MANCHESTER — Londonderry captain Eric Coburn described it as the best game he's ever been a part of in his career.
The Lancers still have one more to go after clinching their first berth in the Division I state hockey championship game with a 5-1 win over Pinkerton of Derry on Thursday night.
"Words can't describe it," said Coburn, who scored twice and had an assist for the third-seeded Lancers (17-4-0). "It's not just the 20 guys and the coaching staff that have worked for this. It's all the kids from the past couple of years. We've been building a program. It just feels so surreal right now. I can't even describe it."
Freshman Frank Wynters also scored twice for Londonderry and Joe McGrath made 24 saves, including nine in the third period as the Lancers stifled any rally attempts by Pinkerton (9-9-2).
"Londonderry moved their feet early in the game," Pinkerton coach Joe Lee said. "Part of what allows us to win when we find success is our speed and our energy and moving our feet. I don't think we were doing that early in the game."
Londonderry led 1-0 after the first and broke it open with a pair of goals early in the second period. Wynters, whose unassisted goal in the first gave Londonderry a lead it would not relinquish, scored again 2:31 into the second period and the Lancers struck again less than three minutes later.
Lucas Poulin, who assisted on Wynters' second goal, scored with 10:06 left in the period and Londonderry's lead was up to 3-0.
Pinkerton fans in the west bleachers chanted "It's not over!" but their spirit fizzled quickly when Coburn gave the Lancers a 4-0 leaed on a goal with 6:21 left in the period.
Tyler Poole finally broke through for Pinkerton on a backhand goal with 3:08 left in the second to pull the Astros within 4-1, but that was all of the offense for the Astros.
Coburn scored a power-play goal 2:59 into the third.
"We knew that we couldn't let up. We just kept going at them," Coburn said. "They were going to keep coming. They're a hard working team. Credit to them — they made a great run to get here."
Pinkerton could not capitalize on back-to-back penalties that gave the Astros a 14-second 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period. Coburn broke up the play at the blue line and the brief two-man advantage expired, then the Lancers killed the rest of the second penalty without allowing a shot.
Pinkerton goalie Brendan Murphy stopped a flurry of shots in the final seconds during a Londonderry power play to keep the score 1-0 entering the second period.