Boys’ hockey: Pembroke-Campbell’s program-best season ends with a championship game defeat

Cam Plumb (11) controls the puck for Pembroke-Campbell during Saturday's Division III boys' hockey championship at SNHU Arena.

Cam Plumb (11) controls the puck for Pembroke-Campbell during Saturday's Division III boys' hockey championship at SNHU Arena. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

PAC goalie Liam Cripps lowers his pad for a save during the D-III boys' hockey championship at SNHU Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

PAC goalie Liam Cripps lowers his pad for a save during the D-III boys' hockey championship at SNHU Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

PAC's Cam Plumb fires a shot on net during Saturday's D-III championship game.

PAC's Cam Plumb fires a shot on net during Saturday's D-III championship game. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Caden Mix (3) drives to the net for PAC as Berlin-Gorham's Evan Poulin (2) and Michael Cote (13) try to knock him off the puck and goalie Kolin Melanson waits for a shot.

Caden Mix (3) drives to the net for PAC as Berlin-Gorham's Evan Poulin (2) and Michael Cote (13) try to knock him off the puck and goalie Kolin Melanson waits for a shot. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-09-2024 6:18 PM

MANCHESTER – No. 1 Berlin-Gorham (20-0-0) doesn’t allow many goals. Entering Saturday’s Division III boys’ hockey championship game, it had allowed more than one goal in just four of its first 19 games this season. 

So when Jamison Walsh scored for the top seed 8:25 into the second period (assists from Dillon Boucher and Connor Lemoine) to make it 1-0, the challenge for No. 2 Pembroke-Campbell (15-5-0) became that much greater. PAC tried peppering the net with shots but just couldn’t get one to cross the goal line at SNHU Arena.

When Lemoine later fired home an empty-net goal at 14:10 of the third period, PAC’s dream season came to a dispiriting end. 

“I thought they played well,” PAC head coach Marc Noel said of his team’s play in the 2-0 loss. “They left it on the ice which is where I asked them to leave it. Their efforts were good. They had a bad pass in the second period and scored the goal. That’s really where the game was left.”

The two teams had met twice during the regular season with Berlin-Gorham winning both, 3-2. On Saturday, PAC started the game as the aggressor on offense, establishing prolonged periods of offensive zone time but came away with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

By the time the third period rolled around, Berlin-Gorham started to play a wing lock, where one of the wingers would pinch back on defense aggressively, making it increasingly difficult for PAC to possess the puck in the offensive zone long enough to generate pressure and create scoring chances.

“It’s old Scotty Bowman stuff where they frustrate the hell out of you,” Noel said. “(Berlin goalie) Kolin Melanson is amazing. We hit the post three or four times. Left the puck right on the line and just didn’t finish. They played well. Played hard, and they left it on the ice which is what I asked them to do.

On a positive note, first time ever for this program to make the state championships. I can’t say anything bad about that.”

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Melanson stopped all 17 shots he faced; PAC goalie Liam Cripps turned aside 17 of 18 shots, before Berlin-Gorham’s empty-net score.

PAC’s journey to the championship came in large part because of the contributions of its 14-player senior class, headlined by Cripps and forward Cam Plumb. Saturday may not have ended with them hoisting the championship plaque, but Noel expressed immense pride in what his group accomplished.

“It’s just incredible to watch them grow,” he said. “They were pretty talented as freshmen. I knew they were going to be able to make some sparks. They were devastated last year, losing in the semifinals to the same team. I think they had high aspirations. But we all knew that Berlin’s a great team, and we had to be absolutely perfect, and we just weren’t.”