Tiger girls’ hockey opens with a big win over BFA

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team, a Division I title contender in the past two winters, got off to a solid start on Tuesday, knocking off visiting D-I rival BFA-St. Albans, 5-2, in the Tigers’ season opener.
The Tigers outshot the Comets, 30-16; shrugged off BFA’s tying goal 17 seconds into the second period by ripping off the game’s next four scores; and avenged a 5-2 home loss to BFA in a D-I semifinal last winter.
Senior Monroe Cromis, whose three goals included an unassisted go-ahead score 59 seconds after the Comets tied the game, said the Tigers didn’t want to let BFA skate away with another victory on their ice.
“They are a big rival of ours,” Cromis said. “I think we were all determined to take the game from them. It’s our barn, so we played hard.”
Tiger Co-coach Matt Brush called the game a good starting point.
“We had great energy most all of the night. I’m happy with positional play for the most part. There were a few times in the first period where we were not playing our sharpest positional play, but it got better as the game went on, which is a good sign,” Brush said. “Overall, I thought all facets of the game were pretty good. We had some good power play opportunities, we had good penalty kills, the goaltending was strong when it needed to be in the first period.”
The Tigers controlled most of the early action with strong forechecking and began to pepper BFA goalie Madeleine Hungerford (25 saves). Tiger senior goalie Rowan Hendy also rose to the occasion, especially in the fourth minute, when she denied BFA senior Kait Laroe’s point-blank one-timer from the slot.
Thirty seconds later, at 5:02, the Tigers had the lead, thanks to Cromis’ first score and an assist from junior forward Andi Boe (two goals, two assists). Senior center Julia Carone picked up the second assist by working the puck to Boe below the left circle, and Boe slipped it across the crease to Cromis at the right post for a one-timer.
The Tigers kept pressing for a couple minutes, and junior forward Helen Anderson had two great chances, one a tip Hungerford stopped and one a one-timer she shot wide on a setup from freshman center Lexi Bartlett.
But BFA (0-2 against tough New York competition before Tuesday) came on strong in the period’s home stretch. Hendy made a strong blocker save on Emma Hill’s screened drive from the right circle, and the Comet’s forechecking drew a Tiger penalty with 1:52 left in the period.
The Tigers killed the penalty with ease, but right after it expired in the second period lost track of Laroe off the left post. Nine seconds after the penalty expired, Laroe was alone there when the rebound of McKenna Remillard’s shot from the right circle bounced to her. Laroe made no mistake, tying the game at 14:43 before Hendy had time to slide over.
Cromis made sure the lead was short-lived. Shortly after Anderson and junior forward Tulley Hescock just missed converting a two-on-one, Cromis won the puck behind the net, skated out on the left side and at 13:44 chipped a short backhand over Hungerford’s shoulder.
The Tigers then took almost complete control. Hungerford held the fort for a while, stoning Boe and Anderson on breakaways.
But she had no chance at 8:40, when Boe completed a crisp passing play on which Bartlett and freshman defender Kate Donahue each picked up their first varsity points. Donahue threaded the puck through traffic to Bartlett at the left dot, and Bartlett relayed quickly to Boe out front, who finished near side from close range to make it 3-1.
The Tigers kept coming, and Hungerford twice stopped Anderson from the slot. A shot from Tiger junior back Raven Payne also hit a defender and deflected off the top of the crossbar.
The Tigers padded the lead early in the third. Boe won the puck in the left corner, reversed direction to shake a defender, circled the net clockwise and wristed the puck home at 13:23.
Shortly afterward, junior Tiger defender Abby Gleason (she and fellow junior back Satchel McLaughlin made solid plays all game) cleared a puck off the line behind Hendy.
At 10:22, Cromis, at the right post, completed the hat trick. She used a skate to control a Boe pass from the right circle and wristed the puck home, with Bartlett earning the second assist.
BFA scored at 11:11, when Remillard skated from the right point through the Tiger defense and flipped a backhander home from close range.
Brush said he expects those occasional lapses — such as that final goal on defense, a tendency to make a dangerous cross-ice pass at the offensive blue line, and some issues with the breakout from the Tigers’ end — to get ironed out through the course of season.
“We’ll get better,” he said. 
Brush was happy with the many tape-to-tape passes, strong defensive plays, team chemistry (“There was a good vibe on the bench.”) and successful battles for the puck.
“If this is a good sign of how we’re going to play loose pucks through most of the season, then we’ll be in good shape,” he said.
Cromis said the Tigers are excited to see what the season will bring them.
“We’ve got a big season ahead of us,” she said. “So we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and it’s a good place to start from.”

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