Essex High school girls hockey coach John Maddalena figured his young team would suffer growing pains this winter.
None hurt more than the Hornets’ 9-0 defeat to BFA-St. Albans a little more than a week ago.
“Nothing went right, from the goaltending to the defense to the offense,” Maddalena said. “It was just one of those days.”
It’s also a long regular season, one the Hornets hope to use every bit of to establish momentum and make a run at their second consecutive Division I title and fourth in seven years.
Essex (8-5-1), which has five freshmen and seven sophomores on its roster, bounced back from the BFA loss with wins over Missisqoi and Champlain Valley.
“We got some confidence back with the MVU game,” Maddalena said.
Essex’s top line of Taylor Hallowell, Kathleen Young and Melanie Theriault have clicked, but Maddalena has juggled his other lines. In two losses to Spaulding and the loss to BFA, the top two teams in the Metro Division seedings index, the Hornets didn’t score a goal. They’ll get another crack at each the next three weeks as the regular season winds down.
“We’re starting to get healthy now,” Maddalena said, “and hoping to put things together to make a run down the stretch.”
Pelkey steps up
Senior Ashley Pelkey has been on a offensive tear the last few games, scoring seven goals and adding three assists in the last four games. Her production has been key for Spaulding, which has lost only twice this season.
“She is getting in the right place at the right time,” said Spaulding coach Brad Bessette. “The puck seems to find her.”
Along with Pelkey’s hard work, Bessette credits the strong presence of her linemates, Beth Scott and Julia Ormsby, as key to the senior’s offensive production.
“Those two are really good at forechecking,” Bessette said. “All three players work really hard. (Pelkey) also works well with our defenseman who are more offensive.”
Pelkey is one of seven seniors playing for Spaulding this year and the coach expects her to keep up the scoring.
“She had a pretty good year last year. She is one of our seniors and we expect a lot out of all of them,” Bessette said. “She needs to keep doing the same stuff and provide leaderhsip.”