CONCORD — Freshman Shaeleigh Valliere scored with 28.4 seconds remaining to lift No. 2 Berlin-Gorham to a 2-1 win over No. 3 Lebanon in girls' NHIAA ice hockey semifinal play at Everett Arena Tuesday night.
The win pushed Berlin-Gorham (14-3-2) into Saturday's state championship game at 10 a.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena against the winner of Tuesday's late game between top-ranked Hanover and No. 5 Bishop Guertin of Nashua.
Valliere started the game-winning play with a steal at center ice, then banked the puck off the left wing boards to get around another defender before snapping a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Raiders junior goalie Erika Moffitt high glove-side just under the bar.
"I tried the best I could to avoid all the defensive players and I shot and it went in," Valliere said. "I went high but I didn't really pick a spot for it. I just wanted to get it on net anywhere. It was a good feeling."
Lebanon (13-6-1) pulled Moffitt for the ensuing faceoff and generated some pressure in the Berlin-Gorham end in the final 28 seconds, but could not score the equalizer.
"Definitely some sweating," said Berlin-Gorham head coach Tanya Rosenberg of the final ticks. "But the girls never gave up. They worked as a team and never gave up."
Lebanon head coach Brad Shaw said he felt his team gave everything it had.
"When you give up a goal that late in the game you realize you only have 28 seconds to make it happen for you. The girls did a good job," he said. "We took our goalie right off the ice and got some offensive push but we just couldn't squeak it through."
Lebanon had tied the game at 1-1 at 10:58 of the third period. During a scrum in front of the Berlin-Gorham net, the puck bounced around the crease as players piled up, eventually slipping into the goal before sophomore goalie Chelsey Caron could cover it. Senior Micaela Schones got the goal off an assist from Emma Forman.
"Lebanon has always played hard," said Rosenberg. "They always go hard to the puck. We knew coming into the game it was going to be tough and not going to be easy. Last time we played them was a 1-1 game. They never give up."
Berlin-Gorham took a 1-0 lead at 5:29 of the first period. An initial shot from the point hit traffic in front and trickled toward Moffitt. She was not able to cover the puck and it was picked up by sophomore Jenna Arguin on the left side for a quick tuck-in behind Moffitt. Rylie Binette and Emma Shoenbeck had the assists.