West Hartford’s Hall/Conard girls hockey team won 6-2 0n senior day.
By Paul Palmer
It’s been an up and down year for the Hall/Conard girls hockey team. With just one more regular season game to play, their 8-10-1 record has them on the bubble for making the state tournament, but Saturday the team did all it could to extend things into the post season as they celebrated their senior players in the pre-game and then saw six different players score a goal in the 6-2 win over Woodstock Academy.
Senior goalie Sofia Levesque was steady in goal, giving up single goals in just the first and third periods. Senior forward Greer Baumgartner chipped in a goal as well for the team. They joined goalie Genella Evans and defenseman Annie Woods in leading a club heavy on underclassmen. “Each brings a level of leadership and calm to the team,” said first year head coach Paul Stone of his seniors. “They’ve been an extension of the coaching staff and done a fantastic job in a role that is not easy.”
Saturday’s first period was bit of a sleeper as Hall/Conard controlled most of the early play but could not find the back of the net. Levesque was not tested until halfway through the period when she had to come up with a big stop on a wrap-around chance. About t3minutes later she had to make a right pad save when Keynila Hochard intercepted a cross ice pass and raced in alone on the goal. With 4 minutes to play, Avery Wolfe had a clean win in the left faceoff circle, the puck went to Avery Selstad who sent it around the boards behind Levesque. Grace Ganey picked up the puck in her own defensive zone, sped down the righthand boards and beat Woodstock goalie Liz Morgis between the pads for the game’s opening goal.
With time running down in the period, Emily O’Keefe and Ganey took back-to-back penalties and the Centaurs took advantage. Sophia Gouveira fired a rising shot from inside the right faceoff circle after Woodstock won the draw and the game was tied at 1 with 1:24 to play. The hosts would go on the power play late in the first and saw 36 seconds of it carry over to the next period. “I never like coming out flat,” Stone said of the first period.
Whatever he told them in the locker room must have worked because they got to work from the opening faceoff in the second period to put the game way. It started just 10 seconds in when Teagan Cohane directed the puck on net. Morgis appeared to have stopped the shot, but it trickled through her legs for the powerplay tally. Wolfe would have the next good chances for Hall/Conard first when she forced Morgis to make a huge save and later when she was denied 1-on-1 by Morgis. The puck trickled through the legs of the goalie but was cleared out of the paint by a defender.
With just under 7 minutes to play, Hall/Conard’s pressure paid off when Baumgartner was in the right place at the right time to score. She was tangled up with a pair of defenders in front of the net. The puck was sent in high and a defender gloved it down right onto Baumgartner’s stick and she made it a 3-1 game. “It is definitely more special to score on senior day,” she said after the game.
With just under 90 seconds to go in the second, a teamwork play paid off for the host club. Cohane blocked a clearing attempt by Woodstock. The puck went into the corner where Ganey took control of it and found Quinn Bacon in front of the goal. Bacon jammed it in past Morgis.
Hall/Conard would take that 4-1 lead into the final period of play and Stone says the period reflected what he has been telling his players all season. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point in the season.” He also reminded them that it was a very special day for some of the team leaders. “We owe the senior’s 100% effort in all we do,” Stone said.
Woodstock’s Gouveira would get her second goal of the game with 6:13 to go in the third period, and Levesque was forced to make a save and then a second on a rebound moments later. That would turn out to be the Centaurs’ last, best chance to score. Hall/Conard would score the final two goals of the game, the first coming when Wolfe’s luck finally changed. The sophomore took a drop pass from Fiona Campbell used a textbook forehand-backhand move on Morgis and slid the puck into the net. “
Avery is fast and confident,” said Stone. “She was snakebitten for a while but is starting to find the net.”
Junior Maddy Sweeney would close out the scoring when she poked in the puck with 1:24 to play from a group in front and it was a 6-2 final score.
The win marked the first time Hall/Conard has won back-to-back games this season. For the seniors, the season and their careers to this point on ice have been defined by camaraderie. “We try to work hard at practice and keep it positive,” said Levesque, who did not start playing goal until her freshman year of high school. “We’re trying to always be positive,“ added Baumgartner. “We have a lot of new players on the team.”
The team will finish up its regular season next Saturday at Veterans Memorial Rink when they host Ridgefield. They have not qualified for the CCC Tournament but still hope for a shot to make states. “We hope to end on a high note in the regular season next weekend and make states,” Levesque said.
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