Hanover Express Rolls On
Assistant captains Caroline Howell, left, and Grace Tecca hold the championship trophy during a celebration lap after the Hanover vs. Berlin-Gorham girls hockey NHIAA Division I championship at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., on March 15, 2014. Hanover won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Eliza Laycock, right, celebrates after scoring the first goal of the game with teammates, from left, Caroline Howell, Matti Hartman and Emily Acker during the Hanover vs. Berlin-Gorham girls hockey NHIAA Division I championship at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., on March 15, 2014. Hanover won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Caroline Howell lines up her shot before scoring Hanover's third goal of the game in the second period of the Hanover vs. Berlin-Gorham girls hockey NHIAA Division I championship at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., on March 15, 2014. Hanover won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
The hardest thing to accomplish in sports is not the shocking upset victory that fires our emotions and captures our attention. No, the hardest thing to do in sports is to win when everyone expects it.
The Hanover High girls hockey team understands that principle better than most everyone.
With what is easily the most productive, prolific and successful program in the state, the Marauders have turned victory into a lifetime achievement award — year after year after year.
For five years, to be exact. Five straight state titles in New Hampshire. During that time, the Marauders have rolled up a 96-9-4 record. Add to that a title when Hanover was a charter member of sanctioned NHIAA playoffs, plus three straight unofficial titles before that, and Hanover has nine championships in the past 10 years.
Can you say dynasty?
“I’m proud of the culture of the program we have,” said Hanover coach John Dodds following Hanover’s championship game victory over Berlin-Gorham. “At this point, we expect to win, and we work hard and challenge ourselves to do that.
“The girls have really bought in. We skate every practice like it’s a Verizon Center appearance.”
To get his team ready for its annual trip to the Verizon Center, Dodds pumped up his regular-season schedule with a trip to Minnesota for a tournament against some of the top teams in the Midwest. He also added games against some perennial Massachusetts and New York powerhouses. In all, the Marauders went 5-2 against that top-flight competition.
After a 5-2 loss to Acton-Boxboro (Mass.) on Jan. 22, Hanover wouldn’t lose again the rest of the year. In fact, over the final 13 games, Hanover allowed only seven goals — more than one goal in a game only once — and seven shutouts by goalies Katie Fenton and Emily Gougelet. For the season, Hanover picked up 12 shutouts.
On the offensive side of the ice, 15 of the 17 skaters on the roster scored goals, while all 17 recorded at least one point. Sophomore Matti Hartman led the team with 30 goals and 52 total points. Hartman had one four-goal game and two other three-goal efforts, the only hat tricks for the team all season, despite scoring a team tally of 114 goals. With a goal in the title game, Hartman became the fourth Hanover player in the past three years to earn her 100th career point.
Sophomore Eliza Laycock was second in goals with 21 and points with 37. Kelly Brigham, yet another sophomore, was second on the team in assists with 23 — with a four-assist game during the year — and 30 total points. Caroline Howell, a senior defenseman, chipped in with five goals and 20 assists.
Heading into the tournament as the division’s top seed, the Marauders showed once again the distance between them and the rest of the field.
In the semifinals, Hanover out shot No. 5 Bishop Guertin, 43-10, en route to a dominating 5-0 victory and a berth in the finals.
Hartman helped the cause with three goals and an assist. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Hartman. “They always have my back. Things happened … because they passed to me, they found me. I just move, and they get me the puck.”
That set up a third meeting between the Marauders and Berlin-Gorham. Both regular-season games were close, with Hanover taking 2-1 and 3-1 victories. The third meeting was not.
Showing a balance on offense that highlighted the team’s overall depth and talent, Hanover rolled to a 5-1 triumph and a fifth straight title. Nine players from three lines had a goal or an assist, including five different goal scorers.
“Our depth is really what stands out for us, that we can throw any line out there and succeed,” said co-captain Grace Tecca. “Not many teams can do that.”
Not many can live up to their own high expectations, either. That’s what made this Hanover team so special.