by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 3-8-2013
JAY — The North Country Falcons girls hockey team displayed the skills that made them the number two seeded team in the Lake Division with a 5-0 win over the visiting Stowe Raiders at the Jay Peak Ice Haus on Wednesday night, March 6. The Falcons dominated Stowe throughout the regular season recording three shutouts. Wednesday night’s game marked the fourth shut out against the Raiders and the Falcons’ tenth of the 2012-13 season.
Coach Claude Paul downplays any suggestion that drawing Stowe was in any way a lucky break for the Falcons.
“You don’t become the number two team by being lucky,” he said. “The girls worked hard all year to earn their position.”
“We’ve been running after Stowe all year,” sophomore Taylor Morley said after the game. “We know how to attack them and we set the pace early. Last season we were neck and neck all year long so it was nice to have the season we did against them this year.”
Despite blanking the Raiders in all four contests, Coach Paul gave Stowe goaltender Danielle Mayo props for her performance. She has proven a talented and challenging opponent for the Falcons. Her 37-save performance on Wednesday proved as much.
“She’s one of the top goalies in the league,” Coach Paul said. “Tonight the puck luck just happened to go our way. We had some good chances and were able to follow through.”
The Falcons’ Mikaella Doran turned aside ten shots in the shutout victory.
Those chances came as a result of a relentless assault on the Raiders’ defensive zone. The Falcons were relentless in taking the puck to the net and quickly clearing the neutral zone. That offensive push enabled Whitney Bernier to record the opening goal of the game at 9:31 of the first period.
Bernier’s goal would later prove to be the deciding goal though the Falcon offense did not stop there. North Country would add three more goals in the second period alone on tallies from Savannah Alberghini-Giroux, Morley and Bernier’s second of the night. Cassidy Webster would record the final goal in the third period to cap off the Falcons’ five-goal explosion.
The victory was a good start for the Falcons as they seek to capture the Lake Division title. Coach Paul said that his primary job at this point is to channel his players’ enthusiasm and energy game by game.
“I told them it’s a short road they need to travel,” he said. “Three games, now two, so they should give it all they have. You want to carry that intensity into every game because each game is a new game.”
The pressure of both the playoffs and their solid season has not gone unnoticed by the players, Morley said. On the heels of a solid campaign the expectations from the fans, their parents and themselves have achieved new heights during this playoff run.
“There’s definitely a lot more pressure now than at the start of the year,” Morley said. “When people see you win they expect you to keep winning. We know that we can win and we push ourselves every practice, every game to be the best we can be.”
The Falcons return to action on Saturday afternoon hosting visiting sixth-seeded Middlebury with a 2 p.m. start at the Ice Haus. North Country was a perfect 2-0 against Middlebury during the regular season.
Contact Richard Creaser at [email protected]