The WarChiefs earned their second victory over the Trojans, fending off a late comeback effort to improve to 10-1 on the season.
By Marlon Pitter
In a meeting of two of the state’s top girls hockey teams, No. 1 Hall-Conard scored two gritty goals and killed a late penalty to overcome No. 4 Simsbury 2-1 Monday night at Veterans Memorial Rink in West Hartford.
Nikki Herz scored the game-winning goal amongst a scrum near the Simsbury crease to break a 1-1 tie with 3:17 remaining in the second period. Grace Cho and McKenzie Bloom assisted on the tally.
“We just gotta get pucks to the net,” said Hall-Conard head coach Brett Soucy. “Our second goal that Nikki (Herz) scored was evident of that. Quick shot, didn’t give up, just banged away at it. Just pure will to get the puck in the net there.”
Trying to close out the game with 2:20 left in regulation, the WarChiefs had to stave off a roughing penalty. Down two skaters as the Trojans pulled their goalie with 1:10 remaining, the WarChiefs managed to continually clear the puck without the threat of icing.
“That’s another thing we’ve been working on is, when the intensity level rises, the compete level has to be there, but you have to compete within the rules,” said Soucy regarding the late penalty.
“Our first game … against Simsbury was very similar. We had to close out the game short-handed. That’s definitely something we have to avoid. Moving forward, we can’t get ourselves into penalty trouble in a one-goal game.”
Maya Borden scored first to give Hall-Conard the lead 1:23 into the first period. Like Herz, Borden also found the puck near the Trojans’ crease for her tally.
Simsbury (8-3) responded midway through the second with a power-play goal by Madison Loftus, assisted by Grace Melanson and Lindsay Madigan.
Senior co-captain Nora McGowan backstopped the WarChiefs to another win, making key saves throughout the game. McGowan denied a point-blank chance for Simsbury during a first-period power play and stopped a breakaway chance in the second.
Her consistency, Soucy said, is a large part of the WarChiefs’ success so far.
“In the last five games, she’s let in two goals, so that’s evident of how well she’s playing,” he said. “In addition to that, she’s been a leader for us. She’s just a great, all-around important player for our team.”
With the win, Hall-Conard improves to 10-1 and earns its ninth-straight victory. The team also sweeps the season series with the Trojans.
The WarChiefs will continue to expect everyone’s best effort to knock them off as the season progresses.
“That’s something we talk about as a team every game,” said Soucy. “We know that teams are going to bring their best against us. Ultimately, that’s going to make us a better team, I think, so we’ve gotta just keep the compete level high and be aware of that.”
Hall-Conard will go on the road to face Fairfield Ludlowe-Warde Saturday at noon.
— Marlon Pitter (@marlonpresents) January 15, 2019
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