CONWAY — Local hockey fans got a preview of the upcoming high school season with the eighth annual Lumpa Brett Tournament at Ham Arena in Conway Nov. 17-19. Named in honor of the late local sports enthusiast and supporter, William “Lumpa” Brett, the tournament featured adult teams in past years, but Ham Ice Arena Manager Dave Woodbury changed the format this year to give high school players an opportunity to tune up for the upcoming season.
The three team field this year included the Berlin Sabers, made up of many of this years Berlin High School Mountaineers and the Granite State Wild, which are comprised of skaters from several seacoast area teams, including Mountaineer opponent Somersworth/Coe Brown. The host team was the North Conway Nordiques, whose roster was filled with many members of the Kennett High School team.
Game No. 1 of the tournament featured the two north country rivals, the Sabers and Nordiques in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd on the night of Nov. 17. The last time many of these players faced each other was at the Division III State Championship in Manchester last March, but this game was much closer. The Nordiques struck first on a goal by Colby Hall set up by Michael Seavey and Reilly Murphy.
Berlin’s Sawyer Sanchagrin evened the score halfway through the third period on a power-play goal assisted by Dom Paradis, then, with the Nordiques on the power-play late in the game, Caleb McPherson scored the game-winner with 42 seconds left to play with Miles Woodbury and Mackenzie Murphy picking up assists, to edge Berlin, 2-1.
The opening game on Saturday morning, Nov. 18, featured North Conway against Granite State with the Wild striking first and holding on to defeat the Nordiques 3-2. The afternoon game between the Sabers and Wild was perhaps the most entertaining of the weekend. With only eight skaters available and dressed for the game, Berlin fell behind quickly and it looked like the Wild were going to skate away with a blowout win, but following the break halfway through the second period, the Sabers had other ideas. Berlin center Cam Cochran, who had been agitating Wild opponents throughout the afternoon, scored three breakaway goals within three minutes to close the gap to 4-3. The teams traded goals throughout the third period with the pesky Cochran adding two more. With two minutes left and the Wild leading 8-6, the Sabers pulled goalie Trent Labrecque in favor of a sixth attacker, but Granite State took full advantage of the empty net, scoring twice en route to a 10-6 win.
Saturday’s results set up a semifinal matchup on Sunday morning, Nov. 19 between the Sabers and Nordiques. With a short bench, the Sabers were showing signs of fatigue and the Nordiques took advantage by scoring two goals within the first minute before cruising to a 10-1 win. Sanchagrin had the lone goal for Berlin, assisted by Cochran and Damon Ruel. Despite the lopsided end to the tournament for Berlin, the team did earn a great deal of respect.
“The Sabers were the hardest working team here this weekend,” commented Dave Woodbury, who also served as the tournament director. "With only eight skaters in the lineup for two games and nine for the other, they gave 100 percent on every shift, but the numbers were against them and the Nordiques and Wild, each with three full lines, eventually wore them down.”
In the championship game on Sunday afternoon, the Nordiques avenged the earlier loss to the Wild, skating away with a 4-1 win and the tournament championship.