CONCORD — Top-ranked and unbeaten Hanover was tested early by No. 5 Bishop Guertin of Nashua, but a hat trick from sophomore Matti Hartman was more than enough offense in a 5-0 NHIAA girls’ hockey semifinal win at Everett Arena Tuesday night.
Hanover (18-0-0) will seek its fifth straight state championship Saturday morning at 10 a.m. when it faces No. 2 Berlin-Gorham (14-3-2) in the final at Verizon Wireless Arena. The Marauders have won five of the six NHIAA girls’ hockey titles since the sport became official. Bishop Guertin ended the season 12-8-0.
Hanover led 2-0 after two periods, breaking the game open in the third.
“Our goal was to dictate the pace and when you’re playing someone that’s just skating a couple of lines, they tend to wear out if you’re skating too,” said Hanover head coach John Dodds. “That’s always the goal, to keep the pace up and move the puck.”
Hanover got some breathing room 2:40 into the third period with a power-play goal to push its lead to 3-0. The Marauders moved the puck around the zone, culminating in a pass from senior Carolina Howell at the point to junior Margeaux Baker in the right circle for a wrister past senior Mia Vecchione’s glove.
Hartman scored her second goal of the game at 8:22 to extend the Hanover lead to 4-0. Senior Emily Acker set up the play with a pass across the top of the crease and Hartman finished with a shot from the right side.
Hanover senior goalie Emily Gougelet came in to play the final 5:12 in relief of junior starter Katie Fenton, who made eight saves. Gougelet made two saves and Hartman completed her hat trick at 11:22 to account for the 5-0 final.
“They’re very deep and they just wore us down,” said BG head coach Myia Yates. “They kept coming at us and kept coming at us. We had a couple chances and almost put the puck away. I’m proud of them. We fought hard and never gave up.”
Hanover took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Hartman got the goal, skating into the BG end and letting loose a slap shot from the slot to beat Vecchione high on the stick side.
“Her explosive speed, that first two other three steps usually separates her from pretty much everybody,” Dodds said of Hartman. “She’s got exceptional speed, but it’s that initial burst that really creates space for her.”
The Marauders added another goal in the second period, but could have had more if not for Vecchione. The shots stood at 30-7 in favor of Hanover after two periods. The Marauders peppered the Cardinal keeper but could manage only one tally.
That goal came with just 11.2 seconds remaining in the second. Hartman cut through the slot but could not get a backhand shot on net and the puck deflected to Sophomore Kelly Brigham, who snapped off a quick shot from the lower left circle to beat Vecchione inside the near post for the 2-0 score.
Vecchione kept Bishop Guertin in the game, making 38 saves. Not bad for someone who had never played the position before this season, having played basketball the previous three winters.
“She’s a great athlete,” Yates said. “Our goalie went to Worcester Academy so we needed a goalie and I told the girls to go find us a goalie otherwise we’re going to rotate through the team. They found Mia and Mia stepped up and did an awesome job for us all year.”