MANCHESTER, N.H. — When it was over early yesterday evening, every single Manchester Central skater charged right toward their goalie, senior Ian Beliveau.
They were so emotional and so appreciative of their netminder that they knocked him back into the goal and onto the ice. Beliveau probably feared for his safety.
The exuberance was understandable as Beliveau’s brilliance, and a couple of breaks along the way, keyed the Little Green’s 3-1 victory over Londonderry in the Division 1 championship game at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The championship was the first for Manchester Central in 33 years and robbed Londonderry (16-5) of its first.
The victory was the eighth straight to end the season for Manchester Central (14-7). Beliveau, who entered the game with a 1.89 goals-against average, was a big reason why. He gave up only two goals in the final two games, against No. 1 St. Thomas and the No. 3 Lancers.
“Beliveau is just a fantastic goalie and the backbone of their team,” said Londonderry captain Eric Coburn. “You’ve got to get a really good shot off to beat him.”
Londonderry’s only goal last night was a sizzling slap shot by Jason Parker in the second period to tie the score at 1-1.
There were plenty of scoring chances for both teams, however, particularly in the scoreless first period, during which Londonderry goalie Joe McGrath was every bit the equal of Beliveau.
Although Londonderry outshot the defensive-minded Little Green 11-7 in the first frame, with Beliveau deftly preventing second chances and staying focused on tipped shots, McGrath also stopped three great scoring chances, including two on semi-breakaways.
Central finally found the net three minutes into the second period when an errant pass rebounded quickly off the side boards onto the stick of Nathan Potvin, who scored on an extreme angle before McGrath could adjust.