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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tied with Dover, Merrimack goes to Plan B for victory

MANCHESTER – They can beat you using a number of different weapons.

Say top gun Connor Powell is being pushed around, the way the Dover Green Wave tried to do Monday. Then a senior leader such as Dom Valuzzi will come through with a hat trick. ...

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MANCHESTER – They can beat you using a number of different weapons.

Say top gun Connor Powell is being pushed around, the way the Dover Green Wave tried to do Monday. Then a senior leader such as Dom Valuzzi will come through with a hat trick.

Thus, the Merrimack High School hockey team keeps rolling along, as their 6-2 win over the Green Wave at West Side Arena showed. The ’Hawks remain unbeaten (13-0) atop Division II, and beat a team that has been a thorn in its side (think 2011 title game) the past couple of years.

“We always have a little fire in us when we play Dover,” said Valuzzi, who scored twice in the second period to snap a 2-2 tie. “I get pumped up before the game, especially seeing (Powell) get knocked around. I like to pick my game up, too.”

He picked his team up. Valuzzi had given the ’Hawks a 1-0 lead after one period. He assisted on Jason Fortin’s goal just 1:13 into the second but then the Green Wave (8-4-1) stormed back on goals by Eli Cobb and Ben Henderson to even the score at 2 within the next three minutes.

And with the Wave on the power play shortly after, things were getting tense.

But there was Valuzzi, pouncing on a Dover turnover at the blue line and skating in for the shorthanded goal that put the ’Hawks up for good, 3-2, at the 6 minute mark. He nailed another breakaway attempt at 11:26 to give Merrimack a 4-2 lead after two, and yes, a stray hat was thrown on the ice.

“They put it away,” Dover coach Steve Riker said. “They get their chances, they put them away. We got some chances, we didn’t score, we only got two goals to show for it. We’re all Swedish, no finish, and they’re finish.”

“Connor obviously has a target on his back,” Merrimack coach Kurt Mithoefer said. “Dom stepped up when he needed to. Dom’s one of those quiet guys. He gets his points, you don’t really hear too much about him. But in big games like this, if Conner gets shut down, we have (other) offensive threats waiting to go.”

Powell did get his goal, a shorthanded breakaway at 10:48 of the third period, to put the finishing touch on the game.

Josh Roy, assisted by Valuzzi, had a power play goal earlier in the period.

Lost in what became a rout was the play of Merrimack goalie Brett Glendye, who made 31 saves, a couple of the “How’d that happen?” variety. Yes, this was game for seniors to come through.

“Big games like this, all the kids get in their own elements,” Mithoefer said. “He gets up for these big games and he knows how to shut it down. That’s exactly what he did.’