Hanover girls shut out Bishop Guertin to advance to NH title game

Hanover players celebrate one of their six goals as Guertin's Giada Kennedy looks away during Tuesday night's NHIAA semifinals at Concord's Everett Arena. (Photo by Tom King/Nashua Telegaph)

Hanover players celebrate one of their six goals as Guertin's Giada Kennedy looks away during Tuesday night's NHIAA semifinals at Concord's Everett Arena. (Photo by Tom King/Nashua Telegaph)

By TOM KING

Nashua Telegraph

Published: 03-06-2024 12:08 PM

CONCORD — The tournament meetings between the Bishop Guertin and Hanover High School girls hockey teams are usually classics, tugging at nerves and emotions every minute.

Not this time.

No, Tuesday night’s 6-0 Bears semifinal win over the Cardinals at Everett Arena resembled a regular season a game just a couple of weeks ago between the two teams in the Upper Valley more than any confrontations of the past.

The final score in that one was the same. Yes, the Hanover girls victory tour continues, as they keep taking no prisoners against New Hampshire teams, now having outscored them by a whopping 103-8 this season.

The Cards managed just six shots on net, and that’s not going to get the job done against anyone

“That wasn’t the plan coming in,” Guertin coach Phil DeVita said. “They’re a good team, a fast team, we knew, we played them earlier this season. Just wasn’t our day.”

The No. 3 Cards eventful season ends at 15-5 while the Bears — who are 15-3-2, but all losses and ties against teams out of state — will now take on No. 4, 16-4 Oyster River-Portsmouth in Saturday’s final at Manchester’s SNHU Arena. The Cards beat the ClipperCats in last year’s championship game.

But the signs that their title defense would end came when the Bears grabbed a 2-0 lead after one period. Hanover’s Rachel Rockmore stuffed one past BG goalie Scar Casey (24 saves) just 2:52 in, assisted by Lorelei Seelig. The pair reversed the scoring order at 7:52 for the 2-0 advantage when Seelig’s shot snuck by Casey through a small opening at the side of the net. Guertin looked gassed by period’s end.

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“We were pretty good at controlling the play in the neutral zone and didn’t spend a lot of time in our end,” Hanover coach John Dodds said.

The Bears, like in the regular season game, got two goals in each period, and in this one had five different scorers. The Bears got two early goals just over a minute apart in the second as Maeve Lee (3:53) and Casey Wilkinson scored, and Lee and Hannah Gardner tallied in the third, Gardner scoring on a simple flip from the blue line that deflected at 13:25 of the third when the Bears were almost trying not to score. Lee had two goals and two assists on the night.

Meanwhile, the Cards could muster no offense whatsoever. All six shots on Hanover goalie Eleanor Edson were one and dones.

“They played good team hockey this year, they played fast hockey, they played well together,” DeVita said. “They’re defense is tough, they’re goalie is tough. They just play complete team hockey. ... They’re tough to play against. They’re fast, they’re on you quick, they don’t give you time and space.

“We wanted to control the puck a little more, we wanted to get the puck deep on them, get more shots on net, try got keep the puck more in their zone. They were just so freakin’ fast to get it back out again.”

Last year Hanover fell short of the finals with low numbers, and many of the same players. What changed this year as they more resembled the program that dominated the sport for several years?

“The numbers are similar, but last year we ran into sickness and injury right at playoff time,” Bears coach John Dodds said. “When you have only 12 or 13 players, that makes a huge difference. This year, we’ve got 11 skaters — the nucleus was all back. Everybody’s been seeing ice time, so they’re improving.”

Good grief, improvement is relative.

“This was a good year for them,” DeVita said. “They’ve put it all together.”