MONTPELIER — Kiley McClure’s hat trick led the CVU girls hockey team to Saturday’s 6-4 victory over U-32.
“I think we came out and played a pretty solid game,” McClure said. “Our big focus this year has been playing a full three periods of hockey and I think we’ve been improving with that. Having a very consistent effort throughout was definitely something good. And we saw that with the big number on the scoreboard today.”
U-32’s Allie Guthrie opened the scoring 1:42 into the first period on a solo effort against CVU goalie Emma Rashford. The Redhawks equalized when Payton Skillen scored 24 seconds later. CVU created multiple chances to add a second before the end of the first, including a point-blank shot toward the right side of the Raiders’ net. But stellar goaltending by U-32’s Brianna Rich kept the score knotted at 1.
“We’ve been fighting some illnesses and sicknesses around our team,” U-32 coach Larry Smith said. “We played alright in the first period and struggled in the second. Then we came back and fought in the third.”
CVU’s Kayleigh Bushweller gave the Redhawks the lead 38 seconds into the second period, assisted by Nicole Wright and Skillen. U-32 had a chance to even the score at the 4:14 mark with a shot toward the bottom-left corner, but the puck glanced off the post. CVU extended its lead 18 seconds later, with McClure scoring in traffic. Sabina Brochu notched the assist. McClure, assisted by Brianna Brosseau, added another goal with 5:51 to go in the period for a 4-1 lead.
U-32 kept fighting despite the deficit, and with 2:01 left in the second period Cece Curtin turned right and fired a long shot into the upper-left corner. Renee Robert assisted, closing the gap to 4-2. The Raiders scored again 36 seconds later, as Robert flicked the puck toward the Redhawks net after collecting a pass from Jenna Mekkelsen. The shot bounced off a player and deflected into the air before slipping past Rashford for a goal.
“You’ve just gotta have the kids stay focused,” CVU coach Scott Bushweller said. “Because sometimes when they get goals scored against them, they try to do it themselves and do it individually. They’ve gotta stay as a team and pass the puck.”
CVU stymied U-32’s efforts for a comeback a minute into the third period when McClure completed her hat trick with a perfectly placed shot to the upper-left corner. Skillen scored on an assist by Brosseau 1:42 later. Robert scored one more goal, weaving through traffic before firing the puck into the top-right corner with 9:50 to go.
“I was very happy with how they played,” Bushweller said of his players. “We’ve been focusing really a lot on passing and receiving and being successful with the puck. Earlier in the season, we had a low percentage of success when we’re passing and receiving the puck. So we spend a lot of time on that in practice now and that percentage has gotten higher.”
CVU’s defensive standouts included Caroline Reynolds, Flynn Hall and Nicole Wright. U-32’s top defenders were Mekkelsen, Cadence Burgess and Payton Kurrle. Emily Frazier and Elizabeth Guthrie also saw defensive minutes for the Raiders. U-32 goalie Rich made 40, while Rashford made 13 saves. The Raiders and Redhawks each spent six minutes in the penalty box.
“All in all,” Smith said, “I thought we had a good game,” Smith said. “Defensively, we’ve been playing really well, so I’m not really concerned about this particular game. There’s a few things that we’re probably going to work on in practice — maybe a little stronger on the stick — but besides that I think the girls really didn’t give up.”