From the very beginning, Belmont Hill goalie Matt Gedman seemed to be the last man standing. He was in a doomed fight, a lost cause. Nevertheless, he gave every ounce of resistance he had. He held the line for as long as he possibly could, even as it became clear that victory was out of the question.
"He was great," said Avon Old Farms coach John Gardner, whose team defeated Belmont Hill, 3-0, yesterday in the NEPSAC Division 1 championship at the Icenter in Salem, N.H.
Gedman (30 saves) withstood a barrage in the first period. He stopped 16 shots gloveside, stickside, and everywhere in between.
"He was stoning us," Gardner said.
Gedman may have been a wall, but he had little help defending it. Avon's Nick Bonino (two goals, one assist) and Tom Atkinson (one goal) were virtually unstoppable. Whether by nifty stickhandling or creative passes, the pair rendered Belmont Hill's defensemen nonfactors. That left Gedman as the last line of defense.
Halfway into the second period, Gedman's wall finally started to crack. Bonino scored when he collected a rebound near the crease and hacked it home.
Gedman soon found himself completely under siege, despite making a couple of spectacular glove-side saves. But soon the wall came tumbling down. With 3:30 left in the second, Belmont Hill tried to clear the puck but Avon's Ken Trentowski caught defenders off guard with a cross-ice pass to Atkinson, who was streaking unopposed toward the net. The senior forward fired a shot over Gedman's glove to the top-right corner of the net.
The last hurrah came with five minutes left in the game. In what seemed like an instant, Bonino controlled a faceoff in the Belmont Hill zone, then slid the puck between the legs of a defender and created an open alley to the net. He fired a gloveside shot that beat Gedman, who barely had time to react to the sequence.
"That was Bonino at his best," Gardner said. "He's a magician with the puck."
Division 3 South: Dan Dempsey potted two goals in Norwell's 4-3 defeat of Pembroke.
NEPSAC Class A: Bridgton Academy defeated Brewster Academy, 80-67, for its third consecutive NEPSAC title.
NEPSAC Class C: Senior guard E.B. Davis turned in a 26-point, 10-rebound performance, and sophomore Darryl
NEPSAC Class D: Brimmer & May took home its first NEPSAC championship, edging St. Luke's, 56-54, behind Kyle Casey's 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
Division 3 South: Fairhaven's Erin Baldwin scored 28 of her 32 points in the first half, as the Blue Devils beat Ursuline, 73-42. Forward Kaleigh Charette added 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win.