Girls’ hockey runs streak to five games
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team put the finishing touches on a 2-0 week on Friday evening by blanking visiting Burr & Burton, 4-0, behind strong defense and steady offensive pressure.
On Monday the young Tigers had defeated the North Country/Lyndon cooperative squad, 4-3 in overtime, with the team’s only senior, Aleta Mathers, netting the extra-time game-winner. Mathers also scored twice on Friday to cap a big week.
The Tigers have won five straight to improve to 9-5 and sit atop the Tier Two standings. But due to the set-up the hockey coaches agreed upon this season and Vermont Principals’ Association rules they will probably compete in the Division I playoffs.
The coaches adopted a three-tier regular season format in which all 18 girls’ hockey teams will play each other at least once. Tiger Coach Matt Brush said in an email that plan successfully enhanced regular season play.
But, he added, the VPA requires eight teams for postseason play, and with the Tigers atop the second tier (Stowe at 6-6-1 is in second), barring a late-season lull they look to be headed for the D-I, not the D-II playoffs.
Brush said nothing is set in stone, though.
“We have some tough games left,” he wrote.
SENIOR FORWARD ALETA Mathers fires past Burr & Burton goalie Lola Herzog for the Tigers’ second goal, just 12 seconds after Audrey Tembreull had tallied the first goal in Friday’s 4-0 home win.
Independent photo/Steve James
But the Tigers, who have freshmen and 8th-graders skating regular shifts or at least spotting in, are playing well. Brush had to leave immediately after Saturday’s win for a youth hockey gig, and assistants Duncan Rollason and Erin Robinson explained why.
“It’s hard work, having good practices, and learning from each game,” Rollason said. “We’re getting better every period. The third period has been our strongest the last few games.”
Robinson, who helps coach the back line, praised the work on Saturday the defenders — freshmen Carlisle Brush and Ryley Olsen, converted junior forward Merry Kimble and sophomore Audrey Schnoor made up the pairs. The Tigers allowed only eight shots on goalie Lydia Deppman in the shutout, while Brush picked up a goal and an assist.
“I felt very good about the defensive effort tonight. The defense was en fuego,” Robinson said. “They were on fire tonight. They were communicating with each other. They were supporting the puck.”
The defenders and Deppman did some of their best work in the first few minutes of Friday’s scoreless first period, as the Tigers took a few minutes to get settled in. Deppman made several sound position saves, and snatched one deflected puck out of the air.
The Tigers began to turn the tide, and Taylor Moulton, Avery Gale, Mathers and Brush all created chances in the period. Bulldog goalie Lola Herzog made good mid-period stops on Mathers and Gale.
The Tigers broke through with goals 12 seconds apart early in the second. Tembreull scored the first on a double deflection. Brush circled the net counter-clockwise and shot from between the circles. Isabella Pistilli first got a piece of the puck at the right side of the crease, and then Tembreull tipped it home at 2:11.
Immediately after the faceoff Mathers picked up a loose puck inside the BBA blue line skated to her left around a defender, cut back to her right in front of the net and tucked the puck between Herzog’s pads to make it 2-0.
MIDDLEBURY’S ALETA MATHERS celebrates after putting the puck in the back of the net for the Tigers’ second goal in Friday’s 4-0 home win over Burr & Burton. Mathers also tallied a goal in the third period.
Independent photo/Steve James
Herzog held up for the rest of the period with 13 of her 22 saves, including good stops on Brush, Schnoor, Mathers (a glove save from the slot), and Gale (who hit Herzog’s helmet at 7:00).
Early in the third Herzog stopped Mathers from the slot again, but couldn’t deny Brush shortly afterward. Brush, in the left circle, picked up a long rebound of 8th-grader Nyna Cole’s bid from the inside of the right circle, skated left-to-right through the slot, and slid the puck back inside the left post.
Herzog made a nice save on Anna McIntosh’s spinning forehand from the slot, but later couldn’t find Mathers’ blast through traffic from between the circles that wrapped up the scoring, with Gale assisting. Deppman made a strong stop on Bulldog Penelope Francomb with two minutes to go to preserve the shutout.
On Monday against NVC/Lyndon (7-7), Gale set up Mathers’ winning game-winning goal seven seconds into OT in the Tigers’ 4-3 win. Moulton scored twice for the Tigers, Camille Malhotra also found the net, and Deppman stopped 18 shots.
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