Repeating Performance: Hanover Girls Win Fourth Straight N.H. Hockey Title
Hanover juniors Emily Acker, left, and Caroline Howell hug each other following the Marauders’ 3-1 victory over Oyster River in last weekend’s championship game. (Valley News- Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover sophomore Margeaux Baker chases the puck to the boards in last weekend’s championship. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover freshman Eliza Laycock struggles to reach the puck against Oyster River. Laycock scored 18 goals over the season. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
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When it comes to girls hockey, Hanover doesn’t rebuild or lose a step. Instead, the Marauders just reload, sharpen their skates and continue to separate themselves from the rest of the competition.
If there was any thought around the state of New Hampshire that after graduating a trio of 100-point scorers plus a wealth of experience from last season’s championship club that it would slow the Marauders down this year... well, think again.
If anything, with just two seniors on this year’s roster, the Marauders may even be stronger. After completing a 21-1 season and topping that with their fourth straight state title, who’s going to argue?
“I’m not going to say this is the most dominant team I’ve ever coached,” offered Hanover coach John Dodds. “Two years ago, we ran the table, too.
“But what this year’s team had was a lot of balance and speed.”
Hanover was like the Godzilla of girls hockey, feasting on any and all opposition. Check out the numbers.
In a dominating statistical season, Hanover scored 113 goals — better than 5 per game. Matti Hartman led the way with 21 goals and 25 assists, followed by Eliza Laycock 18-13—31 along with Julie Montgomery (8-11-19) forming an all-freshman first line. Then came the Green Line with Sarah Wagner (16-13—29), Kelly Brigham (10-13-23) and Emily Acker (7-7-14).
With that kind of firepower, it was no surprise that Hanover went undefeated in state play.
Defensively the Marauders were equally stunning, allowing just 14 goals all year. Senior co-captain Katrina Menard — who was injured in the semifinal and missed the title game — and Caroline Howell formed the top defensive pairing and kept the crease clear for goalies Katie Fenton and Kelly Gaudet who shared the netminding duties and combined for 13 shutouts.
Margeaux Baker, Emma Malenka and Delia Nahabedian also did their part on the defensive end, adding experience and scoring from the backline.
Seeded into the semifinal round, the No. 1-ranked Marauders encountered a rare occurrence for this season — they found themselves trailing in the playoff opener, after giving up the puck in their own zone.
Would the adversity derail the title express? Hardly.
“I think we were a little down,” said Dodds, who just completed his eighth year behind the Hanover bench. “But we’ve got some leaders on this team. They kept their heads up. They’ve been in tough sports before.”
It didn’t take long for Hanover to regain the advantage. With underclassmen Laycock handling the scoring — a hat traick — and Fenton guarding the net — 13 saves — the Marauders shrugged off Bishop Guertin and went on to a 4-2 victory.
“They’ve got a lot of poise,” said Dodds. “It’s some girls that have played a lot of hockey, and they work. They’re all pretty well prepared.”
That preparation paid off in the finals. With the Green Line doing most of the damage — two goals and two assists — Hanover sliced up Oyster River, 3-1, for its fourth consecutive state title and fifth in the last six years.
“Defense was the key, and not just our defenders but everyone playing team defense,” said Dodds. “That was our No. 1 priority.
“We lost five of our top six scorers but four of our five defenders were returning, so we asked out defense to be more offensive minded, and they were.”
As it turned out, they couldn’t ask for anything more.