by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 2-13-2013
JAY — Though the visiting U-32 Raiders may have struggled throughout the season, they certainly brought their A-game to the Ice Haus at Jay on Saturday as they took on the home town North Country Falcons girls hockey team. In the midst of an ugly eight-game losing streak it seemed the Raiders (2-12) would prove little difficulty for the second-ranked Falcons (13-3-1). Earlier in the season the Falcons had shut out the Raiders 2-0.
“I don’t think this was a bad game for us,” North Country Coach Claude Paul said after the game. “They played a very good game as opposed to us playing down. Their goaltending was excellent tonight.”
Not three minutes into the game the Raiders would go ahead on a worm-burner scored by Rachel Ebersole and assisted by Stacy Woolaver. Backing up the early lead, Cheyenne Smith provided solid goaltending for the visiting team.
“We did have a lot of chances but we just couldn’t put them in,” Falcon Whitney Bernier said after the game. “We put a lot of pressure on their defense and their goalie. We just didn’t score.”
North Country did create plentiful opportunities, particularly on a pair of early power play chances in the first period. Though the Falcons moved the puck precisely and efficiently, the resulting shots were unable to get past Smith and her defenders.
The situation would take a turn for the worst in the second period as Raider Emily George banged home another goal past North Country’s Mikaella Doran to give U-32 a 2-0 lead. A game that had started as a North Country win all but for the playing was suddenly in serious jeopardy.
Twenty-two seconds later, Falcon Taylor Morley responded with a sweet wrap-around goal to cut the Raiders’ lead in half and steal momentum away from U-32.
“Her goal was huge,” Bernier said. “Taylor came back and got us a goal. It really pumped us up.”
The euphoria was somewhat short-lived. North Country had regained momentum and gone on the offensive when first Savannah Alberghini-Giroux and then Emily Doty took trips to the box.
“We got into a little penalty trouble in the second,” Coach Paul said. “That was really the only bad thing I had to say about how we played out there tonight. I talked to the girls about it in the locker room.”
“We had a big conversation about it,” Bernier said. “We knew if we wanted to win we had to stay out of the box. If we did that we’d get our chances.”
Those chances came soon after. At 1:10 into the third period Bernier converted passes from Jenna Moss and Adrianna Fournier into the equalizing goal. Time and again the Falcons would swarm the Raiders’ zone only to be turned aside. In a conclusion worthy of the caliber of hockey both teams presented, Bernier took a pass from Corrina Cota and buried it in the net with 12 seconds left on the clock to put North Country ahead for the first time in the game.
“Getting that goal felt great,” Bernier said. “They really made us work for the win.”
The Falcons return to action on Saturday, February 16, at 5 p.m. with a match against Brattleboro in their final home game of the regular season. The Falcons conclude their regular season with away matches against Rice Memorial on February 20 and Harwood Union on February 23.
contact Richard creaser at [email protected].