SALEM – Like many of the school’s sports programs discovered in the fall, the move up to New Hampshire’s Division 1 hasn’t been that difficult for the Windham boys hockey squad. But the Lancers from Londonderry probably already knew it wouldn’t be.
Squaring off for the fourth straight year in the Tuscan Kitchen Blue Devil Classic, the Jaguars knocked off Londonderry for the third time with a 2-1 victory last Wednesday afternoon at the Icenter. Despite having only 17 players on the roster, Windham is now 3-1-1.
“The short roster has sort of played into our favor because we have a lot of guys getting exposure,” head coach Shawn Dunn said. “They’re getting competition they’ve never played before. So, there’s no one sitting on the bench. Everybody’s engaged, and everyone’s rolling out there. It’s been good for us so far.”
With only three seniors on the team, youngsters have been forced to step up, and it was no different against Londonderry (2-2-1) as sophomores Owen Brea and Owen Larouco provided the scoring while junior Michael Montanile and sophomore Charlie Breen contributed assists.
Brea put the Jaguars ahead for good with 12:43 left in the second, converting a nice centering pass from Montanile to cap off a two-on-one break. It took Windham only 2:31 to take a 2-0 lead when Larouco pounded back the rebound off a Breen wrister from the right circle.
“Even though they’re young, they’ve been stepping up,” Dunn said. “It’s been good to see. Owen Brea already has five goals on the young year. And Owen Larouco, this was his first game. We slid him in at center just because we wanted to get another kid up to speed at center with all our systems. He’s a little workhorse and doing really well.”
Windham fought off a five-minute major penalty that began with 4:35 left in the second. During the penalty kill, junior goalie Kyle Westfall turned back six of the 15 total shots he faced.
“He controls the play. He ties up pucks and settles things down for us,” Dunn said of his netminder. “He sees the puck really well and plays it … If he sees it, he stops it.”
But the rest of the special teams helped out the goalie as skaters twice killed off about 20 seconds in the Londonderry zone during the major penalty.
“We’ve had very good penalty kill so far,” Dunn said. “I can roll out any of our forwards, and I trust them out there on the penalty kill. They see the lanes and force the other teams to make mistakes.”
Londonderry scored its lone goal with 10:12 left in the third on a Nick Pitarys breakaway off a two-line pass from Anthony Federico. But the Lancers were unable to capitalize after pulling goalie Jake Holdsworth with 1:14 left. Larouco won a huge face off and a Federico shot went wide with 6 seconds left.
Windham 2, Londonderry 1
Windham (3-1-1): 0 2 0 — 2
Londonderry (2-2-1): 0 0 1 — 1
Tuscan Kitchen Blue Devil Classic
Goals: Londonderry — Nick Pitarys; Windham — Owen Brea, Owen Larouca
Assists: Londonderry — Anthony Federico; Windham — Michael Montanile, Charlie Breen
Saves: Londonderry — Jake Holdsworth 26; Windham — Kyle Westfall 15