Raiders Gallop to Victory
Lebanon Races Into D-I Semifinal
Lebanon's Michaela Schones takes a shot on goal during Brady-Trinity at Lebanon girls hockey at Campion Arena in Lebanon, N.H., on March 7, 2014. Lebanon won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Fans and players react after a goal by Lebanon's Sierra Rogers put the Lady Raiders ahead for good during Brady-Trinity at Lebanon girls hockey at Campion Arena in Lebanon, N.H., on March 7, 2014. Lebanon won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
West Lebanon — The sign behind the Bishop Brady-Trinity girls hockey team’s net declared the sixth-seeded Giant Pioneers the dark horse before Friday night’s NHIAA Division I girls hockey quarterfinal. Unfortunately, the speed horse won.
Starting with a swarm and finishing with a kick, third-ranked Lebanon raced to a 5-1 win over BB-T at Campion Rink. The Raiders (13-5-1) used an aggressive forecheck to build a 2-1 lead in the second period, then employed their legs in a three-goal third that gassed a second-year Brady team playing its first NHIAA postseason game.
Junior Karli Swenson scored twice and fellow junior Emma Forman set up three goals for Lebanon, which advances to Tuesday’s semifinal against No. 2 Berlin-Gorham at Concord’s Everett Arena. BB-T’s Stephanie Snow tied the game at 1-1 in the middle stanza, but Raider defenseman Sierra Rogers’ 50-foot blue line lob just 16 seconds later put the hosts ahead to stay.
“We’ve been able to lock teams in,” Lebanon coach Brad Shaw said of the Raiders’ 1-2-2 forecheck, to which the team committed midway through the campaign. “We’ve had to work on our shooting — because that was one of our issues — and crashing the net, and I think today they started putting all that stuff together.”
While New Hampshire girls high school hockey is as deep as it’s ever been — Brady made the tourney on a third tiebreaker over St. Thomas-Dover — that depth doesn’t extend to most rosters. Injuries left the Giant Pioneers (9-10-0) filling holes, and Lebanon eventually wore the visitors down.
BB-T lost senior blueliner Stephanie Sloane to a knee injury at a midweek practice, forcing senior Arianna Harris to move from forward to defense. That tapped Brady’s attack depth, while the Raiders’ tactics sapped the rest.
“Our manpower was down two players,” BB-T coach Dan Earley confessed. “Arianna stepped up and played D very well, but that took away a forward. We gave it everything we had. We spilled it all out there, but we couldn’t put enough together.”
The foes, who split two regular-season games at Everett, played each other tight for a scoreless first 15 minutes. Starting Brady netminder Sara Plourde made the game’s first big save by stoning Swenson on a breakaway and Forman on a follow after 5½ minutes. The Giant Pioneers’ Ann Margaret DiSciscio tested Lebanon goalie Erika Moffitt late in the stanza, capitalizing when three Raider skaters couldn’t decide on controlling a loose neutral-zone puck.
Lebanon’s forecheck — a competitive necessity after graduating two top-end forwards last year — finally broke the deadlock. Winning a free puck to Plourde’s left, junior Loren McEwen flipped a blind pass at the near post that caught the goal frame and escaped Plourde’s sight. Lebanon sophomore Elle Brine jumped on the chance and jammed home a 1-0 lead at 2:21.
DiSciscio and senior Stephanie Snow gave Brady its best scoring chances on a night of shallow opportunities, with Snow denting the net on a solo rush at 11:43. Undaunted, Lebanon’s forecheck earned another opportunity deep in the visitors’ end, with Forman dropping a pass to Rogers at left point and the blueliner’s wrister snapping the twine at 11:59 past a screened Plourde.
“It was just a freak goal, just bounced up in the air and our goalie didn’t see it,” Earley said. “It probably did let the air out of our sails, after working so hard to get that tying goal.”
Earley subbed out Plourde for senior Lauren Owsowitz at the second intermission. Lebanon answered by clogging BB-T’s passing lanes and scoring three times in transition.
Swenson, a red-dyed ponytail flapping out from under her helmet, struck for the first two. The first came on a shoulder fake to elude Harris, curling around the Brady skater and stuffing a point-blank shot under Owsowitz at 4:01. Swenson did all the work on the second, intercepting a Brady dropback pass at the Lebanon blue line, outracing BB-T’s Athena Sirois to the other end of the ice and beating Owsowitz under her left arm at 6:59.
McEwen scored unassisted at 7:44, also on an interception of an errant cross-ice pass.
“We had the opportunity today to turn some of their defensemen earlier than we did, but our girls chose to take it behind the net and look for the pass in front,” Shaw said.
“Between the second and the third period, I told them they were turning the defensemen in time to make that cut to the net to jam it. Yeah, we have some good speed, definitely.”
And in this thoroughbred race, speed won the day.
“I think they figured out what they had to do was tire us out,” Earley said. “We were just trying to make the changes that we could to offset that, but we kind of ran out of horsepower.”
Ice Chips: Swenson and Brine had three goals to their accounts and Rogers just one entering the night, a point not lost on Shaw. “It’s awesome,” he said. “It means a lot to have that contribution from both of your lines.” … Plourde stopped 19 shots over two periods for Brady, while Owsowitz made seven stops in the final stanza. Lebanon’s Moffitt recorded 14 saves. … McEwen’s goal was her team-leading 20th for the Raiders. She, Michaela Schones and Lauren Goodell each had one assist. … Harris and senior Melissa Houde received assists on Bishop Brady-Trinity’s lone goal. … Lebanon co-captain Aubrie Mazurek left the game with sore ribs at 3:11 of the third after an awkward fall. She didn’t return to the game but was back on the bench for the final five minutes.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.