Clutch goals sustain hockey win streak (2/11/10)

Feb. 11, 2010

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Just call her Magical Molly.

That’s Molly Howard, the leading goal scorer for Champlain Valley Union High’s girls hockey team. Howard enabled the 14-3-1 Redhawks to extend their victory string to six games with dramatic, late-game scores that provided home wins over Missisquoi Valley Union last Wednesday and Essex High on Saturday afternoon.

Howard and her teammates were scheduled to have their final regular season home game Wednesday night against Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans before closing out the campaign at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday against a strong, 14-1 Spaulding High squad in Barre.

Against Essex, the clock in the overtime 4-4 tie was clicking down to the final seconds and the Redhawks were shorthanded. But when the aggressive Howard somehow got control of the puck against the right side boards and edged ahead of a desperate defender to swoop in on the Essex net and deposit the game winner, the red light came on with just eight seconds left.

It was the CVU sharpshooter’s second goal of the game and her 28th of the season.

In Wednesday night’s magic show, Howard had gotten loose on a breakaway and scored with 5:02 left to play to snap a 2-2 tie and give the Hawks a 3-2 triumph over the Thunderbirds, who had trimmed CVU 7-3 in Highgate earlier in the season.

In nudging 11-5-2 Essex for the second time this season, the Redhawks had to come from a 4-2 deficit with under four minutes remaining in regulation to force the additional five-minute session.

Alyx Rivard gave CVU hope by knocking in a rebound from her own shot at 3:39. Rivard, who had a monster game on defense, had soared into Essex territory on one of her blistering charges up the ice.

“Alyx has been great for us all year,” coach Tom Ryan said after the game.

At 2:41, KK Logan scored from out of a crowd in front of the Essex net, assisted by Howard. It was Logan’s 18th tally.

With the score deadlocked, CVU got penalized with nine seconds to go in regulation and then again in overtime after the first penalty expired. Goalie Nicole Sisk came up big in the clutch, making five of her 19 stops.

CVU opened the game in fine fashion, Howard scoring on a breakaway and Amanda Armell unloading a hard slap shot from the top of the circle for her fifth score in five games and 12th of the season.

But the Hornets got back within 2-1 by the end of the period. With star forward Julie Pearl scoring twice and threatening on numerous other occasions, Essex took control of the game to lead by two until the Redhawks put together their late game bash.

Logan and Armell also scored in the victory over Missisquoi while Sisk made 24 saves.

CVU was without second leading scorer Sophia Steinhoff (20 goals), who was sitting out the first of a two-game suspension due to an on-ice infraction in the Missisquoi contest. Also missing with an injury was defender Amanda Lacaillade.