Back from long break, Bears blank Raiders

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-01-2023 8:36 AM

WEST LEBANON — An old rivalry followed its traditional storyline Monday, with the Hanover High girls hockey team beating Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge, 6-0, at Campion Rink.

Hanover used superior skating and vision to gain the offensive zone, then set up camp, peppering Raiders goaltender Kristen Garzia with 39 shots. Nora Bradley posted a hat trick, Maeve Lee had three assists and seven other Bears earned a point.

All this despite the defending NHIAA champions having played only once during the previous 16 days and missing injured standout Rory Seelig for a fourth consecutive week.

“We’ve worked on a lot of small-area situations in practice, and I think it’s helping their passing and their hockey sense,” said Bears coach John Dodds, whose team improved to 10-2. “We started slow, but we moved the puck well during the second and third periods.”

Dodds said Hanover’s last game, a one-goal victory over visiting Beekmantown (N.Y.) on Jan. 21, could have been a loss because of careless puck possession and unforced turnovers.

“We’ve been lucky with that at times, or (goaltender Eleanor Edson) has saved our butts,” Dodds said. “She stole that game for us despite silly turnovers and bad habits.

“I told our players to hold on to the puck a little bit longer and make better decisions tonight.”

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Maggie Feng tipped in a shot for a 1-0 lead after a period, and Bradley sandwiched two tallies around another by Mackenzie Liu for a 4-0 advantage after two. Bradley and Rachel Rockmore concluded the scoring.

“We skated with them in the first five minutes, but we weren’t good enough with the puck and panicked a little bit at times,” said LSK coach Mike Sheehan. “We played hard, but not always smart.”

The Raiders (5-5), who sometimes played during previous seasons with only eight or nine healthy skaters, have seen their roster swell to 19 this season, although there’s a substantial drop in skating ability beyond the second line. The program seems healthier with an influx of younger, more polished players, combined with others’ enthusiasm for learning the game on the fly.

“They’re definitely getting better,” Dodds said. “They have more speed this year than last year, and that’s big. It’s not just physical speed, but how fast you move the puck.”

Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge had chances, especially as the score increased, to gain the neutral zone with speed. However, the Raiders all too often couldn’t solve the crowded confines of center ice, turning the puck over with a poor pass or allowing themselves to be pinched off against the boards.

“We could have done a better job trusting ourselves to utilize the ice that was open and not force the puck along the wall,” Sheehan said. “But we haven’t played a team like that in a couple of weeks, and it was a tough adjustment for us.

“They’re a good team, and we didn’t have enough for them tonight.”

The Raiders visit Oyster River-Portsmouth on Wednesday and host St. Thomas-Winnacunnet-Dover on Saturday. Hanover visits BFA-St. Albans and Beekmantown on Saturday and Sunday.

Notes: LSK’s best scoring chance came on an early Greta Barber breakaway, but the forward fired the puck into Edson’s chest. … Dodds said Lee and Bradley are as good as any of the 10 or 12 Hanover players who have advanced to NCAA Division III hockey during his tenure. “They both see the game really well and control the puck,” he said. … Lebanon has played all season without Claire Falcone, who’s recovering from a knee injury suffered during field hockey season. … The contest was officiated by a pair of young women who allowed somewhat of a rough-and-tumble style but still earned praise from Hanover boys soccer coach Rob Grabill, whose long hockey history is sometimes overlooked. “They were outstanding; I was really impressed,” Grabill said of the zebra pair. … Edson make eight saves. … Dodds said he hopes Seelig, who’s nursing a bad back, can return to action this weekend.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.

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