NHIAA Girls' Hockey: Hanover rolls into 9th straight finalBy ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 07. 2018 12:17AM
PLYMOUTH — It is not easy to reach an NHIAA state championship game. The Hanover High School girls’ hockey team just makes it look that way.
The eight-time defending champion Marauders cruised to a 5-0 semifinal victory over Bishop Brady/Trinity/Manchester West Tuesday night at Hanaway Rink to reach the title game for a ninth consecutive season.
Second-seeded Hanover will play top-seeded Exeter for the title in a rematch of last year’s championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. at SNHU Arena in Manchester.
The Marauders (17-2-1) scored more goals than third-seeded Bishop Brady/Trinity/West (16-3-1) had shots on goal. Hanover outshot Bishop Brady/Trinity/West, 10-0, in the first period, 20-1 through two frames and 27-4 overall. Marauders junior Claire Yegian earned the shutout.
Hanover coach John Dodds said his team came in with a relentless mindset considering its depth advantage. Bishop Brady/Trinity/West’s top line of Sydney Herrington, Mary Anne Wiley and Lauren Trippiedi rarely leaves the ice. The Marauders roll three offensive lines.
Senior Briland Laycock, who Dodds said was sick on Monday, finished with a hat trick alongside an assist for Hanover. The tri-captain scored three of the game’s first four goals.
Hanover is unbeaten against New Hampshire opponents this season and has not allowed more than one goal in a game against an in-state foe.
Bishop Brady/Trinity/West almost weathered the Marauders’ first-period storm. Almost.
Laycock, who will play at Williams College next year, opened the game’s scoring with 1:25 remaining in the opening frame off an assist from classmate Cate Wagner. Wagner sprung Laycock on an odd-player rush and the latter proceeded to skate into the offensive zone and go top shelf on Bishop Brady/Trinity/West freshman netminder Emily Senko (22 saves).
“My line especially, we were just motivating each other so much on the bench,” Laycock said. “We had so many chances before and we just kept on pushing and we kept on getting those good rebounds but we knew eventually we’d put one in.”
Laycock followed up her first-period tally by scoring two of Hanover’s three second-period goals to complete the hat trick. Laycock gave the Marauders a 2-0 advantage when she scored 3:43 into the middle period. She scored her third goal from the slot following a centering pass from Wagner with 46.2 seconds left in the second frame to build a 4-0 Marauders cushion.
Sophomore defender Molly French logged Hanover’s other second-period goal on the power play with 5:39 left before the second intermission. Freshman Natalie Morhun capped the Marauders’ scoring 1:40 into the third period.
Bishop Brady/Trinity/West’s few offensive chances came via counter rushes or on its lone power-play opportunity, which came in the first period. The Marauders utilized a strong forecheck to pin their opponent in its own zone for long stretches in each period.
Despite the noticeable goal and shot differentials, Bishop Brady/Trinity/West limited Hanover’s second-chance opportunities — clearing out many of Senko’s rebounds — behind stout defensive efforts from defenders Kate Shoemaker, Raelyn Roberts and Malena Miller.
Arguably Bishop Brady/Trinity/West’s best chance to score came on Trippiedi’s breakaway 6:17 into the period but her shot was turned away by Yegian.
“That’s a team that doesn’t stop and when you think you you’ve got an open-ice situation, there’s two girls coming,” Bishop Brady/Trinity/West coach Dan Earley said of Hanover. “They could give a college team a game. They really could.”
Herrington and Wiley, both seniors, never left the ice, alternating between playing forward and defense.
“It just means so much that we’ve been able to come this far this year,” Laycock said. “We’re so molded together as a team. We worked so hard for this.”
Exeter 4, Oyster River/Portsmouth 1: Exeter scored the final three goals in its semifinal bout to secure another shot at the Marauders in the title game.
Exeter took a 2-1 lead and a 15-6 shots advantage into the second intermission. The Blue Hawks (18-1-1) outshot fifth-seeded Oyster River/Portsmouth 26-11 overall.
Blue Hawks junior Sarah Gallo broke a 1-1 tie 6:39 into the second period with her backhanded goal that came on a breakaway. Teammates Megan Olszewski and Carissa Towlson (empty net) added insurance goals in the final frame.
“We were able, thankfully, to step up and take some control of some situations and make some plays,” Exeter coach Geoff Taylor said. “We were able to dictate some things and capitalize on opportunities and get the result that we wanted.”
Oyster River/Portsmouth (13-6) tied the score at 1-1 just 3:10 before Gallo’s go-ahead tally with a power-play goal from junior Tori Leitz.
Exeter senior Ashley Keaveney opened the game’s scoring 2:31 into the first period off assists from Hannah Beveridge and Olszewski.
Izzy Day made 10 saves for Exeter. Sallie Squire made 23 stops for Oyster River/Portsmouth.
“First and foremost, it’s good to get this one taken care of and it’s good to get back to the finals and it’s good to extend your season as far as you can extended it,” Taylor said. “Looking forward to playing Hanover. They’re the class of the league.
“That’s what you want, right? You want to play a great hockey game against a great hockey team heading into the finals so we like that matchup, for sure.”