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MUHS girls’ hockey cruises to 6-0 win; team is turning on the heat

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team enjoyed its home opener on Saturday, cruising to a 6-0 victory over visiting Missisquoi.
The win moved the Division II Tigers to 2-0, with both wins vs. D-I foes: They defeated host Colchester on Wednesday, 3-1.
The early results have the Tigers feeling optimistic, said defender and assistant captain Paige Viens, who believes MUHS will continue to improve.
“We feel confident,” Viens said. “We like to call it a soup, that’s our team. We’re adjusting the recipe. Right now we’re on simmer, but we’re going to start boiling.”
Co-Coach Tim Howlett said he is happy with all elements of his team. Six Tigers have already scored: Junior Angela Carone has four goals, while five other Tigers have a goal apiece.
On defense, Viens, sophomore Lauren Bartlett and Carone are the veterans, and they have been joined by three strong-skating newcomers: sophomores Sara Kelley and Tajah Marsden and freshman Julia Carone.
Meanwhile, junior goalie Bailey Ryan stopped 30 of 31 shots vs. Colchester and freshman Rowan Hendy debuted with an eight-save shutout on Saturday.
“The balance up and down the roster is just great,” Howlett said.
Still, the Tigers did not start strong vs. the T-Birds on Saturday. Neither team generated consistent puck movement or pressure in the first six minutes. MVU’s Amanda Conger, her team’s strongest skater, had the first good chance, but Hendy gloved her bid from the slot in the fifth minute.
MVU goalie Ashley Sweetser — a forward filling in for a goalie who is out for a couple games — stopped Tiger freshman Molly Wetmore from the slot a minute later.
But at 8:00, Angela Carone skated past a couple T-Bird defenders, and shot softly while pressured by a third T-Bird from about eight feet out. The pace fooled Sweetser (nine saves), and it slid home to make it 1-0.
Then the Tigers began to press. Sweetser did well to stop Julia Carone at the 11-minute mark, and then MUHS forced a power play at 12:32. Julia Carone converted the advantage with a strong wraparound move at 13:01, with Marsden getting the assist. The period ended at 2-0.
Howlett said he and co-coaches Matt Brush and Derek Bartlett told the Tigers between periods they expected more.
“The girls were a little slow at the start, and we kind of read them a little riot act after the first intermission about moving our feet and playing to win, and they responded nicely,” Howlett said.
By that he meant two goals in the first 4:26 and four total in the second period. After Lauren Bartlett broke up a Conger rush early on, Angela Carone made it 3-0 at 2:42 by knocking in a Harper Smith shot that deflected off a defender. At 4:26, Kelley’s screened shot from the top of the right-wing circle found the far corner, with Monroe Cromis assisting.
The Tigers scored their final two goals later in the period. At 10:02, Rachel Howlett found the inside of the right post from the bottom of the left-wing circle, with Angela Carone and Smith assisting, and at 11:05 Angela Carone converted a breakaway with a backhand move.
In the third period, Hendy preserved the shutout by stopping a Conger breakaway and later a Conger shot from close range and then Olivia Thayer’s rebound bid. Julia Carone also broke up a Rachel Lothian rush with a hustling back-check.
The Tigers — who play a two-forward, three-back system — scored six times vs. MVU without goals from their top pairings of Timi Carone and Sara Boe and Wetmore and Smith. But both of those duos figured in the 3-1 win at Colchester on Wednesday. Boe, Wetmore and Angela Carone scored, and Timi Carone set up Boe’s goal.  
Howlett said he was pleased with the Tigers’ response to the coaches’ challenge to improve their play on Saturday, the balanced scoring, and the play of the defense and goalies.
“We’re still a work in progress at this point, but we showed tonight we’ve got more than two or three lines that can skate,” he said. “I think we’re off to a decent start.”
Viens said she agreed, and that the Tigers can contend in D-II.
“We have the players. We have the skill. It’s just coming together on the ice every day,” she said. “I think we can be the best.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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