Tiger girls claim Holiday Classic crown

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team followed up a tense win over rival Rutland on Friday by coasting past Spaulding on Saturday to claim the crown of the Tigers’ own Fletcher “Buster” Brush Holiday Classic, played at the Memorial Sports Center.
Vs. the previously undefeated Raiders the Tigers scored twice during a five-minute first-period power play and hung on for a 4-3 victory over a Division I team that outshot them, 28-16. Sophomore goalie Lydia Deppman’s 25 saves and senior forward Aleta Mathers’ two goals were crucial in that result.
On Saturday the D-II Tigers defeated D-III Spaulding by 2-0 on the scoreboard, but the play on the ice told a different story — it looked like a 45-minute power play. The Tigers pelted Tide goalie Amber McGinley with 52 shots, and she stopped 50 of them. At the other end Deppman was rarely tested; she was officially credited with four stops against the 1-5 Tide.
MIDDLEBURY GOALIE LYDIA Deppman clears the puck away from Rutland forward Alexis Patterson in the first period of the Tigers’ 4-3 win on Friday.
Independent photo/Steve James
Coach Matt Brush was happy with the results, especially the grit his team showed against the 3-1 Raiders, but said after Saturday’s game the Tigers lacked the edge and efficiency to their play against Spaulding they will need against the better competition ahead.
“We had a really nice win against Rutland, and for us it was an emotional win. We always like to play Rutland. It’s always been a good rivalry, and for us to steal one there a little bit we were really excited,” Brush said. “And we came in a little bit flat for the start of this game. And it felt like at times we weren’t gelling as a team. The passes weren’t getting there, and it just felt a little disconnected.”
Brush credited McGinley’s effort, but said more patience and passing on the Tigers’ part could have made her life more difficult.
MIDDLEBURY’S TAYLOR MOULTON (16) passes the puck in front of the net in the second period of the Tigers’ 4-3 win over Rutland on Friday.
Independent photo/Steve James
“You’ve got to get a goalie moving, and we were satisfied with taking shots at her that she could see,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of screening. We didn’t have a lot of tip-ins.”
On the other hand Brush praised his forwards and defenders for their relentless work to keep Spaulding pinned in its own end.
“I thought our forecheck was pretty organized,” he said. “We kept them hemmed in for extended periods.”
Overall, Brush sees progress, and the potential for more.
“I think we’re winning the games we’re supposed to win, and I think we’re playing some of the teams that we think are good, we’re playing them tough,” Brush said. “I think we’ve done some good things. We’re a young team. I think we’re coming together. We have glimpses where things look really nice, and if we keep building and getting better every day, then at the end of the season, who knows?”
IN THIS LOOK at the Tigers’ third goal by Mathers vs. Rutland on Friday, the puck can be seen bouncing out of the net.
Independent photo/Steve James
A pivotal moment in Friday’s first-round game came in the first period, when the Raiders were assessed for a five-minute major for boarding from behind.
The Tigers took advantage to score twice with the extra skater, with Mathers using an assist from freshman forward Avery Gale and junior forward Izzy Pistilli converting a feed from classmate Taylor Moulton, a center. 
The Raiders came back to knot the score on goals by Breanna Beauchamp later in the first and Alexis Patterson in the second period, but the Tigers closed the second period strong, with strikes from Mathers, assisted by junior Merry Kimble and freshman defender Carlisle Brush.
TIGER FORWARD ALETA Mathers (17) celebrates her go-ahead goal with Meredith Kimble (2) in the second period of the Tigers’ 4-3 win over Rutland on Friday.
Independent photo/Steve James
Rutland’s Isabel Crossman scored an unassisted goal in the third to make it 4-3, but Deppman and the Tiger defense locked down the victory. Goalie Amy Howard made 12 saves for the Raiders, who had earlier in December defeated a Colchester-Burlington team that had knocked off the Tigers.
The Tigers started peppering McGinley immediately on Saturday, but she denied dangerous bids by Kimble, Mathers, Brush and Gale in the opening minutes.
The seemingly inevitable occurred at 7:07, with Pistilli breaking the ice. Moulton won the puck in the left corner, skated behind and just past the net, and fed Pistilli out front. Pistilli slid an eight-foot shot between McGinley’s pads.
At 11:27 of the first period Kimble made it 2-0. Off a faceoff win Gale sent the puck to Mathers at the left point, and she stepped into the high slot and ripped a hard shot at the upper right corner. McGinley gloved it, but could not hold on, and Kimble rapped the loose puck home.
The Tide had one good look at goal late in the period. Analie Choquette took a feed from the right side just off the left post, but Deppman (four saves for the shutout) reached out with her stick and disrupted the shot attempt. Choquette also missed wide from the slot in the third period, probably the Tide’s best chance.
DEFENDERS AUDREY SCHNOOR (18) and Hanna Doria (5) help Tiger goalie Lydia Deppman repel a Rutland attack in the Tigers’ 4-3 win on Friday.
Independent photo/Steve James
The rest of the game saw McGinley continue to make saves at a pace of more than one a minute, 20 in the second period and 17 in the third. Among the most frustrated were sophomore defender Audrey Schnoor and Mathers, who saw their breakaway bids denied late in the second and third periods, respectively.
Defensively, Schnoor erased several Tide breakouts, 8th-grade defender Hanna Doria hustled back to break up the final — and rare — Spaulding rush in the last minute, and Brush and freshmen Ryley Olson joined them as steady presences in the back and at the offensive blue line.
The Tigers next face a tough stretch of four straight D-I games: They host Essex on Wednesday at 7 p.m., and their next three games will be at Colchester-Burlington, South Burlington and Rice.

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