Admirals Sweep the Week, Clinch a DII Playoff Berth

Alvirne-Milford began took to the road on Wednesday to take on Portsmouth-Newmarket in Dover for what was their second to last away game of the regular season, leaving only their trip to play Goffstown at St. Anselm’s College on the 14th for road dates on the calendar. This trip, like three others prior, ended in an Admirals’ 4-1 win, lowering their magic number to clinch a playoff spot at just two.
While the two teams came into Wednesday’s matchup 15 points apart, Alvirne-Milford knew that their opponent was no slouch. The Clippermules have been a thorn in the side of some of Division 2’s best teams all season long, with probably their best game being a 2-1 loss to second-seeded Merrimack. The Admirals had to apply pressure early and set the tone from puck drop to the final horn that they meant business. And set the tone they did in the first frame.
While only coming out with a 1-0 lead off Brandon Ganas’ sixth goal of the season that came on a beautiful cross-crease feed from captain Ceddy Beaulieu, the Admirals outshot the Clippermules 17-2 in the first period, dominating play throughout. The only reason Portsmouth-Newmarket managed to stay afloat was because of the play of freshman goaltender Will Clark. Had he not been standing on his head; odds are this game would have been a barnburner.
In the second period, the floodgates opened up a bit after the Clippermules scored on a 5-on-3 to deadlock the score at 1-1. While the Admirals were killing the latter portion of the 5-on-3, Brandon Callahan sprung linemate Braydon Atwood on a breakaway that Atwood had no trouble burying to give the Admirals the lead right back less than 40 seconds later.
Later on in the second frame, Mason Tomkins would get his third tally of the season, and second in four games, as he found the back of the net on a bullet of a shot from the blue line to make it 3-1 in favor of Alvirne-Milford.
Just 30 seconds later, Mason’s older brother Cory found himself with some open ice on a 2-on-2 rush, and he ripped a shot top shelf for his first goal as a member of the Admirals, giving Alvirne-Milford a 4-1 lead, and that would be where things would stand at the end of the second period, and ultimately the end of the game, giving the Admirals a much-needed four points and inching them closer to a playoff berth. Unfortunately for Alvirne-Milford, St. Thomas managed to beat Somersworth-Coe-Brown in overtime, which kept the magic number from dropping to one. On the bright side, entering Saturday, the Admirals sat in the sixth seed thanks to Goffstown’s loss to Oyster River.
The Admirals entered Saturday understanding their fate: a St. Thomas Aquinas loss or tie and an Admiral loss or tie and Alvirne-Milford clinches a playoff spot. On Saturday afternoon, before the Admirals dropped the puck on the game, they knew the Saints had lost 7-2 to Spaulding. The magic number going into their matchup with Timberlane was 1. All they needed to do was not be the Owls’ first victory in 44 tries, and they were playoff-bound. They came in and took care of business at home, beating the Owls 7-1 and earning their coveted playoff berth.
In the first, it was clear that the Admirals meant business and wanted to get the win and turn the page to Goffstown. Bryce Larco got the scoring opened up 28 seconds into the game and would add a second goal later on in the frame with Braydon Atwood getting his team-leading 14th of the season sandwiched between Larco’s first two tallies. Through one period, the Admirals were handily in control, leading the game 3-0 and just 30 minutes from the playoffs.
The second period saw the Admirals take their foot off the gas, allowing the Owls to score their lone goal of the contest, quickly followed by James Nemeth putting the puck five-hole on Jacoby Sanseverino off a beautiful pass from linemate Cedrik Beaulieu.
Beaulieu would get a tally of his own in the third period; that would make the score 5-1 before Bryce Larco finished off his hat-trick performance, and Atwood scored his 15th on the year to make it 7-1 in favor of Alvirne-Milford and send the game into running clock, giving the Admirals the win and locking up their playoff spot.
Otherwise, around the league, Timberlane was officially eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday, while Lebanon-Stevens-Mascoma clinched a playoff spot, making it official that they will go from 1-17 in DIII a year ago to a playoff team in DII this season. Somersworth-Coe-Brown was unable to push their magic number to one and spoil Merrimack’s senior night, and the Spaulding Red Raiders and the Goffstown Grizzlies lowered their magic numbers to just two. St. Thomas’ elimination number is two, and they cannot be eliminated until next Saturday at the earliest. Their elimination would require Spaulding, Somersworth-Coe-Brown, and Goffstown to all win a game while St. Thomas would have to lose to Portsmouth-Newmarket, or for each of Spaulding, Somersworth-Coe-Brown, and Goffstown to win twice.
For this week, we will see four teams battling for three spots in the playoffs. Goffstown is the most likely team to lock up a spot as they play three games this week, playing Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday needing two wins. However, they are stuck against formidable opponents with a home game against Alvirne-Milford on Wednesday, at Nashua North-Souhegan on Friday, and at Merrimack on Saturday. Spaulding also has a chance to clinch a spot as they play Portsmouth-Newmarket on Wednesday and Oyster River on Sunday. If they can win both games, they’re in regardless of St. Thomas’ result against Portsmouth-Newmarket, they’re in. For Somersworth-Coe-Brown, it will be Timberlane and the Admirals on their schedule this week, both on the road, in their quest for the playoffs. A worthwhile note for these clinching scenarios is that St. Thomas plays next Wednesday at home against DII’s second-seeded Winnacunnet Warriors, so due to each of the playoff teams that control their own destiny having games against either Timberlane or Portsmouth-Newmarket, it is likely that the Saints will be the last team on the outside looking in.

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