Lady Knights Tripped Up In Semifinal
By: Dan Crowley
The Lady Knights may have lost Saturday night in the MIAA Division 2 semifinal to Winchester, but they didn’t show it. The team knew that while they may have lost the game, they had accomplished something bigger. This year’s Sandwich girls’ hockey team put the program on the map.
No other Lady Knight team has gone as far as this team did. Together they finished the regular season with a share of the Southeastern Massachusetts Girls’ Hockey League Championship and finished their post-season run just one game short of playing in the championship round.
“This is a huge credit for our program to have reached this level,” Coach Steve Noll said. “We had a banner season. Everyone on this team has done such a great job.”
The fourth-seeded Lady Knights (15-5-2) fell to ninth-seeded Winchester (16-6-1) by a score of 3-1 in a game that the visiting Sachems had to work hard to win. Winchester took a 3-0 lead into the final period, but with 7:10 left Sandwich’s Courtney Alexander let go with a blast from the point that Michaela Igo redirected past Winchester goalie Meg Creane. The power play goal spoiled the Sachems’ shutout bid.
“I thought we played a great third period,” Noll added. “The kids never gave up.”
Winchester opened the game, pushing the puck hard into the Sandwich end, quickly testing Lady Knight goalie Kells Casey. The Sachems knew enough about the Lady Knights to know that they’d have to keep a close eye on Igo and they did. Every time the Sandwich center crossed the blue line, a sea of red jerseys descend on her.
In the second minute of the first period, before Winchester had a chance to latch onto Igo, she broke across the blue line and headed straight for the net. In desperation, the Sachems grabbed, hooked, and held Igo. While preventing her from getting off a shot, they did end up in the penalty box, but a Sandwich penalty 13 seconds into the power play spoiled any advantage for the Lady Knights.
The Winchester defense swarmed to the puck inside the blue line protecting Creane and stopping every Sandwich shot in the first 11 minutes. Alexander and Katherine O’Brien got off shots down the stretch, but were denied. With 48 seconds left to play in the first period the Sachems struck. Junior Michaela Chiccariello raced across center ice and into the Sandwich zone. She cut from right to left in front of the net and managed to avoid a defender and flip a shot just out of the reach of Casey that went into the net.
Casey stopped four shots in the opening two minutes of the second period as the Sachems continued to pressure the Sandwich net. Midway through the second stanza Chiccariello struck again. This time the speedy Sachem junior raced in on the left side and buried a shot high just inside the far post.
The Lady Knights nearly had another power play, only to be called for a penalty just 17 seconds into their five-on-four advantage. With 1:04 left in the middle period Winchester capitalized on a power play with Alexis Zavez getting her stick on the puck in a scramble and popping it up an over Casey’s glove.
Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, the Sandwich goalie did a nice job stopping the Sachems two minutes into the final 15 minutes when she came out of the net to cut down a Winchester shot. O’Brien dug the puck out from behind the net and like she has done so many times this season, shoveled it out front to Igo, but Creane blocked the shot.
Casey continued to come up with big saves in the third. The Lady Knights capitalized on a power play midway through the final period with Igo’s deflection of Alexander’s shot. Megan Congro and Ashley McElhinney did a nice job stopping Winchester in the third period and Paige Wilcox put the breaks on Chiccariello.
“Their defense was rock solid,” Coach Noll pointed out. “They did a good job protecting their goalie. They are a very talented club. They defended well, Michaela (Igo) only got about half the chances she usually does and they put a lot of sticks in Katherine’s (O’Brien) path. But we had a great third period. We just had a great year.”
Winchester will face second-seeded Fontbonne (17-3-2) Sunday morning at the TD Garden to decide the MIAA Division 2 championship.
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