Winter Sports Report: MUHS girls’ hockey
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union girls’ hockey team is coming off a 12-win season in which the Tigers were the top team in the state’s new three-tier girls’ hockey alignment.
In that alignment basically all the Division II teams play all the other teams in all the divisions once, and the top teams in the division then move up and compete in the D-I playoffs. The Tigers last year were one of those teams and ended up facing eventual D-I champion Essex in the first round of the playoffs.
Coach Matt Brush is not complaining about the alignment. The alternatives, he said, would be either a less challenging and rewarding schedule or a forced move to D-I for a team with nine 10th-, 9th- and 8th-graders on its roster.
“I think it makes for a great regular season. I know it’s tough to swallow in a championship-driven world, but I’d rather have 20 really strong games that we compete in night-in and night-out,” Brush said. “I’d rather have the hybrid.”
And he believes the Tigers will battle well in every game, even if knocking off D-I powers such as Essex and BFA-St. Albans might remain a tall order.
To start with, the Tigers should generate plenty of offense. Senior Taylor Moulton will anchor one line in the middle, with senior Merry Kimble and junior Camille Malhotra as the wings. Both Kimble and Malhotra scored in the Tigers’ opening win, with Moulton picking up an assist.
Youth will be served on the second unit, with sophomore Avery Gale at center and 8th-graders Bella Gale and Avery Tucker at the wings. Bella Gale scored twice in the Tigers’ opening win, and both of her linemates picked up assists. Brush noted both 8th-graders are coming off Middlebury Amateur Hockey Association seasons in which they were prolific scorers.
Senior veteran Anna McIntosh will center a third unit with sophomore Kenene Otis and 8th-grader Erin Mulcahy, who assisted Kimble’s goal in her varsity debut.
Senior Izzy Pistilli and junior Audrey Schnoor will make up one defensive pairing, and sophomore Ryley Olsen and freshmen Hana Doria the other. Freshman Nyna Cole will rotate in on defense.
Brush acknowledged the youth in the back, but said he saw steady progress in the preseason and even during the opener.
“We’re pretty inexperienced in the defensive end,” Brush said. “As the season goes on we’ll continue to get stronger. They’ll get more confidence in their decisions and some of the expectations.”
Junior Lydia Deppman returns as the primary goalie, and Brush said freshman Claire Bruley has volunteered to learn the job.
Overall, Brush is expecting another enjoyable and productive campaign.
“We should have good success in Division II and III. Division I should be a challenge,” Brush said. “In general I think we’ll compete.”
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