Waterville Valley Broomball Begins 35th Year!
By Ray O’Hara, Broomball League Commissioner
The 35th year of organized broomball play began at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5 as the Waterville Valley Rocks took the ice against the Mad River Tavern (MRT). The Rocks were looking to rebound from a disappointing 4th place finish last year against a MRT team looking to get back into playoff contention after years of 5th and 6th place finishes.
There were plenty of questions to be answered by the Rocks who suffered on offense last year, scoring just 12 goals during the 10 game regular season. They lost an experienced player for the season due to a preseason injury and went into this game short two other men. The addition of Dana Gagnon (formerly with CJ’s Penalty Box) on defense was to prove the key to a vastly improved Rocks offense. MRT had their own challenges having lost their goaltender to another team just a few weeks prior to the start of the season.
From the opening face-off, the Rocks’ offense took control keeping the ball in MRT’s defensive zone for most of the first period. For a time it looked like they were “winning the battle but loosing the war” as they peppered the MRT net with shots that were foiled by excellent goal tending. Finally, team captain, Tom Hoyt, scored the Rocks’ first goal of the season taking a pass from Harry Shamberger and scoring with a one-timer from the right side of the slot at the 11:00 minute mark. Shamberger, with an assist from Jess Hill, got on the board a few minutes later with an almost identical shot from the right side of the crease.
It was more of the same in the 2nd period as the Rocks continued to force the play on offense. At 12:00 minutes, Ray Hoyt scored his first goal of the season on a slap shot from the right face off circle giving the Rocks a 3-0 lead entering the final period. At 12:57 Harry Shamberger, with assists from Lauren Purtell and Dustin Showers, scored his second goal from just outside the crease and Showers added the Rocks fifth goal with 1:16 left in the game. MRT managed several 3-on-1 breaks late in the period, but were unable to score as Rocks’ all-star goalie, Kevin O’Brien notched an opening game shutout.
The second game of the night featured last season’s League Champion, The Crushers, against an always dangerous XXX team. Within the first three minutes The Crushers’ Justin Atwood scored the opening goal on a slap shot past XXX goalie Mike Bombara. Just two minutes later, Billy Drake tied the game against last year’s best goalie, Leia Bridgham. From that point on this was a wild, fast-paced game with both teams flying down the ice on attempted breakaways and scrambling defenses. The respective goal tending was exceptional as they turned away a host of shots on net throughout the game. The game remained tied at 1 – 1 at the end of the second period.
As the 3rd period moved past the halfway mark, the level of play moved to a higher tempo with both teams looking for the go-ahead goal. With less than four minutes left in regulation, the Crushers took a penalty giving XXX a golden opportunity to score. Magnificent saves, at both ends of the ice, preserved the tie as the teams went into a five minute overtime period.
With the fatigue factor apparent, the teams still managed to put some great shots on net. The respective goalies held strong throughout a riveting overtime. A 6-person shootout began with men and women players alternating shots. After five rounds without a score the tension level in the arena was high. The Crushers’ team captain, Casey Surette, went down the center of the ice and blasted a rising slap shot past Mike Bombara for the go-ahead goal. XXX had one last chance to tie the game, but Crusher’s goalie, Liea Bridgham turned away the shot giving the Crushers the OT victory.
The third game of the night featured CJ’s Penalty Box against The Campton Mountain Yetis. CJ’s finished the 2013 regular season undefeated at 9-0-1 only to loose the championship game to the Crushers.
The Yetis finished their first season in the league in last place. With all-star offensive player, Mike Bluestein, back for another year, and a number of new players, they hope to see an improvement over last year’s record while facing the unenviable task of meeting CJ’s Penalty Box to begin the 2014 season.
At the 10:00 minute mark, Kelsey Bodin made a great pass to Nick Dullea positioned just outside the center of the crease. Dullea flipped the ball high into the net to put CJ’s ahead 1-0. With 2:25 left in the period Dullea fired a shot from the top of the right face-off circle putting CJ’s up by 2 goals.
The Yetis mounted a strong defense throughout the 2nd period keeping CJ’s off the board while vainly attempting to penetrate a good defense and solid goal tending by Jake “Woodie” Woodward back in the CJ’s net after a 2-year absence. The Yetis continued to hold off CJ’s until the game-breaker came with just 7:42 remaining in the 3rd period. All-Star goalie Jake Woodward remained true to form with an opening game 3–0 shutout.
The Waterville Valley Ice Arena is the venue for Waterville Valley Broomball Week Two: 6:30 p.m. Mad River Tavern vs. XXX; 7:30 p.m. Campton Mountain Yetis vs. Waterville Valley Rocks; 8:30 p.m. CJ’s Penalty Box vs. The Crushers (a re-match of last season’s league championship game). Admission is free!
The WATERVILLE VALLEY COED BROOMBALL LEAGUE is sponsored by AMOSKEAG BEVERAGES of Concord, NH. Visit the Broomball League website.