Nashua North tips Alvirne to win Conway Arena hockey tourney

NASHUA – Jake Genest has a much better feeling heading into 2014 than he did going into this old year.

A year ago, the Nashua High School North goalie gave up a fluke game-winning goal to rival Nashua South in the Conway Arena Tournament finals. On Monday, he stopped 12 Alvirne shots to record a 3-0 shutout as the unbeaten Titans took the holiday tourney championship.

“It felt really good, the boys were playing really well in front of me” said Genest, whose team was also helped by two goals by junior Dan Leblanc. “We have a completely different team this year, starting out 7-0 (overall). It’s a lot different outlook and I’ve got a lot of confidence.”

Genest had back-to-back shutouts in the tournament. The Broncos (2-3 overall) got even more of a boost from their goalie, Curtis Richall, who stopped 30 North shots. But the Titans, who took a 1-0 lead into the third period, weren’t to be denied.

“We reminded them of how it went last year,” North coach Dan Legro said. “We went into it thinking it was perhaps already won, and we didn’t want that to happen again.

“Alvirne had just scored 12 goals in two games. So we were kind of geared up to be an offensive force, but fortunately they didn’t score today so we feel glad about that.”

The Panthers were clinging for much of the game to a 1-0 lead on Leblanc’s first goal, a wrister from the right wing side that beat Richall top shelf at 12:24 of the first.

“He (Richall) played great all weekend, he was the MVP of the tournament for us, for sure” Broncos coach Brian Gould said. “But with a good goalie if you don’t put the puck on the net, you’re not going to have a chance to score. It just didn’t work, they kept pressuring us.”

Richall kept Alvirne in for as long as he could. A key moment came when the Broncos Trevor Perron got an interference call after jousting with Latham – Alvirne coaches felt both players should have gone – and the Titans’ Joey Paige buried a shot on the power play at 7:59 of the third to make it 2-0. His brother, Tim, assisted on the play, along with Jon Searles. Joe Paige also had an earlier assist.

“It was the best officiated game of the weekend,” Gould said, “but that goal killed us.”

Leblanc, assisted by Robert Lavine, scored a shorthanded goal at 12:57 to put the icing on the Conway cake for North. And Genest made six of his 12 stops in the third period.

“Jake’s been doing a great job,” Legro said. “He’s been coming out playing the puck confidently. … We’ll try to keep doing what we’re doing, because what we’re doing is working right now.”

Souhegan third

Souhegan, which had lost two overtime games to the finalists, got a shutout of its own in the game for fifth place, blanking Nashua South 5-0.

Sabers sophomore Joe Nutting had a hat trick, giving him nine for the tournament. Mike Hayden and Riley Connor also scored for the Sabers (3-2 overall), while Hayden and Nutting each added two assists. Alek Maresco Kevin O’Brien and Vincent Silvestri also had assists.

South goalie A.J. Bender had 18 saves, while Connor McCall had 16 for Souhegan in earning the shutout.

In the third place game, Coventry (R.I.) topped Bishop Brady, 5-2, with captain Zach Woods leading the way with a goal and three assists. Brady (1-4 overall) got a goal and an assist from Brandon Starkweather. Brady goalie Tom Houghton had nine saves, while Vincent Zannella stopped 22 Brady shots for Coventry (3-5).