A decade of dominance: Hanover girls win 10th straight NHIAA hockey title

  • Hanover's Clara Boland (left) and Meredith Morhun (bottom center) raise their arms in celebration of Natalie Morhun's (right) goal during the first period of the girls' championship ice hockey game at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Hanover defeated Exeter, 4-1. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

  • Hanover's Natalie Morhun (19) fires and scores on Exeter goalie Isabelle Day during the girls' championship ice hockey game at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Hanover defeated Exeter, 4-1. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

  • Hanover goalie Rebekah Rudd makes a save during the girls' championship ice hockey game at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Hanover defeated Exeter, 4-1. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

  • Hanover, includes Clara Boland (center) celebrate their 4-1 win over Exeter following the girls' championship ice hockey game at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Saturday, March 9, 2019. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

  • Hanover celebrates their 4-1 win over Exeter following the girls' championship ice hockey game at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Saturday, March 9, 2019. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

  • Hanover's Emma Tysinger (12) makes a pass as Margaret Lee (8) and Meredith Morhun (2) get into position during the girls' championship ice hockey game at SNHU Arena in Manchester on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Hanover defeated Exeter, 4-1. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 3/9/2019 10:01:04 PM

MANCHESTER — With a smaller roster than usual, and without the go-to scorer of past years, Hanover High girls hockey coach John Dodds has had to emphasize a defense-first approach with his Marauders this season.

The best defense, of course, is to not let the other team have the puck.

Fifth-seeded Hanover held No. 2 Exeter to just four shots on goal through two periods, and the Marauders spread the scoring around for a 4-1 NHIAA Division I championship win on Saturday at SNHU Arena.

The victory extended the Marauders’ stranglehold on the sport, stretching their reign to a 10th year. Hanover has won 11 of the 12 championships since the NHIAA began sanctioning the sport, toppling Exeter (15-5-1) in the last three state finals.

Violet Sperry and Maggie Lee scored 45 seconds apart late in the middle period to turn a 1-0 game into a more comfortable 3-0 cushion. Hanover (14-5-1 league, 15-6-1 overall) played defense the rest of the way, closing on Exeter skaters before they could settle the puck and clogging areas where the Blue Hawks might have produced danger against a less-seasoned foe.

“As always, team D is very important for this program, especially this year,” said Hanover senior Emma Tysinger, one of four different goal scorers and a key part of the Marauders’ defensive game plan. “What we focused on was everybody playing their roles: the wings being out at the points, the defense — especially against this team — watching the slot.

“We’re making sure that we’re watching their players. They float a lot, so we’re keeping an eye on them.”

Or a stick. Or a body. Or a shadow, even.

It’s really no different than another other Dodds-coached squad, Exeter coach Geoff Taylor noted. It made falling behind hurt, and it made coming back very hard.

“The biggest thing is how well Hanover can play in all facets of the game,” Taylor said. “You know about their ability to skate and dominate possession of a game. But the big thing that stood out to me was the smothering defense. You’re struggling to find each other to create time and space out there. Makes it tough to do the things you want to do.”

Hanover dominated play through the first period, holding a 13-3 edge in shots, but needing nearly 14 minutes to finally dent the net.

Much of the Marauders’ control came courtesy of an Exeter too-many-players-on-the-ice minor at 6:26. Hanover pounded six shots on Blue Hawks goalie Isabelle Day (28 saves) on the man-up, the last — a Lee bid through traffic from the low right circle — posing the most difficulty.

Sophomore Natalie Morhun gave the Marauders the lead at 13:39. Taking a lead pass from Tysinger, Morhun eluded the Exeter defense and fired a shot on Day, the puck hitting the goalie high on the midsection before looping over her shoulder into the net.

“We’ve been in these games before when you are chasing, and we’re not the team that’s really built to be able to do that a lot,” Dodds said. “Getting behind, you’re chasing leads and, all of a sudden, you’re letting up on your defense.”

The Marauders had no such problems in expanding their lead with bang-bang scores late in the middle period.

The Blue Hawks killed off a penalty on Day for tripping Hanover’s Meredith Morhun during a Marauder assault. But a bad line change and a Bryn Kable lead pass moments after the minor ended freed Sperry for a two-on-none with Lee, and Sperry made no mistake at 11:52.

Hanover continued to swarm after the ensuing faceoff and had a third goal at 12:39, Lee burying the rebound of a right-wing bid from Clara Boland.

“It really gave us a little room to breathe and get all the nerves out,” Lee said. “(It gave us) time to play team defense and not have to score a bunch of goals.”

Shauna Vadeboncoeur gave the Blue Hawks a spark at 5:40 of the third when she knocked home Dakota Markey’s behind-the-net feed past Hanover goalie Rebekah Rudd (nine saves) from the doorstep. Carissa Towlson followed with a low bid from the right dot a half-minute later, one that Rudd handled and covered.

A Kable tripping minor with 1:16 left led Taylor to pull Day for a 6-on-4 advantage. Hanover won the ensuing end-zone faceoff back to Tysinger, who banked a 150-foot shot off the left-wing boards and — slowly — down the ice and into the empty net with 1:07 to go.

“I was just trying to ice it,” Tysinger claimed, blushing.

Look down the record of Hanover’s reign, and it’s evident defense holds a major role. The Marauders have given up only 16 goals in that 10-year run, with one shutout and six one-goal efforts.

“It’s a five-man unit out there,” Dodds said. “We like our defensemen up with the play in the neutral zone. They’ve got to be good skaters. They’ve got to have good hockey sense of when to give more space and when you stay up and cut off angles.”

It’s solid. It’s stifling. Ten years and counting, and it’s still successful.

“I’m just purely ecstatic about this win,” Kable said. “This team and this season has meant so much to me and all of the other seniors. ... We really, really worked hard this season, put in all the extra effort we could. And it paid off, which felt oh so sweet.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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