Kings may have moral victory in 3-1 loss to BG

Staff photo by TOM KING Bishop Guertin's Patrick Madden gets tied up by Nashua South-Pelham's Jake Smith after Kings goalie Nate Serrentino makes a save on a shot by Cardinal Ben Young during Saturday's rivalry clash at Conway Arena.

NASHUA — They were diving, sprawling, giving every ounce of effort possible.

The Nashua High School South-Pelham Kings may have dropped a 3-1 boys hockey game to rival Bishop Guertin on Saturday at Conway Arena, but maybe, just maybe they earned a moral victory.

“We wanted this game bad,” Kings captain Joe Moore said. “We were ready to go today. … It’s a positive step, because we’ve been getting beat pretty bad by a couple of good teams. To see how we could play with these big boys, we knew we have a chance to advance in this league.”

Guertin had a 2-0 lead after one period, but the Kings (2-3) kept it that way in the second period and then Nolan Foss scored a power play goal at 1:40 of the third and suddenly it was 2-1.

The Cardinals (3-2 in Division I) didn’t have to be convinced they were in a competitive game.

“All they had to do was look at the scoreboard,” Guertin coach Gary Bishop said. “They (the Kings) were getting opportunites, and they only needed one more.

“They had a plan, they stuck to it. They stacked it in around the goalie, and the kid (Kings Nate Serrentino) played well.”

Indeed he did, to the tune of 32 saves. He gave up a goal that trickled in off the stick of Aaron Pratt, assisted by Kiely brothers Matt and Chris, at 8:33 of the first. Guertin’s Derek Amaral made it 2-0 at 12:44, assisted by Avery Abbott, and the Cards seemed in control.

But something that always happens during a Kings-Cardinals game, and even going back to most of the South games before the co-op, didn’t. The home teams legs didn’t turn to jelly.

“We now have three lines,” Kings coach Shawn Connors said. “The guys all played really well. That’s exactly what we were trying to do, set the tone to let (the Cardinals) know we were here to play hockey.”

The Kings went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Guertin went 0-for-3. But South-Pelham had three man-advantages in the first period, but came up empty. Guertin goalie Chris Sullivan was superb in the third period, and ended up with 15 saves in total, none of them easy. Chris Skelley assisted on the Foss’s Kings goal.

“Our power play still needs work,” Connors said. “But we’re coaching them towards the playoffs.”

Guertin’s Michael Schaaf scored an empty netter with 1:02 left to secure the Cardinal win. But like the Kings, the Cards felt they left some goals out on the ice.

“We’ve got to get rebound goals, we’ve got to go to the net harder,” Bishop said. “Our young kids are still playing perimeter. We’ve got to go into the dirty areas.”

Which the Kings tried to do when they could. For example, Johnny Pinksten had a shorthanded breakaway in the third, but the puck got ahead of him as he sprawled to the ice.

“That game,” Connors said, “could have gone either way.”

And who would have expected that?