WATERBURY — The Harwood-Northfield girls hockey team picked up its seventh victory Wednesday by skating past defending Division II champ Missisquoi, 3-0.
The Highlanders’ only losses have been against the state’s two undefeated teams: Burlington-Colchester and Spaulding. The cooperative team features players from four area schools and has been one fire recently. Representing the team are seven athletes from Harwood, four from Northfield, four from Randolph and two from Williamstown.
In the opening five minutes, Harwood goalie Kaylee Thayer was forced to sprawl out and stop a couple of close rebounds by MVU. The visitors showed no indication any bus legs after the long ride from Highgate. Harwood created some good scoring opportunities in the first period, with Reece Clayton just missing on a re-direction off a Hailey Brickley shot. The Tide also missed out on a hard shot from defensemen Eva Joslin. Missisquoi goalie Madison Conley (48 saves) stopped 16 shots in a scoreless first period. The Thunderbirds’ best early scoring chance was when Brianna Parent broke loose for a shorthanded breakaway. Thayer got a pad on the shot and deflected it wide.
The Highlanders drew first blood when Clara Griffin’s hard work paid off 40 seconds into the second period. Kailie French assisted the goal.
“I was in the corner near the back of their net,” Griffin said. “I didn’t really see anyone open, so I decided to go for a backhander, and it went between the pads. It was awesome. The goal set the tone for the whole game.”
The Highlanders continued to pressure and direct shots on goal, but Conley stood tall. Olivia Kaplan, Rachel Fernandez, and Clayton all generated scoring chances, but Harwood couldn’t add to the lead despite outshooting MVU 23-7 in the period,. Missisquoi opened the third period on a power play, but the defensive crew of Joslin, Brickey, Lyric Smith, Nicole Pappas and Molly Vacavoni forced only outside shots on Thayer.
“I’m very pleased where our goaltending is and I’m very pleased where our defensive corps is,” Harwood coach Mike Vasseur said. “They play so well together and they play hard. I’m proud of our offense and how they’re going now. We’ve had over 100 shots on goal combined over the last two games. We’re not scoring a lot, but we’re creating opportunities And that’s important. We had chances to score more goals tonight, but couldn’t put it in. Their goaltender made some great saves.”
Louisa Thomsen gave Harwood some breathing room midway through the third period when she used her speed to break in cleanly on Conley for a backhand goal. Griffin scored her second goal o late in the third period when she lifted the puck over a sprawled-out Conley. Thayer recorded her second straight shutout while stopping 22 shots.
“After the game in our celebration huddle, while congratulating each other, we all said, ‘Guys we did it We became a family,’” Griffin said.
Harwood (7-2) will travel to play Brattleboro on Saturday. Missisquoi (3-3-1) will host Woodstock the same day.