Worcester, MA –The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs exploded for four goals in the third period to defeat the Junior Bruins 5-2 and claim a berth in the 2010 EJHL Dineen Cup Championship Game.
The contest started out as a goaltending duel as the teams peppered Kenneth MacLean and Brian Billett with shots with neither goalie giving an inch. Despite several opportunities on each side, the first period ended in a scoreless tie.
Aaron Kesselman found a crack in MacLean 6:12 into the second period. Patrick Doherty won a faceoff in the Bruins zone and sent the puck to Jamie Ferullo. Ferullo then passed to Kesselman, who fired a shot that hit MacLean in the shoulder and bounced behind him to give the Monarchs the lead.
The Bruins tied the game at the 13:37 mark of the second period. Kyle Smith had the puck at the point and flipped a pass to Thane Heller in the circle. Heller spun around while avoiding a defenseman and passed across the slot to Brad Peltz, who knocked the puck home.
Alex Gacek broke the tie midway through the final period when the puck took a wild bounce off the boards after a clearing attempt and landed in Gacek’s reach. The forward corralled the puck and skated in before ripping a shot past MacLean.
Brice O’Connor stretched the lead to 3-1 with 7:24 to play. Patrick Kiley received a pass from George Lotito and sent the puck to O’Connor, who skated around the left circle to the slot and ripped a shot that eluded MacLean.
MacLean skated off with 1:46 to play for an extra skater. With the extra attacker, the Bruins increased pressure on the net, but Billett again turned away every shot. Brice O’Connor gained control of the puck and cleared it out of the zone, and Patrick Doherty skated in and sealed the game with an empty net goal with 38 seconds remaining. Patrick Kiley added another empty-netter from Cody Sharib with 6 seconds to play.
Billett made 36 saves in the win and MacLean turned away 38 shots for the Bruins. The Monarchs face the winner of the semifinal game between the South Shore Kings and Jersey Hitmen at 4:00 PM on Sunday at Holy Cross.
-Mike Klein, 13 March 2010