Granite State Has a Blast at Make-a-Wish Hockey Game

  • Hanover High's Grace Tecca, right, celebrates with her New Hampshire teammates after they scored a goal in the first period of the All-Star Hockey Classic game to benefit Make-A-Wish at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Photo by Alden Pellett for the Valley News.

    Hanover High's Grace Tecca, right, celebrates with her New Hampshire teammates after they scored a goal in the first period of the All-Star Hockey Classic game to benefit Make-A-Wish at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Photo by Alden Pellett for the Valley News.

  • Lebanon High girls hockey coach Brad Shaw reacts to a near goal by the New Hampshire Girls All-Star team in the second period of play during the All-Star Hockey Classic to Benefit Make-A-Wish, Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the University of Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt.<br/>Alden Pellett photograph

    Lebanon High girls hockey coach Brad Shaw reacts to a near goal by the New Hampshire Girls All-Star team in the second period of play during the All-Star Hockey Classic to Benefit Make-A-Wish, Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the University of Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt.
    Alden Pellett photograph

  • Hanover High's Grace Tecca, right, celebrates with her New Hampshire teammates after they scored a goal in the first period of the All-Star Hockey Classic game to benefit Make-A-Wish at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Photo by Alden Pellett for the Valley News.
  • Lebanon High girls hockey coach Brad Shaw reacts to a near goal by the New Hampshire Girls All-Star team in the second period of play during the All-Star Hockey Classic to Benefit Make-A-Wish, Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the University of Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt.<br/>Alden Pellett photograph

Burlington — “I had a blast. Oh my gosh, what a great experience.”

Lebanon’s Micaela Schones may have been talking about her own personal experience in Saturday afternoon’s Make-A-Wish hockey Classic between New Hampshire and Vermont, but she easily could have been speaking for all in attendance at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House.

After 45 minutes of regulation failed to decide things, New Hampshire MVP Brooke Avery’s (St. Paul’s) five-hole wrist shot from between the circles gave the Granite State a 4-3 overtime decision in a raucous, fast-paced, see-saw affair.

The 17th annual meeting between the states featured four lead changes, goals both flashy and gritty, timely saves, and an almost palpable never-say-die attitude from the New Hampshire team.

“This shows how much hockey is a game of heart,” Hanover’s Grace Tecca, who scored late in the third period to force overtime, said. “They probably had more skill than us, be we wanted it so bad.”

Tecca was one of six Upper Valley players representing New Hampshire, joining Hanover teammates Caroline Howell, Sarah Muller, and Emily Gougelet, along with Lebanon’s Micaela Schones and Aubrie Mazurek. Vermont, which had won four of the previous five meetings and lost just once since 2007, holds an 8-6-3 edge in the series.

New Hampshire took leads in both the first and second periods — only to have Vermont strike almost immediately back — and after Vermont finally forged ahead, 3-2, at 5:33 of the third period, New Hampshire responded with an impassioned stretch of territorial dominance that was finally rewarded when Tecca tapped home a juicy rebound to knot things up with 3:14 to play.

Tecca’s goal capped off a New Hampshire surge that saw the visitors outshoot Vermont by a 8-1 margin over a four-minute stretch. Concord’s Annie Mullen started the sequence by flicking a shot on net from the left face off circle, and when the rebound skittered off Vermont goalie Siena Damon’s (Harwood) left pad and slowly through the crease, Tecca was ready to pounce.

“The whole game I kept saying, ‘Crash the net. Crash the net,’ Tecca said. “And then all of a sudden there it was, just dribbling there. I said to myself, ‘Get it!’ ”

Of the six Upper Valley representatives in the game, Howell is currently the only one with definitive plans to play in college next year, at Hartford’s Trinity College, a member of the highly competitive NESCAC. When Hanover’s powerhouse girls’ team (five consecutive state championships) traveled to Minnesota to participate in the Schwan Cup over Christmas break last school year, Howell’s performance caught the attention of the right set of eyes.

“The funny thing about that,” Hanover coach John Dodds, who was in attendance Saturday, said, “is that the Trinity coach (former Olympian Jenny Potter) could not be there, but her husband scouted the tournament and saw Caroline play, and that led to her being recruited by Trinity.”

