Hall-Conard hosted the Mercy-NWC co-op at Veterans Memorial Rink in West Hartford Monday, winning their second game of the season.
By Paul Palmer
For the first 30 minutes, it looked like the Hall-Conard WarChiefs were going to coast to their second win of the season. It was the last 15 minutes that turned Monday’s girls hockey game into a wild 5-3 win over a scrappy Mercy-NWC.
The start of the first was mostly a feeling out period with both sides trading possessions and looking for opportunities on goal. Then the goals started coming in bunches … for both teams.
With 3:15 to play in the first, freshman Quinn Bacon converted a pass from Bridget McGann to make it 1-0. Just 11 seconds later, the two would switch roles with the WarChiefs, taking the faceoff deep into the Tigers zone before Bacon found the senior McGann whose wicked wrister made it 2-0.
“I thought we started good. It was a nice continuation of what we did on Saturday,” said head coach Brett Soucy. “We had lots of energy.”
After an easy first period where she faced just four shots, junior goalie Sofia Levesque was tested early by the Tigers, but she held the shutout. Near the midway point of the period, it became the Ana Haubrich offensive show. The senior forward pulled in a long pass from Grace Ganey, fended off a defender before beating Michela Healy to make it 3-0.
Haubrich paid a price for her goal, as she was taken hard into the end boards, but was no worse for wear. “I didn’t know it went in,” said Haubrich. But she saw her next one go in about eight minutes later. The play started in the Hall-Conard defensive zone when Grace Ganey picked up a loose puck at the blueline. Her initial shot was stopped by Healy but Haubrich was there to turn it into a 4-0 lead.
The first two periods were dominated by the home side. They held a 26-10 advantage in shots and clearly had the better of puck possession. Four players had collected two points each by the intermission and it didn’t look like things were going to change.
In the third, things started promisingly enough for Hall-Conard when Haubrich’s wrister from the slot whistled just over the bar, stick side. With 11:26 to play in the third, the period and the game got very wild.
First it was Mercy-NWC’s standout defenseman Riley Esposito scoring for the Tigers. Twenty-three seconds later the Tigers had a golden chance to get back into the game when Hall-Conard took a hooking penalty to put the visitors on the powerplay. But less than a minute later, Esposito was whistled off for a tripping call, making it a 4-on-4.
Neither team would score in the trade of powerplays, but Mercy-NWC would score a wild goal with 6:10 to play. Danielle Healy sent a shot on goal from below the faceoff circle to the right of Levesque. She never saw the shot and it managed to find its way through a crowd and into the net, and the game was now 4-2.
“What we did best was move the puck and that was the difference for us,” said Soucy. “But in the third we took out foot off the gas pedal a little bit and they took advantage.”
With her team on the powerplay, Haubrich would complete the hat trick and it was a little extra special. Her twin sister, Sam, sent a pass across the front of goal to a wide-open Ana who had all kinds of space to put it in. “That was kind of special getting the pass from my sister,” said Ana. “Her determination is outstanding,” said Soucy of Ana Haubrich. “They were bumping her all night and she didn’t shy away.”
With just over five minutes to play and a three-goal lead, it seemed that Hall-Conard had secured the win, but someone forgot to tell the Tigers. Twenty-one seconds after Haubrich’s goal, it was Marisa Milken scoring for Mercy-NWC and it was once again just a two-goal game. The Tigers worked hard trying to cut it to a one-goal game, applying pressure to the WarChiefs defense, and stepping up at their own blueline to snuff out any attacks on their goal.
McGann nearly slammed the door shut on Mercy/NWC with 2:03 to play, when she used her speed to catch up to a loose puck in the neutral zone. She cut in from the right boards, shielding off a defender, but Healy was up to the task and turned away the shot. That would be the best, last chance for either team.
Hall-Conard improves to 2-0 on the season with the 5-3 win. They will host the Avon-Southington-RHAM-Newington-Mills-Wethersfield-Coventry co-op on Saturday.
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