Championship jitters? Naw, this was just another hockey game.
So said the Comets of BFA-St. Albans after a scoreless first period of the Vermont high school girls Metro Division hockey state championship against Essex at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening.
With that attitude in mind, the top-seeded Comets promptly packed all the game’s scoring into a span of 4 minutes, 6 seconds and rolled to their ninth title in 12 years, shutting out defending champion Essex, 3-0.
“We just talked about have fun and relaxing; it’s just another hockey game,” said BFA junior forward Danielle Schreiner of BFA’s second-period approach. “We worked together and did it the Comet way.”
Schreiner was right in the forefront of BFA’s scoring splurge, assisting on the first and third tallies and knocking in the second herself.
“Dani just loves to play. She loves to have a good time, love to shoot the puck and everybody feeds off her,” said BFA coach Luke Cioffi.
After the scoreless first, the Comets began the second on the attack, hemming the Hornets in their own end.
“We adjusted our forecheck and took away some of their breakouts. We got the turnovers at our blue line and we were able to generate some offense,” Cioffi said. “We were pretty disciplined in terms of making sure that we had three kids across the blue line, we weren’t checking too overly aggressive, just forechecking enough to get those turnovers.”
That also led to the Hornets’ first penalty and BFA’s Aliza Ellis jamming the puck past Essex goalie Victoria Gibson (20 saves) at 5:23.
“Aliza’s a big, solid freshman who allowed us to have three solid lines out there at all time that can play defense and can put the puck in the net for us as well,” Cioffi said.
Scoring first was pivotal in terms of keeping and generating momentum, Cioffi said.
“Mentally for us, mentally for them, whoever got that first goal after a tight first period got a little boost,” Cioffi said. “Against Victoria, who’s stopped us before, who’s played really well, we wanted just to get in front of her and cause some havoc. They weren’t pretty goals but they all went in.”
At 8:13, Schreiner beat Gibson to the far side for a 2-0 lead. Only 1:16 after that, Morgan Lamos converted another BFA power play and the game’s scoring was done.
“It was tough. We took a penalty, they were able to score a goal, actually two power-play goals that second period. It’s hard to play them full strength and when you’re a man down, it’s really tough,” Essex coach John Maddalena said.
The Comets, who had defeated the Hornets 9-0 in Essex but lost 3-1 in St. Albans during the regular season, completed the season with an 18-3-2 record. Goalie Shanley Howrigan earned the shutout with 13 saves. Lamos, Chelsea Elllis, Desiree Hurlbut and Jade Remillard contributed an assist each.
“Give them credit. We played hard, even the first period, even the third period, but let them get away from us in the second period,” said Maddalena of the 14-6-3 Hornets. “We struggled all year just because we’re young. They played with a lot of heart.”