by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 3-13-2013
BURLINGTON — Tuesday night’s Lake Division championship came right down to the wire as Harwood and North Country, the division’s top two teams, squared off at UVM’s Gutterson Field House. Hopes were high as the NC Falcons girls hockey team looked to cap off a strong season with the school’s first Lake Division title. On this night, however, it would be Harwood that would emerge with claims to the championship title with a 1-0 overtime victory.
“We’re both really good teams,” Falcon Anyas Morin said after the game. “It really could have gone either way. What we did this year was a big accomplishment, we really elevated our play.”
Tuesday’s contest was one of the more physical games of the season as the officials appeared content to let the players play and calling only the most egregious of offenses. One of the more obvious displays involved Harwood Highlander Hayley Martini poleaxing Morin behind the Falcons net.
“It was a little rougher than usual,” Morin said after the game. “I think everyone was a little excited, a little bit nervous and maybe we were hitting a little harder than we knew.”
Defense was the name of the game on both ends of the ice Tuesday night. Falcon Mikaella Doran turned aside 20 shots while her Highlander counterpart Siena Damon stopped 17 in Harwood’s winning effort. Both teams disrupted the other’s attack creating a melee in the neutral zone throughout much of the game.
“I think in the first period we had no flow,” Falcons Coach Claude Paul said. “We were barely surviving.”
The Falcons struggles showed as the Highlanders dominated North Country with 12 shots against Doran to the Falcons’ four shots on Damon. Though it took an entire period to acclimate, the Falcons showed signs of life in the second, matching Harwood with four shots apiece in the period.
“For the most part I think we battled hard,” Coach Paul said. “I think we had some grade-A scoring chances but were just not able to follow through.”
The Falcons entered the game with their sights set on the title, emerged with a runner-up banner and an experience they will be able to carry with them into next season. The growth in the team throughout the season, the camaraderie they formed molded them into a team in every sense of the word.
“There’s really no drama in the locker room,” Morin said. “We get along well on and off the ice and I think that’s why we work so well together. We didn’t go as far as maybe we wanted but we really stepped up our game.”
contact Richard Creaser at [email protected].