Thunderbirds’ defense holds strong over Raiders

 

HIGHGATE – Throughout the last six games, the Missisquoi girls hockey team has started to improve its game tremendously on the defensive side of the puck.

That trend continued Wednesday, as the Thunderbirds only allowed seven shots on net against Stowe, as they went on to a 3-2 victory at Highgate arena.

The win brought the team’s record to 4-0-2 in the last six games.

“Taking care of ‘Our House’ in front of the net is something we have been preaching all season,” said Paradee. “To only give up seven shots in a game is really nice, and you give yourself a great opportunity to win a game if you can give up 15 or fewer shots throughout a game. We had some areas where we still need to clean up, but it was a good game defensively.”

After a scoreless first period that saw Missisquoi only get off four shots and Stowe getting off none, things started to pick up in the second period.

The Thunderbirds offense erupted for 11 shots in the period and tallied three goals.

With the Thunderbirds up 2-1 in the period, Alyssa Audet (two assists) passed the puck into the right circle where Alexys Tipper beat a defender to the puck and slapped at the puck toward the net. The puck flipped through midair and caught Stowe goalie Andrew Jackman (18 saves) off guard as it went over her shoulder and in for what ended up the deciding goal.

Despite being outshot 21-7 in the game, the Raiders still had a chance in the third period. Darian Dubie received a pass from behind the net and put a backhand pass Thunderbird goalie Mikayla Hull (five saves) to make it a 3-2 game early in the third period.

“We were fortunate to be in this game late in the third period,” said Stowe coach Jeff Lively. “They were the first ones to the puck almost all night and that gives you options. They supported each other much better in their own zone than we did.”

With both teams continuing to trade possession throughout the period, it was Stowe that had the best opportunity down the stretch.

On a penalty kill, Leocadia Clark picked off a Missisquoi pass for a breakaway, but her shot just missed the net to keep it at a 3-2 game.

Missisquoi did enough down the stretch to kill out the clock and come away with its fourth win in a row.

“For half the game, we were aggressive and confident and pursuing the puck,” said Lively. “The other half, we didn’t do so well of getting to the puck and keeping it tonight. That’s kind of been our downfall all year. We are a young team, so that could have something to do with it, but until we find that consistency we are going to have a tough time against good teams like Missisquoi.”

The Thunderbirds wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the second period. Just over 30 seconds into the game, Brianna Walker picked up a rebound and knocked in the shot to start things off. Audet and Savannah Fellows picked up the assists on the goal.

Stowe tied things up three minutes later on the power play when Heather Walker received a pass from Callie Walker and put a wrist shot under the blocker of Hull to tie the game.

Later in the period, Karley Zier found a loose puck at the top of the right circle and put a shot on goal. The puck looked like it was saved by Jackman, but it slipped through her pads and into the net making it a 2-1 game.

Tipper added the late goal to make it a 3-1 game going into the locker room. Even with the three goals in the second period, Paradee thought his team could have had a lot more in the period, as it had a number of good looks at the net. A number of shots just missed the net throughout the game.

“I thought we could have had four or five goals in the second period,” said Paradee. “And it’s funny because two of the goals we scored on were really fortunate to go in with Karley’s goal sneaking through the pads and Alexys’ flipping over the shoulder of the goalie.”

Missisquoi finished the game 0 for 5 on the power play, which was something Paradee is hoping the team can shore up moving forward in the season.

“We just haven’t been scoring on the power play lately,” he said. “We’ve had some really good power plays and some good pressure, but until we start getting more power play goals and taking care of the penalty kill, special teams is going to be an issue, so we have to figure those out as the season goes on.”

The Thunderbirds improved to 6-2-2 on the season and will travel to Woodstock on Saturday.

Woodstock held a slight advantage over Missisquoi in the Division II standings heading into Wednesday’s games.

“We have another good test ahead of us this weekend,” said Paradee. “We have had a good stretch here where we have been getting a number of goal-scorers in each game and been playing well defensively. Hopefully, we can keep that going and have a good showing Saturday night.”

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