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March 05. 2013 9:56PM

Div. I Girls' Hockey: Oyster River, Hanover advance to girls' final


Bishop Guertin's Brittany Levasseur, left and Brianna Birmingham celebrate a goal moments before the end of the first period with Hanover's Caroline Howell looking towards the puck during the NHIAA semifinals held at the Everett Arena, on Tuesday in Concord. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
CONCORD - Junior dynamo Sandra Strogen scored both goals in the second period, and Oyster River of Durham stole a 2-1 victory against Lebanon in the NHIAA girls' hockey semifinals on Tuesday night.

"Stole" isn't too strong of a word. Coach Jamie Long admitted as much after Lebanon outshot the Bobcats, 23-14, at Everett Arena. The third-ranked Bobcats (15-4-1), however, played penalty-free and won enough 50/50 pucks to hold off Lebanon.

Oyster River advanced to Saturday's Division I championship to face Hanover at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester at 10 a.m. Top seed Hanover beat No. 4 Bishop Guertin, 4-2, in Tuesday night's other semifinal.

The second-ranked Raiders, who took a 1-0 lead on Christina Drake's goal in the second period, ended the season at 13-4-2.

"We might be the underdog, but we have a lot of heart," Strogen said. "We're so excited to be going back to the Verizon. We're not the most skillful team, but we've proven that we can compete with anybody."

Strogen didn't sell popcorn or play goalie, but she did everything else in the semis. Offense. Defense. Shooter. Blocker. Inspirational leader. She didn't leave the ice for the final 2 minutes, 47 seconds, while anchoring the blue line.

With 1:45 remaining, Strogen dropped back on defense and broke up a dangerous two-on-one rush by Lebanon's Amelia Gage and Drake.

"Sandra was as good as anybody on the ice tonight. She's a special player. She's been a real leader as a junior. I'm lucky to have her," Long said.

Referees let the girls play, often keeping the whistle in their pocket. While Lebanon fans voiced their displeasure at several no-calls, Long could see how the physical style of play was working in OR's favor.

"These referees understand the game. If two good, physical teams are playing and two kids are going for the puck, and it's a collision, it's not a penalty," Long said. "We have to play physical. We're not as skilled as Lebanon. I'll be the first one to tell you that. That game could've gone either way. In some ways, I feel we stole it, but that's the way hockey goes."

Drake put Lebanon on the scoreboard 5:25 into the second period. Loren McEwen and Gage earned assists. Two minutes later, Strogen scraped the puck off the boards and worked a shot past Lebanon goalie Erika Moffitt (12 saves).

With 1:46 remaining in the second period, Strogen slipped a shot between the pads of Moffitt for the go-ahead goal.

"I play aggressive defense and sometimes take chances on the other end. I like taking risks. If you don't, nothing will come out of it," Strogen said.

Oyster River sophomore goalie Emily Croot made 22 saves, including a pair of saves off her mask in the third period.

"She stood on her head. You couldn't ask for anything more. Just look at the shot differential," Long said.

Oyster River returned to the final for the second time in three seasons.

Hanover 4, Bishop Guertin 2: Undefeated Hanover dominated the second period and defeated upset-minded BG, 4-2.

Eliza Laycock scored twice in the decisive second period, and Sarah Wagner scored the go-ahed goal as Hanover (19-0) took control.

Brittany Levasseur scored the game's first goal, a shorthanded tally in the first period. Brianna Birmingham scored late in the second period for BG.

Division I semis

At CONCORD

Oyster River 2, Lebanon 1

Second period: L, Christina Drake (Loren McEwen, Amelia Gage) 5:25; OR, Strogen 7:29; Strogen 13:14

Saves: OR, Emily Croot 22; L, Erika Moffitt 12

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