Plainfield, NH – We made the drive over from Vermont to see Holderness School in their first Elite 8 appearance taking on Kimball Union Academy for the third time this season. Kimball Union was able to emerge victorious and complete the season sweep against a determined Holderness team.
The first period opened with tense play and it seemed that both teams had some jitters, though KUA knew their game plan from the start and consistently got the puck deep. Holderness was able to take KUA to overtime in their first matchup at Kimball Union this season, eventually losing 3-2. They also lost in the Lakes Region Championship 4-1, also held at Kimball Union. Holderness found the back of the net first when forward Thomas Raymond put pressure on Daniel Heroux and a KUA defender when they were handling a puck and it was a broken play that found the back of the net. It was not long before a similar play happened at the Holderness end when there was a turnover behind the net and Alex Keller came away with the tying goal. It was only a minute or two later before Michael Sullo capitalized on another mishap on a Holderness breakout. Sullo got his head up on the play and sniped it home to put KUA up 2-1.
Early in the second period, Holderness nearly tied the game when there was a turnover between the KUA defenseman that left Jake Boulanger with a point blank chance that Heroux made an excellent stop on. Holderness was putting on pressure then took a penalty which they successfully killed before tying the game on a Kaden Freelove shot from the left side on the rush that made it just over the pad and into the back of the net. However, KUA upped the pressure again and it was only minutes before Duncan Ramsay rifled a shot from the left point and it bounced off a few guys on the way to the net, last coming off a Jackson Kyrkostas deflection before finding the net. Moments after this, Holderness hit a post and had sustained pressure on KUA. Heroux made some key saves during this stretch to bring it into the second intermission.
Kimball Union played a disciplined and decisive game from start to finish, and this would prove to be effective in the third and final period. Jaiden Moriello was a major player in this game in his own zone and especially on the forecheck where he pressured the Holderness defense all game. Holderness had standout performances by Dave Brandes who made numerous rushes up the ice to lead the breakout and would even take it on a rush, made several breakups on two on ones including some dive stops. Cooper Boulanger, Nick Messina, and EvanPlunkett had tremendous performances and efforts. Plunkett made key stops throughout the game while Boulanger and Messina weaved up the ice for Holderness. In the end, KUA shut things down in the final six minutes with a sustained forecheck and excellent defense by Ramsay, Kareem Alazem, and the entire defense corps. Keller found the empty net to put the dagger in the Bulls.
Holderness ends a year for their history at 20-4-3, while KUA advances to the Elite 8 semifinals against a familiar foe in Salisbury.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Kareem Alazem, D, Kimball Union
2nd Star: Duncan Ramsay, D, Kimball Union
3rd Star: Jaiden Moriello, Kimball Union
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling / Hickling Images