Hockey: Pembroke-Campbell advances to program’s first championship game appearance with 5-0 semifinal win over Kearsarge-Plymouth

Pembroke-Campbell’s Kaleb Couture (left) battles Kearsarge-Plymouth’s Shea Curley for possession of the puck in Wednesday night's Division III hockey semifinal at Plymouth State University’s Hanaway Rink. Pembroke-Campbell won 5-0 to advance to the program’s first ever state final. 

Pembroke-Campbell’s Kaleb Couture (left) battles Kearsarge-Plymouth’s Shea Curley for possession of the puck in Wednesday night's Division III hockey semifinal at Plymouth State University’s Hanaway Rink. Pembroke-Campbell won 5-0 to advance to the program’s first ever state final.  JOSHUA SPAULDING / Salmon Press

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 03-07-2024 1:34 AM

In 25 years the Pembroke ice hockey program has never played in a state championship. That will change on Saturday.

No. 2 Pembroke-Campbell (15-4-0) controlled Wednesday night’s semifinal from start to finish, defeating No. 6 Kearsarge-Plymouth (9-10-1), 5-0, at Plymouth State University’s Hanaway Rink.

PAC will take on No. 1 Berlin-Gorham, last year’s runner-up and the 2022 champions, in Saturday’s final at SNHU Arena in Manchester.

PAC left no doubt who the stronger team on Wednesday, outshooting the Cats 17-6 in the first period, with Caden Mix’s goal one minute into the game (off an assist from Cam Plumb) giving PAC an early 1-0 lead.

“That’s exactly what our game plan was,” PAC head coach Marc Noel said. “I wanted to come out strong and I wanted to make sure that we finish this year. Last year we came out strong, blew a two-goal lead (in the semifinals to eventual champions Belmont-Gilford) and I didn’t want that to happen. I had them focus on keeping the puck in the zone and throwing the puck at the net every opportunity.”

Pembroke tallied two goals in both the second and third periods, and outshot the Cats 42-18, keeping Kearsarge-Plymouth goaltender Owen Garzia (37 saves) on his toes.

Plumb (two goals), Alex Hanson and Declan Sullivan found the back of the net, and Tyler Reynolds, Patrick Chamberlain, Trevor Lemaire and Gavin Retkevicz had assists.

PAC did a good job locking down center ice and preventing the Cats from breaking out of the zone, something they did very well in a 4-3 overtime upset over the defending champion Bulldogs in the quarterfinals.

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PAC goalie Liam Cripps made 18 saves and has allowed just one goal in the past five games.

Noel has lauded his team’s strong defense since the beginning of the season, but will face a strong Mountaineer defense and goaltender in Saturday’s final.

“(Goalie) Colin Melanson is their staple,” Noel said. “If my guys come out and put the puck on the net as much as they did tonight, we can beat them.”