Pinkerton wins second state hockey title
Saturday, March, 10
By David Willis
MANCHESTER, N.H. — As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Pinkerton captain Nick Pica did all he could to contain his emotions.
“I was trying to make sure I wasn’t cheering too early,” said the senior defenseman. “Once the lock ran out the gloves were off, and I think mine went the highest. I have never been so excited in my life.”
With 11:52 to go in the game Dominic Corsetto took a pass from Josh Hamilton and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Manchester Memorial that made the Astros Division 1 state champions for the second time in program history in front of an estimated crowd of 1,500.
“It’s just crazy,” said sophomore star J.D. Dudek. “Knowing that this program is over a decade old and only one other team has done it is crazy.”
The only other Astros’ only other hockey title in their 12-year history came in 2009.
“It’s surreal,” said Corsetto. “I feel like I have to play another game. I can’t describe it. I can’t believe we did it.”
The Astros admitted that, despite surging through the season 20-2-2, the butterflies were in their stomachs heading into the game.
“I was so nervous,” said Dudek. “I had the jitters, I was sweating in my hands. But when I got on the bus it all went away. I knew I had to come out hard and play.”
If Dudek was nervous, he didn’t show it early, giving Pinkerton the lead 6:51 into the contest with a pretty goal, his 20th of the season.
“I fought through a hook, faked a slap shot and put it where I saw net,” said Dudek. “We had been playing catchup a lot lately, so to get that 1-0 lead was big.”
The Astros added to that lead with 7:55 to go in the second, when Dudek took the puck behind the net, fired it out in front and area scoring leader Zach Sanford buried it for his 35th goal of the season.
“If you’re going to win championships you need you best players to be the best,” said coach Casey Kesselring. “Zach and J.D. proved again tonight they were the best players in the league in my opinion.”
Corsetto capped the Pinkerton scoring 3:02 into the third, netting his 13th goal of the year.
“(Brendan) Philippon got the puck and Hamilton took it wide,” said Corsetto. “I drove to the net, slid it under the stick and just tapped it in. I felt like it would be the game-winner. I felt like that iced the game.”
But Manchester was not done yet. With just nine shots on goal through more than two periods, Memorial struck for two goals within 25 seconds to cut the score to 3-2 with 6:02 left in the game.
“They made it scary at the end,” said Kesselring. “I tried to call a time out after the second goal, but the crowd was too loud. I wanted to tell them to settle down and that everything was going to work out.”
Work out it did, as the Astro defense locked down, and goalie Matt Marchman turned in a few outstanding saves to keep the lead intact, setting off a massive celebration following the win.”
“It’s really fantastic,” said Kesselring. “A whole season of hard work and dedication. We stuck together and the end was pretty special.”
For Pica, who did not play on the varsity team until this season, the opportunity to skate the ice with the trophy as captain in his hands was something beyond words.
“After four years of work in that moment I was just lost,” he said. “I wouldn’t have my career end any other way.”
Goals: P — J.D. Dudek, Zach Sanford, Dominic Corsetto; MM — Colin Williamson, Jacob Boylan
Assists: P — Dudek, Devin Moore, Josh Hamilton, Brendan Philippon; MM — Brady Bilodeau, Ethan Pollock
Saves: P — Matt Marchman 17; MM — Tyler Fay 25