Hooksett, NH- Aaron Kesselman scored twice, including the game-winner late in the third period, to lead the Northern Division over the Southern Division in the eighteenth annual Eastern Junior Hockey League All-Star Game.
Right from the opening faceoff, the teams set the tone for the game. The North charged down the ice and put one on South goaltender John Nauta, who was equal to the task.
The South drew first blood just over a minute into the game when Hugo Turcotte sent linemates Robbie Davis and Brandon Stroud in on a 2-on-1. Davis passed to Stroud, who sent it right back to Davis, who fired it past North goaltender Brian Billett.
The North countered 25 seconds later when Danny Federico passed from the point to Cody Sharib, who tipped it into the net.
Zach Luczyk gave the North its first lead of the game with 11:17 remaining in the period. Federico fed Kyle Smith in the circle and Smith attempted to pass the puck across the slot. A South defenseman broke up the pass, but Luczyk collected the puck and sniped it from the slot.
Brian Sheehan tied the game with 6:14 on the clock when he took a pass from Terry O’Neill in the slot and knocked it home.
Just one minute later, the South regained the lead when Cam Hampson skated down the right wing and sent a centering pass to Hugo Turcotte, who one-timed it past Billett, who recorded 15 saves in the period.
Aaron Kesselman tied the game 2:58 into the second frame when Cody Sharib sent him a cross-ice pass and rifled it from the top of the left circle past Nauta.
Blake Dougherty replaced Nauta, who made 19 saves in the contest, midway through the period and was immediately tested by K.J. Tiefenwerth, but was up for the challenge.
Greg Tang put the South back in front with 2:17 on the clock when he took a pass from Andy Latta and fired it past North goaltender Colin Stevens, which turned out to be the only blemish on his 12-save effort in the second period.
Brandon Stroud gave the South a two-goal lead with 17:40 remaining. Brendan Corcoran swept the puck to Robbie Davis, who immediately redirected it to Stroud, who led a 3-on-1. With the defenseman covering the other two forwards, Stroud blasted a shot past goaltender Brian Robbins.
The North mounted an impressive rally when Bennett Carroccio picked up the puck at the point and sent a pass to Connor Anthoine at the goal line. Anthoine backhanded it to the front of the net and Connor Toomey banged it past Blake Dougherty.
With a faceoff to Dougherty’s stick side, the North executed a perfect faceoff to tie the game. Jake Rutt passed from the point to Aaron Kesselman, who shot from down low. Dougherty made the save, but Ryan Tyson pounced on the rebound and scored.
Kesselman netted the game-winner with 2:18 to go when Cody Sharib hit a South player who attempted to clear the puck. Kesselman grabbed the puck, skated in, and ripped a shot top-shelf past Dougherty.
Dougherty skated off with a minute remaining after a brilliant 18-save performance, but the South was unable to tie the game. Trent Ruffolo scored an empty-net goal just before time expired.
The Eastern Junior Hockey League would like to congratulate all participants in the 2011 EJHL All-Star Classic. Special gratitude is extended to the Sean Tremblay and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs for hosting the festivities, Pop Tops Sportswear for providing the uniforms, and Pepper Sawyer for producing the line charts.
NOTES: Tyler Kapp, Ryan Randall, Brian Harris, Patrick Doherty, and Justin Mansfield were unable to compete in the All-Star Game due to injury. Ryan Tyson, Cody Smith, Bennett Carroccio, and Kyle Bauman were added to the lineup in their places.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)