In what has certainly been a most exciting year for fans of “hockey” at Manchester Memorial High School, the ice hockey team, like the field hockey team last fall, largely dominated Division 1 for most of the season before coming up just short in the state championship game. In what was the fourth high school game of the day at Verizon Wireless Arena, the Crusaders faced top-seeded Pinkerton Academy for the Division 1 championship game on Saturday, March 10. Despite a rally late in the third period, they were outperformed in a hard-fought game that resulted in a 3-2 win for Pinkerton.
Memorial had resumed the playoffs from the previous weekend on Wednesday, March 7, when they faced #3 seed Bishop Brady in a semi-final game played at the Crusaders’ home JFK Arena. Loyal student fans came to this game displaying posters that read “Memorial Everything,” “Crusader Pride,” “We Believe,” and “This is Our House.” The players proved themselves ready for the intense pressure that came with the game when they dominated the ice for a 4-0 victory. At only 2:17 into the 1st period, junior forward Christopher Burgess scored a goal, assisted by senior forward Patrick Curley. Then at 6:08 in the 2nd period, junior forward Jacob Boylan scored and was assisted by sophomore forward Brendan Sullivan and junior forward Ethan Pollock. The Crusaders rallied again in the 3rd period when Pollock scored an unassisted goal at 7:28. Then at 13:51, with barely a minute left in the game, junior forward Matthew Tufts scored the team’s 4th goal that was assisted by sophomore defenseman Bryan Syrene. Later that night, Pinkerton Academy would defeat defending champion Trinity High School to meet Memorial in the state finals on Saturday.
The game on Saturday afternoon was delayed as a result of lower division championship games having taken longer than expected. At around 5:30 P.M., the Crusaders took to the ice at Verizon Wireless Arena to face Pinkerton for the state title. Top-seeded Pinkerton scored once each in the 1st period, 2nd period, and again early in the 3rd period. Despite their seemingly secure 3-0 advantage, Memorial would later score two goals within less than thirty seconds of each other. At 8:33 in the final period, junior defenseman Colin Williamson scored a goal that was assisted by senior team captain Brady Bilodeau. Then just shortly thereafter at 8:58, Jacob Boylan scored when assisted by Ethan Pollock. This set the stage for a possible dramatic comeback, but Pinkerton held off any subsequent scoring attempts to win the title with their 3-2 victory.
The girls’ varsity basketball team at Memorial faced Bishop Guertin High School at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) for their semi-final game on March 7. They got off to a good start and led after the 1st and 3rd quarters, but Guertin rallied late in the 4th quarter to send the game into overtime. Memorial senior forward Amra Elezovic led the team with 19-points, including a 3-point shot in the final seconds of overtime, but Bishop Guertin managed to win by a score of 49-45. They then defeated Londonderry in the finals to win the state championship.
After an upset win at Pinkerton Academy, the boys’ varsity basketball team at Memorial traveled across town to face archrival Central High School in a quarterfinal match on Friday, March 9. They got off to an early lead and scored 17-points in the second quarter to lead Central by 8 points at the half. Nearly all of the team’s players had contributed to this lead, as no one player had scored more than 6 of the team’s 26 points in the 1st half. Central rallied in the second half, but Memorial still led by one-point at the end of the 3rd quarter. Their senior guard, Majak Wenyin played efficiently in the fourth quarter and scored a 3-pointer in the final seconds, but Central managed to win by a score of 41-38.
Central will face Manchester’s top-seeded Trinity High School in the second semi-final basketball game on Tuesday, March 13 at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). The winner of that game should be favored to win the state title against either Merrimack or Spaulding on Saturday, March 17. It seems that there is still a very good chance that a school from Manchester will indeed win the Division 1 Boys’ Basketball title this time around.