For two periods of Wednesday’s game against Rice, the Missisquoi girls hockey team played strong and had a number of opportunities to take the lead just miss going into the net.
After playing two scoreless periods, things unraveled a bit for the Thunderbirds in the third period, as the Green Knights scored three times in the third to come away with the 3-0 win.
“I thought we played pretty tight with them the first two periods,” said Missisquoi coach Brian Fortin. “Unfortunately they scored early, and I feel like we have gotten into this rut where if we give a goal up, our mentality completely changes. We see the passing disappears and trying to do too much on our own.
“But that is still the best game we have played this season,” he added. “So we are progressively getting there.”
The Thunderbirds were called for a penalty early in the game and Rice put a number of shots on Madison Conley, but she was up for the task early.
The successful penalty kill gave Missisquoi some momentum and they shifted the ice in their favor getting some quality scoring opportunities through the rest of the first period and the second.
Three minutes into the second period, Brianna Jarvis had an excellent look at a one-timer in front of the Rice net, but the shot sailed just wide of the post.
A couple of minutes later, Brianna Parent took a hard wrist shot that hit off the goalies’ glove and went up in the air and settled in the crease where it was covered up. The scramble led to a Rice player being called for a five-minute charging major penalty giving the Thunderbirds a good opportunity to open up the scoring.
The Thunderbirds put some pressure on Rice goalie Emily McDonald, but couldn’t find the answer, as she stopped all seven shots on the powerplay.
“At the end of the day, we just didn’t capitalize on that powerplay,” said Fortin. “We had 16 shots and some nice looks, but just didn’t have the bounces today.”
Jarvis had a mini-breakaway late in the second that sailed just over the crossbar keeping it a scoreless game going into the third period.
In the third period, Rice started to find its answer, as Allison Walker skated into the zone a fired off a wristshot from the left circle that went top shelf for the 1-0 lead with the assist going to Fiona McHugh.
With just over five minutes to go, Rice found its other two goals in less than a minute. Kayleigh Coulombe sent a low shot in from the blue line that found its way through traffic and into the net with Vittoria Pizzagalli and Emma Schaarschmidt picking up the assists. Annabel Lekstutis made it 3-0 on a one-timer off a nice feed from Sunshine Clark.
“I thought Maddie Conley played another phenomenal game for us,” said Fortin. “On the first goal, most goalies aren’t stopping that shot. And then another went in through traffic and the last one hit off the far post, so those goals happen.
“We are still trying to figure out the best line combinations and the best combinations for that chemistry,” said Fortin. “We have been trying to mix things up and see what works best.”
One player that stuck out to Fortin throughout the game was Lora Fresn.
“I thought Lora had a great game,” he said. “I think the past two or three games have been some of the best games she has played throughout her high school career.”
It was another tough loss for the Thunderbirds, who fell to 1-5 on the season in the midst of a very tough regular season schedule with a lot of teams that will be playing in the Div. I tournament later this month.
Things won’t get easier, as they travel to BFA-St. Albans on Saturday for their next game.
“I’m not worried about what our record looks like at the end of the regular season,” said Fortin. “Two years ago, we won a state title and we finished the regular season 6-14. We have gotten better and we are playing only a couple of teams on our schedule that we will see in the playoffs. It would be nice to get back in the win column and get the girls’ confidence back up, but we have seen them all progressively get better, so we just have to put together a complete game.”