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Thunderstruck: Missisquoi denies Woodstock in girls hockey championship game

  • The Woodstock team huddles together after losing the Division II girls hockey championship against Missisquoi at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Missisquoi won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Alessandra Cimis shoots past Missisquoi's Renee Bouchard to score a goal against goalie Madison Coney in the second period of the Division II girls hockey championship at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Faye Stevens (17) and Alessandra Cimis celebrate after Cimis' goal against Missisquoi's goalie Madison Coney in the second period of the Division II girls hockey championship at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Elizabeth Peck takes the puck behind Missisquoi's goal in the first period of the Division II girls hockey championship at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock assistant coach Kelley Ruch fist bumps her team during the awards ceremony after their loss in the Division II girls hockey championship against Missisquoi at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Missisquoi won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Bitty Alexander exits the ice with her team after losing the Division II girls hockey championship against Missisquoi at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Missisquoi won, 3-1. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Thursday, March 14, 2019

BURLINGTON — Eighth-seeded Woodstock Union High School — the lowest-ranked girls ice hockey team ever to reach a VPA Division II championship game — lost to No. 7 Missisquoi Valley Union, 3-1, in Thursday’s final at UVM’s Gutterson Fieldhouse.

The Wasps (8-13-3) appeared in their first-ever state title game after winning just five regular-season games. They scored 44 goals and gave up 61 during the regular season before stepping it up in the postseason, where they scored 18 goals and gave up six.

“I knew this team could play a certain way, and it just took a long time to get it going,” Woodstock’s sixth-year coach, Ian Coates, said. “I lost half of my point production from either graduation or people leaving the program. So, one of the lines had to build chemistry and start scoring points, and it was slow coming.”

The defending state champion Thunderbirds got on the board three minutes into the game when Callie Parks scored on an assist from Brianna Parent.

MVU (10-14) received a tripping penalty two minutes later, but the Wasps couldn’t convert on the power play, and instead nearly gave up a shorthanded goal before Woodstock netminder, Bridgit Black, made a big-time save against Parent.

Parent went on to score on a later breakaway, however, by falling down and inadvertently fooling Black, who altered her position at the exact moment the forward faltered.

The Thunderbirds took 10 shots in the second period, but couldn’t connect against Black, who finished with 25 saves.

The Wasps picked up their first of four penalties midway through the second when Khara Brettell was whistled for interference. Allie Cimis struck gold a minute later when she picked up a puck near the team benches, sprinted toward MVU goalie Madison Coney, then launched the puck into the top right corner just past Coney’s reach.

The Thunderbirds capped the scoring with slightly more than six minutes remaining in the game when Madison Aiken fed Parks from behind the Woodstock net.

The Wasps lost in the semifinals the last two years, to Missisquoi and Stowe, by a score of 2-0 each time. Thursday’s appearance represented another step forward in a rebuild led by Coates beginning at the youth hockey level in 2012. The 2015-16 season opener saw the end of the program’s 61-game losing streak, and the squad has been trending upward ever since.

“It’s very big,” Coates said. “I don’t know the whole history behind, I don’t know all the other coaches that coached the teams, but I do know in the six years that I’ve been here, we’ve been growing every year: quarterfinals, semifinals, semifinals. We’re moving in the right direction, so I think that’s pretty cool.”

The Wasps defeated Hartford, 7-1; Burr and Burton, 5-1; and Harwood, 5-1, en route to UVM’s Gutterson Fieldhouse, but faltered a bit once they got there.

“That was a tough team and we had to play our A-game that we’ve brought the past few games, and there were times out there we didn’t look like we had our A-game,” Coates said. “Being honest, we weren’t first to the puck, we weren’t playing sound position at times. We regrouped in the second period, we were getting things back together, but at the end of the day penalties are going to cost you. … We had to play a perfect game, and we just weren’t perfect out there.”

Woodstock will graduate Black; defenders Brettell and Liz Currier, and forward Addie Gray.

Black, who started playing hockey in seventh grade, shared her reaction to Thursday’s title game and the season as a whole.

“I’m actually not too sad about it,” Black said. “I came in expecting a good game. I didn’t necessarily expect to win or lose; I just expected my team to play a good game. I think we had little hiccups and bumps along the way, but I think we pulled ourselves together and played a really great game. And even though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, I’m proud of my team and of myself. I made a few mistakes as well and I paid for them, but I think we had a really great season and I’ll look back on it happy.”

Notes: Woodstock lost to the Thunderbirds, 3-1, at Union Arena on Dec. 27 in the only regular-season meeting. … MVU outshot Woodstock, 28-19 on Thursday. … The Thunderbirds, who appeared in their third consecutive title game, improved to 7-2 in VPA championships. … Prior to Thursday’s tilt, a No. 1 seed had reached the final every year since 2006. … Divisions II and III each included six teams this season. The D-II tournament included the bottom four from D-II and all of D-III for a total of 10 teams in the draw. The top two teams in D-II — Middlebury and Stowe — merged with the six D-I teams to comprise the upper tournament.