Tiger girls’ hockey sneaks past Stowe in double OT thriller

MIDDLEBURY — It took until 1:22 of Saturday’s second overtime at the Memorial Sports Center, but the top-seeded Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team earned its berth in the Division II final with a 2-1 win over No. 4 Stowe.
That’s when Tiger senior forward Sara Boe cashed in the 55th MUHS shot of the game, 53 of which Raider goalie Danielle Mayo turned aside.
Boe banged home the rebound of a bid by fellow senior Timi Carone, a play that happened so fast she said she barely recalled it.
“Honestly, I don’t fully remember it,” Boe said. “I just saw an opening in the net and tried to poke it in.”
But what happened next is the stuff of lifetime memories. The packed stands erupted in cheers as Boe’s joyous teammates mobbed her and the rink workers cued up the Tigers’ victory music.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “It was awesome.”
The 18-3-1 Tigers will face No. 2 Burr & Burton (17-3-2) on Wednesday at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House. They will be seeking the program’s first state title. Game time for the D-II final is 6 p.m., and it will be broadcast on WVTK-FM 92.1.
The Tigers and Bulldogs split two games this winter, each winning at home. Burr & Burton prevailed on Dec. 21, 3-2, and MUHS won on Feb. 19, 5-2.
Tiger coaches Tim Howlett and Matt Brush said the Tigers would have to be play well, but the won’t make any tactical changes.
“We’re going to have to stick to our guns and stick to our game plan,” Howlett said.
Brush noted that Gutterson, like Burr & Burton’s home ice, has a larger surface than the Memorial Sports Center, and the Tigers will have to be careful.
“We’re going to have to get accustomed to the big ice up there and hopefully keep them contained a little better than when we played them down in their rink,” Brush said.
Boe said the Tigers would be ready.
“We’ll just bring our A game, just play a solid game of hockey and do the things we’ve done all season,” Boe said. “We don’t want to be overconfident, but we’re definitely feeling good.”
First, they had to get past Stowe — and Mayo, who the Tiger coaches said could play for virtually any hockey team in the state, regardless of gender.
The Tigers converted one of their first chances. Carone gloved down an attempted clear at the top of the left-wing circle, and her screened shot beat Mayo to the far corner with 2:18 gone. Boe and defender Tajah Marsden earned assists.
Then Mayo started racking up saves at about a one-a-minute pace, 47 in regulation: She stopped deflected shots from the points, wraparound bids, one-timers from the slot, and everything else the Tigers threw at her. Her best work in the first came against Sarah Kelley, Julia and Timi Carone (twice).
In the second period, Mayo stoned Alli White from out front and the high slot, bids by Timi Carone from the high slot and on a partial breakaway, rebound bids by Boe and Timi Carone, and a point-blank backhander by Julia Carone.
Her sheet-of-plywood imitation continued in the third with denials of another Julia Carone close-range backhand, Marsden in the slot, Kelley from the slot and on the rebound, and Paige Viens from the point. The Tigers went on a power play at 6:26, and Mayo stopped Angela Carone three times from close range.
But the Raiders began counter-attack as the period wore on. Tiger goalie Baily Ryan, who stopped 12 of 13 shots, turned aside bids by Ricki Haab, Alexis Turner and Kelli Grimes.
“We started off wonderfully well at the start of the game, good pressure, good opportunities,” Brush said. “Second period, I thought it was a little more of the same. Third period, I thought we got a little tense. We got a little nervous that it was only a 1-0 lead.”
Stowe equalized after the Tigers turned the puck over at their own blue line, and Turner set up Grimes for a breakaway that she converted at 11:29.
In OT, there was an eight-minute period without the ice being fixed, and then the second session. The Tiger defense — Viens, Molly Wetmore, Marsden and Lauren Bartlett have the most defensive responsibilities in the three-back system — did not allow a shot on Ryan in either.
Mayo did well to stop a Harper Smith deflection in the first OT, but the Tigers broke through 1:22 into the second session. Howlett said the coaches appreciated the way the Tigers answered the OT challenge. 
“I’m thrilled with how the girls dug deep in overtime and got the job done,” he said. “It felt like we kind of started to coast in the third and had to pick it back up, but they responded and the veterans got it done for us.”
The Tigers got to Saturday by winning, 10-1, over No. 8 U-32 (4-16-1) on Wednesday. Eight Tigers racked up multiple-point nights, led by Julia Carone (two goals, two assists) Boe (two goals), and White, Kelley and Angela Carone (one goal, two assists apiece). Bartlett, Paige Viens and Monroe Cromis each contributed a goal and an assist, and Ryan stopped 13 shots.
But those 45 minutes and Saturday’s first 53-plus minutes would not have mattered if the Tigers hadn’t finally solved Mayo in overtime.
“Obviously, it wasn’t where we wanted to be considering we were ahead in the third period,” Boe said. “But we didn’t really have a choice, I guess. So we saw it as an opportunity to go out and make history, and that’s what we did.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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