Girls hockey faces strong opponents1/15/09

Jan. 15, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

“They played tough tonight,” were the words of Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey coach Tom Ryan after his team’s late, 2-1 loss Saturday to undefeated Spaulding High of Barre.

The Redhawks led 1-0 into the second period of the game, played at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, and held a 1-1 deadlock late into the third stanza before falling to the 9-0-1 Crimson Tide.

It was the first of a four-game stretch against opponents with winning records for CVU (4-5-1), which had an engagement after press deadline on Wednesday night against 7-3-1 South Burlington High. The Rebels nudged the Redhawks 4-2 in early December, snapping a 2-2 tie in the closing minutes.

This Saturday, coach Ryan’s skaters will take on Colchester High (7-5 entering the week) at Burlington’s Leddy Park, starting at 8:50 p.m. Then it’s exam week before a home tilt with 7-3-2 Middlebury Union a week from Saturday.

“The league is really very well balanced this season,” Ryan noted.

His Redhawks proved his point against the Tide. For a while it appeared that a first period goal by Maggie Ryan (her sixth of the season) and the always stellar goaltending of Nicole Bonneau would be enough to get past Spaulding. Molly Howard drew an assist on the score.

With 5:32 left in the second period, however, the Tide’s Nicolette Gosselin scored from a pile-up in front of Bonneau after the goalie had made three quick stops during a Spaulding whack-a-thon.

A little more than a minute later, the Redhawks had a great chance to get the lead back as Spaulding drew a pair of penalties. CVU stormed the Tide side but, despite some solid shots by Ryan, Howard and Alyx Rivard, the Redhawks were unable to dent the net.

In the third period, CVU got some strong rushes by Gillian Shelley and Emmaleigh Loyer, among others, deep into Spaulding ice, but efficient Tide defenders generally kept CVU shooting tries at a minimum. The Redhawks got only three of their game total 12 shots on goal in the final period.

The visitors got the game winner with just 3:15 left. Abbi Bailey from the left corner fired the puck in front of the CVU cage and Lauren Kwasnick swooped in to deposit the puck behind Bonneau, who had no chance.

Bonneau had 26 stops for the Redhawks and is nearing the 2,000 mark in career saves.

A game with Essex High, postponed a week ago Wednesday due to a school snow day, has been rescheduled for Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m.