Thunderbirds upend Wasps on Senior Night

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HIGHGATE – Saturday’s Senior Night for the Missisquoi girls hockey team couldn’t have gone much better than it did.

Going  up against one of the top teams in the state in Woodstock, the Thunderbirds dominated all game long to send off seniors Mikayla Hull, Zoe Mewhinney, Brianna Walker, Olivia Thayer, Jenna Bourdeau and Alexys Tipper off with a big 4-1 regular-season finale win.

It was a big night for all the Thunderbirds, who played very well against one of the top teams in the state and came away with a decisive win.

By defeating Woodstock on Saturday, Missisquoi has wins against every team in Division II this season, including a win against top-seeded Rice in the first game of the regular season.

“Tonight was nice in a lot of ways with everything going on, but it was also nice to come away with a win against them because they were the only team we hadn’t beaten this season,” said Missisquoi coach Wynn Paradee. “We played pretty even with them down at their place, so we knew we could play with them and we came out with a lot of intensity right out of the gate and I just told them not to change anything after that start.”

It was also a special night for Thayer, who had 97 career points heading into the game.

She finished the game with a goal and two assists with her second assist coming in the third period for her 100th career point.

“It’s a great feeling to finally get to 100,” said Thayer after the game. “There was a lot of pressure, but good pressure to get there. Tonight was very special. I had some family members come out and some friends come from all around to see this game, and reaching this milestone at home, what more could you ask for?”

After dropping a 4-2 decision at Woodstock earlier this season, the Thunderbirds wanted to avenge that loss Saturday and wasted no time doing it.

Less than a minute into the game, Missisquoi put a lot of pressure on the Woodstock defense before Alyssa Audet picked up the loose puck in the slot and fired a wrist shot under the glove of Bridgit Black (25 saves). Mae Gates and Savannah Fellows picked up the assists on the goal.

Less than a minute later, Thayer skated the puck in the zone coming down the boards on the left side and fired her left-handed shot across the net and inside the post for the 2-0 lead before the game was two minutes old. Assists were awarded to Karley Zier and Callie Parks.

“This was a good game going into playoffs and we needed it,” said Thayer. “The quick start really set the tone for us the entire game and we just took off from there.”

Woodstock got a goal back midway through the first when Hannah Coates took a pass from Anna Hepler and took a shot that found its way through Mikayla Hull’s (three saves) pads.

That would be all the offense the Wasps would get, as the Thunderbirds defense and goalies were on point all game long.

The defense only allowed 13 total shots to reach their goalies and after Hull made three saves in the first period, Makyla Bombardier made nine in the final two periods.

“Makyla Bombardier had never faced Woodstock before, so we wanted to get her some time in there tonight, so we made the decision last week to split time,” said Paradee. “We are comfortable with both of them in net for us and they both did great tonight for us.”

Missisquoi found its insurance goal late in the second period. Thayer intercepted a pass in the neutral zone skated the puck in around the net and made a pass to Audet, who fired a quick shot into the back of the net for the 3-1 lead giving Thayer point No. 99.

It didn’t take long into the third period for Thayer to reach No. 100 with the crowd cheering every time she touched the puck ready to see her hit the milestone.

With the Thunderbirds on the powerplay, a scramble ensued in the slot with a couple of players getting touches on the puck. Parks ended with it and slipped the puck over to Adrianna Dostie, who buried her shot to give the team a big 4-1 lead.

After the officials got together to figure out who got the secondary assist, leaving the crowd and the Thunderbirds waiting to celebrate, it was decided Thayer got a touch on the puck before Parks, giving her the secondary assist and her 100th point sending both the crowd and the team’s bench into a celebration.

“I was just trying to keep calm when we were waiting to find out, because I didn’t want to start celebrating and then realize I didn’t get it,” said Thayer. “It was really exciting to hear the officials say I got the assist on the goal and to reach this milestone on Senior Night.”

Saturday was also a good opportunity for the team to grab some momentum heading into the playoffs after it suffered a tough loss at Stowe a week earlier in a game it could have won.

The Thunderbirds will most likely take the third seed into the Division II playoffs where they are lined up to host Harwood next week.

“We have been doing a lot of good things as a team recently,” said Paradee. “We had a rough game against Stowe last week where we had 42 shots on goal, but just ran into a hot goaltender. There are a lot of teams in these playoffs with very good goalies, so it should be an exciting postseason. I think we are in as good of shape as we can be going into the playoffs.

“It’s been a really fun season with this team with there being so many close games throughout,” he added. “This has been a great team and hopefully we can keep things going.”

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