Boys’ hockey: Evan Guerin’s hat trick leads Belmont-Gilford to D-III title over Berlin-Gorham

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 03-11-2023 10:39 PM

A year ago they lost the championship and headed into the offseason with the goal of winning it the next year. One season later, on the same ice, against the same team, the Bulldogs completed that mission.

The No. 1 Belmont-Gilford hockey team (19-1) played the championship game the way they played their entire season, in control from start to finish, taking an early lead and scoring three times in the second period to top No. 2 Berlin-Gorham, 4-1, to claim the Division III on Saturday at SNHU Arena in Manchester.

The Bulldogs avenged last year’s 3-1 loss that they suffered at the sticks of the Mountaineers (17-4).

“Very, very excited. Everybody’s pretty pumped up right now,” Belmont-Gilford head coach Jason Parent said, whose son played for Belmont-Gilford’s first, and only other, title-winning team in 2015.

Sophomore center Evan Guerin scored a hat trick, including a shot from the point that deflected off a Mountaineer defenseman just 2:02 into the game to give the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead.

Brody Duquette tied the game with 3:28 left in the opening period, shooting the puck from behind the goal line and deflecting it off the back of Belmont-Gilford goaltender Carson McGreevy (17 saves).

The momentum shift didn’t last for long, as Guerin scored off his own rebound 2:18 into the second, completed his hat trick eight minutes later with a shot from the high slot and sophomore defenseman Nathan Gerbig fired a wrist shot into the net with 4.2 seconds on the clock to give the Bulldogs a 4-1 lead heading into the third.

Known for moving the puck well and outskating opponents, Belmont-Gilford was able to bury the Mountaineers in the second period, outshooting them 15-5.

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Senior Jackson Collins, Guerin and his older brother, senior Owen Guerin had assists.

“Between the first and second, we always say that the second period is our period,” said Parent, whose team also scored three second-period goals in a 5-0 semifinal victory over Kingswood. “We can keep them penned in for a long time, oftentimes we can get some good offense out of that. It seemed to work again for us. … I thought we were very disciplined tonight. We only took one penalty. We possessed the puck really well. We took advantage of our scoring opportunities.”

The third period didn’t produce any goals, despite Belmont-Gilford keeping Berlin-Gorham goalie Kolin Melanson (29 saves) very busy throughout the night.

A dominant season from start to finish, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents 120-21 over the 20 games they played this season (an average outcome of a 6-1 victory), their only loss coming to Hollis-Brookline-Derryfield, 2-1, on Feb. 11, but Belmont-Gilford knew that could all be for nothing, especially in the playoffs.

“When you’re the No. 1 seed, everyone gives you their best game,” Parent said. “You need to bring it every single time in the playoffs when it’s one-and-done.” 

Parent highlighted Evan Guerin for his ability to perform well on such a big stage against a rival as a sophomore, defenseman Owen Guerin for “controlling the tempo of the game” from the blue line and McGreevy for making the saves when he needed to.

It’s a talented squad for sure, but it was their commitment to winning as a team that put the Bulldogs over the top this season.

Parent added, “We did some different stuff this year (in practice) and tried to build more of a team, so they were playing for each other and not just themselves.”

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