“I hadn’t even applied there yet,” Howell said. “But when I got home there was an email. I thought, ‘That’s nice.’ ”

Dodds is confident that Howell will continue to evolve, and succeed, at the next level.

“It will take some adjusting, like for any player,” he said. “But Caroline is a good skater, she sees the ice well, and she has good hands. The biggest thing will be the strength of the players, and that will take some getting used to, but she’s already started preparing for that.”

After an understandably tentative start — neither team had practiced together until Friday afternoon — Saturday’s game steadily gained momentum, both in speed of play and drama.

New Hampshire struck first when Oyster River’s Jessica Mark-Anthony uncorked a slap shot from the left point that was expertly deflected into the upper left corner by high school teammate Maggie McNamara at 9:02 of the first period.

Just 1:06 later, however, things were knotted at 1-1. BFA-St. Albans’ Dani Schreiner picked off a puck just outside the New Hampshire blue line, weaved through a pair of defensemen, and flipped a close-range forehand over the stacked pads of Hanover’s Gougelet (seven saves).

The forward trio of Tecca, Avery and Mullen got the second period off to a rousing start for New Hampshire, pinning Vermont in its own end and unleashing four shots at goaltender Danielle Mayo (Stowe) before Howell’s seeing-eye slapper from the right point deflected off a Vermont skate and into the goal at 1:04, making it 2-1.

Unfortunately for New Hampshire, its second lead of the game was even more short-lived than its first. Just 26 seconds after Howell’s strike—and seven seconds after the start of its first power play opportunity of the game — Vermont’s Meghan Martin (North American Hockey Academy) ripped a slap shot into the lower right corner from high in the slot and it was 2-2.

That’s how it stayed until yet another highlight-reel goal propelled Vermont to its first lead of the afternoon. At 5:33 of the third, Martin intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, wheeled up the right hand boards, cut into the slot and buried a wrist shot into the upper left corner.

New Hampshire goalie Lauren Owsowitz (Bishop Brady/Trinity) was victimized by Martin’s moment of individual brilliance on the goal, but just over two minutes later Owsowitz made back to back point-blank saves to keep the deficit at a single goal — and New Hampshire in the game.

Those stops came with 7:00 remaining in regulation, and over the course of the next 3:46 New Hampshire blitzed Vermont with eight shots on goal, culminated by Tecca’s equalizer.

The momentum remained squarely in New Hampshire’s favor as overtime unfolded, and when the puck ricocheted off two sets of skates and onto Avery’s stick with 3:15, the soon-to-be MVP wasted little time in burying the game winner.

“We knew they were good,” Tecca said outside the New Hampshire locker room, as Schones and Howell nodded in agreement. “But we just really wanted it, and this sport, that means so much.”

N.H. Boys Earn Sweep

Burlington — In the 22nd annual boys’ game, New Hampshire pulled away for a 6-4 victory on third-period goals by Nashua’s Jack Latham and Londonderry’s Curtis Harper.

Vermont outshot New Hampshire 12-9 but trailed 1-0 going into the second period after a goal by Brent Phillips of Spaulding (N.H.) at 7:23, assisted by Somersworth’s Felix Nyqvist. New Hampshire had a goal waved off in the first part of the period.

Ben Ferland of Spaulding (Vt.) took over in net for Essex’s Brock Paquette halfway through the second period, and Joe Grout, of Lebanon, was replaced by Manchester Central’s Ian Beliveau. Grout played “awesome,” his coach, Gary Smith said after the game.

Vermont took a 2-1 lead :02 into its second power play of the game at 10:22. New Hampshire outshot Vermont 12-4 in the second period.

New Hampshire toed the game, then regained the lead at 9:06 with a goal by Harper from Mitchel Myers of Trinity and Eric Coburn of Londonderry. They increased the lead to 5-3 at 10:54.

Vermont pulled Ferland at 12:40, and he returned :26 later during a New Hampshire power play. Ferland soon left again, and :38 into the power play, Vermont closed the gap on a shorthanded goal by Colchester’s Matty Cuce from Ross Delabruere and Nick Berno.

New Hampshire sealed the victory with an empty-netter with 26.7 seconds to go.

The Vermont goalies combined for 30 saves while New Hampshire’s stopped 22.

— Times-Argus and Staff Reports

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