Bulldogs headed to state championship
Boston — They did it. The Old Rochester/Fairhaven hockey team is going to the Division 3 State Championship at TD Garden.
“I’m just ecstatic for the players,” head coach Eric Labonte said. “That’s what they’ve worked hard for all year and boy oh boy, that wasn’t easy. That was a tough game right there.”
The Bulldogs came away with a 5-1 win against Lowell, but the game was much closer than the score would indicate.
Old Rochester/Fairhaven scored first, not quite halfway through the first period, when Landon Goguen found the back of the net. The team then had to kill off two Lowell power plays, but made it to the end of the period still up 1-0.
Just 25 seconds into the second period the Bulldogs struck again. This time it was Noah Strawn, who went on to complete a hat trick in the third period.
However, shortly after going up 2-0, Old Rochester/Fairhaven took a penalty and Lowell managed to score on the ensuing power play. Lowell almost tied it when the Bulldogs took another penalty, but the goal was waved off.
After killing the remaining power play time, the Bulldogs had multiple point-blank chances but couldn’t find a way to score and ended the period up 2-1.
The Bulldogs, who were short on bodies due to injury, looked sluggish by the end of the second period, but were able to find a way to preserve their lead and punch their ticket to the championship.
“Some of the parents cut up a bunch of oranges, so those guys were eating away between the second and third periods,” Labonte said.
Strawn, however, credited much of the team’s newfound energy in the third period to his coach and captain.
“We came back in the locker room and [Labonte] gave a great speech and really got us going,” he said. “Sam Henrie, our captain, really got us going too. He’s a great leader on and off the ice.”
The Bulldogs failed to capitalize on two power plays early on, and the score remained 2-1 for much of the third period. However, with five minutes left Strawn scored again and opened up the floodgates.
Henrie scored shortly after that and with 14.6 seconds left Strawn completed his hat trick to end the game 5-1.
Despite the win, Labonte acknowledged that the team had a little bit of a tough time in the first two periods, and gave a lot of credit to goalie Chase Cunningham.
“The biggest problem was we were trying to outhit them and we’re a skating team…Big hit after big hit exhausts you. And it’s not necessary. We just had to out skate them,” Labonte said. “It wasn’t pretty in the second period…Chase was actually tremendous…He was positionally sound and pucks hit him.”
The team will play Shrewsbury on Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston at 1 p.m.
“It’s awesome. I can’t even describe it,” Henrie said. “The crowd started chanting 'TD Garden' and I couldn’t stop smiling.”