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NHIAA boys' hockey: Keene demolishes Somersworth/Coe-Brown

Posted by Scott Sartorio on Jan 07 2020 at 06:11AM PST
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Joseph Walsh leads the way with four goals and an assist.

KEENE — Injuries have plagued Keene to begin the season. Most notably the losses of two top-scoring forwards, Brian Langevin, a senior, and Zach Mooers, a junior, have forced Blackbirds coach Chris McIntosh to reconstruct his lines.

On Saturday, it was assumed that Keene would be facing perhaps its stiffest challenge of the early season, squaring off against NHIAA Division II counterpart Somersworth-Coe-Brown inside Keene Ice. It was anything but. Behind four goals from senior forward Joseph Walsh, the Blackbirds made it look easy, demolishing the Bearcats 8-0.

Keene improves to 2-0-1. Somersworth drops to 2-1-1.

“We are doing some things in practice this year that are different compared to years past,” said McIntosh. “We have been focusing on a lot of skill stuff and putting our kids in smaller spaces so that we can try to create opportunities off of that. That’s what they did today.”

As Keene continues its farewell to Division II tour — the Blackbirds move up to Division I next season — there is a hope of leaving the division on a positive note with a deep postseason run. Two years removed from a state championship, the Blackbirds undoubtedly will continue to lean on each other to remain strong inside a difficult division.

“I think knowing some guys are out just makes us play harder,” Walsh said. “We all know that we all need to step up and some of the younger kids on this team have started to step up. We know that we can easily roll three lines without any problems.”

That certainly was evident against the Bearcats. Keene, early and often, played up-tempo and owned the offensive crease. Scoring four times in the opening period, the Blackbirds chased starting goaltender Kevin Baker (4 saves) midway into the frame. Two goals from Walsh (one shorthanded) and a tally each by Ethan Russell and Jarred Tattersall staked Keene out to a comfortable advantage after 15 minutes. A senior, Tattersall also contributed three assists in the frame. His score, with less than a minute remaining, came against Somersworth backup goalie Nic Pruett.

“The kids worked the puck down low and were all over the net,” McIntosh said. “That is what we do in practice so it is nice to see it translate into an actual game scenario. Lately we’ve been doing everything but score so I was happy to see them come out and play the way they did tonight.”

With Pruett between the pipes, things didn’t get much better for the Bearcats. A sophomore, Pruett kept his head on a swivel for the remainder of the contest as Keene continued to strike from all angles.

Walsh’s offensive presence migrated over to the middle frame as he buried two early goals, including a power-play marker, to extend the Blackbirds lead to 6-0. Walsh is just 14 points shy of eclipsing 100 points for his career. His father, Steve, who coaches Monadnock Regional, was a 100-point scorer during his playing days at Keene. Later in the period, Keene kept the pressure on as Ben Brown and Peter Kamphuis each slipped shots by Pruett to skate into the second intermission well in-command, leading by eight.

With running time taking over the third, the Blackbirds took their foot off of the gas pedal and focused on keeping Somersworth off the scoreboard. Just like everything else, Keene accomplished that feat.

“A win like this shows that we can beat anyone in the league,” said Walsh, who also added an assist for a five-point night. “I feel this is our year. We want to end strong in Division II before we move up next year.”

Source – New Hampshire Union Leader