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Division I boys hockey: Shorthanded goals, Breen lift Windham into final vs. Londonderry

Mar. 6—MANCHESTER — Hanover High School boys hockey coach Dick Dodds said his team found out Wednesday night why Windham is the top-seeded team in the NHIAA Division I tournament.

The No. 1 seed Jaguars jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the opening 17-plus minutes on their way to a 5-1 semifinal victory over Hanover at JFK Coliseum.

Windham (17-2-1) will make its second-ever state final appearance on Saturday at SNHU Arena in the Division I title game against second-seeded Londonderry, which beat 11th-seeded Exeter 6-1 in Wednesday's second semifinal.

The Jaguars' only other final appearance was in 2016, when they won the Division II championship.

Fifth-seeded Hanover finished with a 13-7 record.

"They're solid," Dodds said of the Jaguars. "They've got a lot of depth. They've got really good top-end players but they don't really drop off. We made mistakes today but they took advantage of them."

Windham took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission behind a pair of special-teams goals.

Windham's Andrew Martino scored a power-play goal with 4:37 left in the first period to open the game's scoring. The senior forward shot around a Hanover player and beat Bears netminder JoJo Drent stick side.

Classmate Aiden Quaglietta followed up with a breakaway shorthanded goal with 1:26 left before the first intermission. Quaglietta went forehand to backhand on Drent (21 saves) before tucking the puck inside the near side post.

Senior forward Nate Crowley scored a shorthanded turnaround goal 25 seconds into the second frame to build a 3-0 Jaguars advantage. Sophomore defenseman Josh Martino then scored from the right point at the 2:03 mark of the second.

"I think two shorthanded goals in the first three of the game — it doesn't matter what team you're playing, that's deflating," Windham coach Shawn Dunn said. "I think that was a crucial turning point in this game."

Dodds said Windham's penalty kill outworked his power-play unit.

Dunn credited his team's offensive chances on the penalty kill to his players' speed and playing on the Olympic-size sheet of its home rink at the Icenter in Salem.

JFK Coliseum is a 185-by-85-inch sheet.

"The negatives (of the sheet difference) on the power-play side are positives on the penalty-kill side because now they have to skate that extra 20, 30 feet on an Olympic rink," Dunn said. "You get to a rink like this size or SNHU (Arena) and you're in that condition, you're at that place you're trying to get to 10 times faster. ... They can easily turn that defense into offense."

Crowley capped the game's scoring with an empty-goal with 2:58 remaining.

The Bears got on the board with a power-play goal from senior captain Wyatt Seelig with 3:46 remaining.

Windham senior netminder Ben Breen, who did not play hockey last season, made 36 saves. He also earned two of his six shutouts in a 2-0 regular-season win over the Bears and a 3-0 quarterfinal triumph over eighth-seeded Keene.

"I think he made an argument for player of the year," Dunn said of Breen. "He's just been lights out for us all season."

Hanover had a 37-23 shots-on-goal advantage and went 1-for-5 on the power play.

Hanover generated plenty of chances over the opening half of the first period and ended the frame with a 17-11 shots advantage. The Bears also had two of their power-play opportunities in the second period but did not create many quality scoring opportunities on either.

"It was what you have to do if you want to be at the top of the mountain and they showed that they're bought in," Dunn said of his players' semifinal performance. "They're ready to go."

ahall@unionleader.com