Congratulations to the Granite State Wild Pee Wee Majors (05) team, who won the New Hampshire Pee Wee Tier II State Championship on March 4th!
Entering the State Tournament as the #3 seed, the Wild first squared off against sixth-seeded NH East in Round Robin play. In typical tournament fashion, the game was tighter than anticipated, with the Wild clinging to a tenuous 3-2 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the third period, thanks to a pair of goals by Jon Pelletier and another by Jackson Carroll. A late tally by Caleb Marasca, followed by an empty netter from Nate Gagnon iced the game for the Wild by a much-closer-than-it-sounded final score of 5-2.
In their second Round Robin tilt on Saturday, the Wild faced top-seeded Manchester-2, in what would turn out to be a preview of Sunday’s state championship game. The goaltending tandem of Nathan Lavoie and Britton Dunbar thwarted the potent Manchester-2 offensive attack with a seemingly endless array of remarkable saves, and the Wild mounted a 2-0 lead on goals by Nate Gagnon and Caleb Marasca. A late score by Manchester-2 put the game in doubt in the final minutes, but the Wild held on for a 2-1 win to advance into the state semi-finals.
Manchester-1 was the opponent in Sunday morning’s semifinal, and the game was truly a donnybrook. Having split their regular-season series, the two teams once again battled down to the wire. The Wild struck first with a goal by Tommy Demeroto, but Manchester-1 responded quickly with a goal of their own to tie the score at 1-1. A nifty tip-in by Nate Gagnon of a Charlotte Wensley shot from the point put the Wild ahead 2-1 in the second period, but once again, the lead was short-lived. Manchester-1 scored the tying goal, and then took a 3-2 lead early in the third period.
It looked as though that score might hold up, ending the Wild season, but the second tip-in of the game of a Charlotte Wensley shot, this time with Chase Turcotte scoring the goal, tied the game at 3-3 late in the third period. Then, with just 1:01 remaining in the game, Jon Pelletier took a pass from Caleb Marasca and buried the game-winning goal, sending the Wild into the championship game with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory.
Manchester-2 held off Upper Valley in the other semifinal game, earning a rematch against the Wild in the state championship game, which would fittingly be another nail-biter. Ryan Dumont set up Nate Gagnon for the game’s first goal, and the score remained 1-0 until Jackson Carroll snuck a hard wrist shot past the Manchester goaltender for what appeared to be a decisive a 2-0 Wild lead with under 4 minutes to play. Manchester-2 would not go quietly, however, cutting the lead to 2-1 with 2 precious minutes left on the clock. Before Machester-2 could pull their goaltender for the extra attacker, however, Charlotte Wensley’s long outlet pass sent Jon Pelletier on a 1-on-1 rush, and he bulled his way past the lone Manchester-2 defender and found the net, icing the game at 3-1 and sealing the State Championship for the Wild.
The win was the Wild’s 8th straight tournament victory (they also went 4-0 in winning a January tourney title in Montreal), so they enter next weekend’s New England Regional with momentum on their side. Good luck to the Wild as they square off against New England’s best in Augusta!