getting involved afterwards, but I thought all the calls were an overreaction.”

Bow struck for the go-ahead goal with 5 minutes, 11 seconds remaining and still on the power play. Webber snapped a shot from the blue line’s midpoint and past Drent, who had Bow’s Brodie O’Neil parked in front of him.

Hanover’s Ronan Przydzielski was penalized for elbowing with 3:37 on the clock, and the DJ spun the song “Highway to the Danger Zone” as Hanover used its timeout.

Seelig lost the subsequent face-off to Drent’s right and although the netminder stopped an immediate shot from the point, Bow’s O’Neil was unguarded at the right post and flipped the rebound into an empty net eight seconds into the power play for a 3-1 lead.

Seelig scored next, off Mateo Trimble’s second assist, to pull Hanover within 3-2. However, the Falcons added two goals in the last minute, one into an empty net and the other on a bull-like rush through the left circle by Webber that further exposed Hanover’s shaky back line.

“We have to play with a lot more discipline,” Dodds said. “We took the only two penalties of the second period and that hurt our momentum when we were really in charge. It gave (Bow) a little bit of hope and it was confusing to our bench, figuring out who was up next.”

The Bears, who have only four seniors, hit the post twice Tuesday and took 28 shots overall, although Falcon goaltender Kian O’Leary had to make only 14 saves. Too many of the Bears’ cracks at the cage were easily anticipated and clearly visible to the visiting backstop.

“We’re a little bit snakebit right now,” Dodds said. “It’s not going our way.”

Notes: Because Rudd committed five penalties in one contest, he is by rule subject to missing Hanover’s next game. Such situations can be appealed, however. … Hanover is 51-48-2 during the last five-plus seasons, and its most recent state title came in 2018. … Campion Rink features a new lobby and locker rooms. Further fundraising is required to replace the boards and glass and the ancient ice-making system. Temperatures were in the 30s Wednesday, and a distinct wet patch was visible behind one net throughout the game.  … Hanover’s hockey roster includes 12 soccer players and six of those are goalkeepers on the pitch, said futbol coach Rob Grabill, who attended the game.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.