MONTPELIER — The U-32 girls hockey team claimed the first of two Central Vermont matchups this winter with Spaulding, skating to Saturday’s 4-3 victory over the Crimson Tide.

The cross-town rivalry showdown was previously a non-league game, but this season both teams are in the same division and will meet again at the end of the month in Barre. Spaulding got on the board first at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center on Annie Duprey’s unassisted goal.

“I think that goal caught us off-guard,” U-32 coach Larry Smith said. “I think we came out and wanted it more after that.”

The Raiders were playing without their leading scorer and one of the top players in Division II: Renee Robert. With Robert out of the lineup, someone needed to step up — and that player was freshmen Allie Guthrie. The Raiders tied it midway through the first period when Guthrie and Cece Curtin set up a goal scored by freshmen Morgan Ribolini. A minute later Curtin scored, giving U-32 a 2-1 lead after the first period.

Guthrie took over in the second period, using a combination of strength, speed and hard work along the boards to extend the lead to 3-1.

“It took us a while to get our legs going and get into the game,” Spaulding coach Dave Lawrence.

The Crimson Tide didn’t fade, and Morgan Mast’s unassisted strike brought Spaulding to within one goal. Late in the second period, it was Guthrie again taking a pass from Delanee Hill and putting the puck through the pads of Spaulding goalie Amber McGinley to increase the lead to 4-2. “It was really exciting for me because Spaulding is a rivalry,” Guthrie said. “And getting two goals made it that much better.” Smith was impressed by the play of Guthrie.

“She had an incredible game,” he said. “She’s a freshman and her hands are starting to show in maneuvering the puck. And tonight she had a great game.”

Playing from behind, the Crimson Tide didn’t give up a bit. When U-32 was whistled for two quick penalties, Spaulding converted on a 5-on-3 power play when Amanda Gerrish’s shot from the blue line went off the bar and past U-32 goalie Brianna Rich (20 saves).

“Our power play has scored in three straight games, and Amanda had a nice one tonight,” Lawrence said. “She got some space on the right wing and ripped one stick-side about a foot off the ice. It went off the post — a real nice shot.” The Raiders created a number of chances to extend the lead in the third period, including a couple of open shots by Guthrie. However, Spaulding goalie Amber McGinley (35 saves) was able to keep it a one-goal game.

“We put some good shots on (McGinley) in the third period,” Smith said. “She had a good game.”

The Tide had no chance to pull the goalie in the final minutes as U-32 controlled play in the Spaulding zone.

“We called a late timeout,” Smith said. “And our game plan was to keep the puck in the Spaulding zone, pin the puck to boards and kill time. We did a great job at doing that.” U32 (5-2-1) will travel to play Burr & Burton on Saturday.

“We’re working hard at practice, and it’s starting to show in the games,” Smith said. “I thought today we used our defense better than previous games.”

Spaulding (2-7) will travel to play Brattleboro on Wednesday.

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