PHS wins one for John Durkin: Freshmen Arsenault, Kozikowski help PHS hockey rout Kearsarge
By DAN DOYON
February 23, 2014 2:00 AM
EXETER — Beau Arsenault and Oscar Kozikowski may be freshmen, but they're right in the middle of what could be the most successful season in the history of the Portsmouth High School boys hockey team.
Arsenault (forward) and Kozikowski (defenseman) had an another strong game in Portsmouth's 7-1 Division III victory over Kearsarge on Saturday night at The Rinks at Exeter. Arsenault finished with two goals and Kozikowski added a goal and an assist.
"They're two very skilled players," Portsmouth coach Al Brandano said. "The nice part is besides their skill, they have the ability to play all over the ice."
Portsmouth won its fifth straight game to improve to 9-3-1 and is currently fourth in the Division III standings.
Arsenault began the Clippers' five-goal first period on an assist from Jack Alden three minutes into the game, then netted his second goal late in the second period to give the Clippers a 7-0 lead. Arsenault is third on the team in scoring behind linemates Alden and Aaron Rancourt.
"Personally, I feel lucky because teams usually segregate freshmen, but we're all a brotherhood," Arsenault said. "We're all a team and we take part in everything. It has helped a lot."
Brandano said while Arsenault has developed into a premier scoring threat from the start, he has the versatility to play defense down the road, like he did in the third period on Saturday.
"He's got a natural ability to score," Brandano said. "But believe it or not, just watching him, he also has ability to be a natural defenseman. He doesn't know it yet."
After Reed Williamson scored on an assist from Nate Sweet, Kozikowski scored off a Spencer Young pass to give the Clippers a 4-0 lead with 7:17 left in the first period.
"Right now, our freshman year is going great," Kozikowski said. "I feel great that we're able to contribute to this team and I just can't wait for each game to come."
"We're working with Oscar so that he'll be one of those players we can call upon in the next three years to be play three or four positions," Brandano said.
Rancourt scored Portsmouth's fifth goal of the first period on an assist by Travis Raynolds. Sweet gave the Clippers a 6-0 lead in the third.
"(Portsmouth) is a deep team; they just don't have one or two superstars that you can stop," Kearsarge coach Michael Fisher said. "They roll three or four lines at you and they're bigger than some of the teams we play."
Portsmouth starting goalie Brady Marchewka made five saves, while backup Eddy Ferrini made seven. Portsmouth had a 27-12 shots on goal advantage on the night.
The Clippers have one goal in front of them entering the final week of the regular season, and that is to clinch a top-four playoff spot. It's believed it would be the first home playoff game in program history.
"That would be absolutely huge for us," Rancourt said.
Rancourt's game-winner lifts PHS hockey in overtime
By Mike Zhe
February 20, 2014 2:00 AM
EXETER — With one well-placed overtime shot, Aaron Rancourt applied a bandage to a game that could have left a lasting wound for the Portsmouth High School hockey team.
Made a little bit of history with it, too.
Rancourt's second goal of the game, at the 6:06 mark of sudden-death overtime against Kennett, was the game-winner in a 3-2 win. It's the first time a Portsmouth team has beaten Kennett in 17 years, according to coach Al Brandano.
It looked like a done deal when the Clippers (8-3-1) took a 2-0 lead into the third period. But two goals by Kennett leading scorer Brad Canavari — including a bad-angle equalizer with 42 seconds left in regulation — sent the game to OT.
"I felt we outplayed them the whole game," said Rancourt, a senior who is used mostly on defense. "If we didn't come out with a win I would have been very disappointed." (click here for the full story)
Rancourt reaches 100-point milestone in PHS hockey win
By Mike Zhe
February 13, 2014 2:00 AM
EXETER — One of Aaron Rancourt's biggest assets is his slap shot, which he likes to unload from the point for the Portsmouth High School hockey team.
"One of the hardest shots in the league and one of the most accurate," noted Portsmouth coach Al Brandano.
But it wasn't velocity that earned Rancourt his milestone during Wednesday night's game against Manchester West. It was a nifty move across the blueline on the left that let him dodge a defender, and then the top-shelf wrister over the goalie's shoulder that followed.
The goal was the 100th career point for the big senior forward/defenseman, who played strictly defense as the Clippers routed West, 10-2, to improve to 7-3-1 in Division III and stay on track for a home playoff game. He's only the second Portsmouth player to achieve the century mark, with Ben Fralick doing it in 2007.
"It's always good to get it on a night when we score more than they do," said Rancourt. (click here to read more)
Marchewka ices down win for Clippers
NASHUA — The Portsmouth High School boys hockey team extended its unbeaten start in Division III.
Credit senior goalie Brady Marchewka with the save.
Marchewka made 33 saves on 36 shots, junior Reed Williamson scored the go-ahead goal with 1:33 remaining in the third period and the Clippers edged Souhegan, 4-3, at Conway Arena on Saturday night.
Portsmouth improved to 2-0-1 on the season. It took a total team effort, as Marchewka and Co. killed off a 5-minute misconduct penalty in the third period before Williamson's game-winner, which came off an assist from Cody Mallory.
"They came at us for 5 minutes," PHS coach Al Brandano said. "(Marchewka) was unstoppable. The difference was the goaltending."
The Clippers got other goals in the victory from senior Aaron Rancourt, sophomore John Witkowski and sophomore Jack Alden.
New-look PHS hockey team skates to win in opener
EXETER — Emerging from its locker room wearing new gold and maroon uniforms, the Portsmouth High School boys hockey team owns a fresh image and a good start to the season.
The Clippers unleashed 41 shots and overcame a second-period deficit to beat Laconia/Winnisquam, 4-3, in their Division III opener at The Rinks at Exeter on Thursday. Senior forward Aaron Rancourt netted the game-winning goal with 10 minutes left in regulation.
"We put a lot of pressure on them," Rancourt said. "We came out strong and I think we played a pretty good game the whole way."
Sophomore forward Jack Alden said the Clippers want to be more aggressive toward the net this season. That tactic paid off when Alden scored nearly four minutes into the first period on an assist from freshman Beau Arsenault.
Young tandem to bolster Clippers
PORTSMOUTH — With a limited roster, Portsmouth boys hockey coach Al Brandano had no choice
but to throw Jack Alden and Luke LaCroce into the fire on the first line during their freshman seasons.
Now, with a Division III season under their belts, the sophomores are embracing their roles as young leaders for the Clippers.
Portsmouth (6-13 last season) made the Division III tournament for the fourth time in Brandano's five seasons last winter, and Alden and LaCroce were among the key contributors.
"It's going to help me getting a lot of playing time last year and it's going to help carry it over into this year with our experience," Alden said. "We got thrown into last year. We had no choice."
"It's a really different game from youth hockey to high school," LaCroce said. "It's a lot faster, but it really helped to play a lot last year, and I think our team can do something special."
Rancourt, Mallory set to lead PHS hockey team
PORTSMOUTH — The three-hour bus ride following last season's 17-1 loss to Berlin in the Division III quarterfinals could have a big impact on the Portsmouth High School hockey team this winter. Clippers coach Al Brandano said the ride home after that defeat was an important bonding experience for the nine players on the bus. The focus had already turned to this season, which began with practices at The Rinks at Exeter last week. Portsmouth finished with a 6-13 record last season and will begin the regular season at home against Laconia/Winnisquam on Dec. 19.
"It was a tough loss for us, but that bus ride on the way home was one of the things that brought us together," Brandano said. "We did some soul-searching. The great thing is that memory of the ride and what they want to be. They want to be champions this year."