By Ray O’Hara, Waterville Valley Broomball League Administrator
On Thursday, Mar. 7, 2013, CJ’s Penalty Box took to the ice to defend their 2012 league championship in a semi-final game against the 4th place Waterville Valley Rolling Rocks. CJ’s finished the 2013 regular season with a 9-0-1 record – leading the league in goals scored while maintaining the lowest goals against average. The only blemish on their record was a tie at the hands of 5th place Mad River Tavern.
At face value, the odds strongly favored 1st place CJ’s against the 4th place Rocks with a record of 5–5–0. However, this great rivalry evened the playing field as the Rocks gave CJ’s all they could handle during the regular season with CJ’s winning the respective games, by a very narrow margin: 2-1 and 1-0. This semi-final game would prove to be no exception!
The Waterville Valley Rolling Rocks, with a combination of a strong forechecking defense and exceptional goal tending by Kevin O’Brien, kept CJ’s offense in check for most of this game. With under three minutes to play in the 1st period, leading scorer Jay Duguay scored giving CJ’s a lead 1–0. The teams fought a defensive battle for most of the 2nd period until the Rocks’s Nate Blake broke through with a shot past CJ’s Dana Gagnon with five minutes remaining, tying the game at 1-1 The score gave the Rocks a new life and added to the pressure on CJ’s Penalty Box as the 3rd period began.
The go-ahead goal came at 11:15 of the final period as Jay Duguay slapped his second goal of the game past O’Brien for a 2-1 CJ’s lead. The Rocks gave it their all in a desperate attempt to score. Their best chance to tie came late in the period with the Rocks blasting at the net– the ball came loose out of a scramble, but a CJ’s defender directed the ball back to his goaltender freezing the play for a face-off. CJ’s defense managed to hold the Rocks at bay…taking time off the clock for another 2-1 win over the Waterville Valley Rolling Rocks.
The second game of the night pitted the 2nd place Crushers (8-2) against last year’s 2nd place winner XXX (5–5). In the regular season, the Crushers beat XXX 5-0 in the opening game then got away with a 4-3 OT win in week 6. XXX was coming off a final game 6-0 shutout at the hands of CJ’s Penalty Box and a previous game upset by the Waterville Valley Rolling Rocks 2- 1.
In this game, the Crushers put up a dominant defense that frustrated a XXX team that appeared to be missing a couple of key players. The Crusher’s John Thurston scored less than two minutes into the game on a hard shot past XXX goalie J.P. Vaillancourt. From that point and through the second period it was a defensive battle as XXX valiantly fought to keep the game in reach.
The game went into the final period with the Crushers nursing the one-goal lead. Less than a minute into the 3rd period team captain Casey Surette scored the Crusher’s second goal followed just three minutes later with Katie Dodge scoring the game breaker and giving the Crushers a three goal lead with under 11 minutes to play. Those opening minutes of the final period proved devastating to XXX as Crusher’s goal tender Leah Bridgham recorded her 6th shutout of the season and the Crusher’s defense shut down the league’s second best offense!
CJ’s Penalty Box will defend their 2012 Championship against the Crusher’s on Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Waterville Valley Ice Arena. Admission is free. The game will be followed by the annual Broomball Team Banquet and Awards Ceremony at Legends 1291 Sports Bar in the Waterville Valley Town Square.
The league sponsor, AMOSKEAG BEVERAGES, of Concord, NH provides the trophies and the food for the annual Broomball Banquet.