Canton girls hockey used a pair of second period goals and its fourth straight shutout of the season to earn an important 2-0 win over Mansfield/Oliver Ames in a good battle between two talented teams.
“That’s a great team, Roy [Bain] always does a fantastic job with them,” said Canton head coach Dennis Aldrich. “To mold three schools together, they always play us tough. I just can’t give him enough credit and his girls battled every single shift. It was a great win for us.”
After a scoreless back-and-forth first period that saw each team have extended spans of offense, the second period became the defining frame of the game.
It started with defense for the Dogs, who have yet to surrender through 12 periods of play this season. The Warriors killed the final six seconds of a penalty to start the period and junior Alex Ledin came out of the box at the perfect time as MOA broke up ice. Ledin took a feed into the offensive zone and unleashed a wicked slap shot that was turned away from Canton freshman goalie Carolyn Durand (15 saves).
The Warriors had another chance four minutes into the second when junior defenseman Emma Pereira pinched in to win a battle in the corner. After emerging with the puck, Pereira used a nice fake to find her way between two Bulldogs before firing a wrist shot from the right circle, but her hard shot whistled just wide.
The Bulldogs’ defense was under even more pressure after a hooking call put Mansfield/Oliver Ames on the power play with 10:51 to play in the second period. The Warriors’ best chance came when Pereira played a pass through the Canton defense to Ledin, but her backhanded attempt was knocked away by Durand.
“We have a lot of defensemen on this team right now with a lot of experience and a lot of talent, and I honestly believe that you could borderline say all five are all stars,” Aldrich said. “The composure that they show, that’s what we need to calm our freshman goalie down. They’ve allowed her to see shots, and the very few shots she hasn’t seen, she’s worked hard on her angles. And our forwards know who we are, they know they have to help out.”
After killing the penalty off, and thwarting the Warriors’ earlier chances, the Bulldogs picked up the momentum. A high clearance from freshman Olivia Maffeo deflected off the glass at the blue line, eluding an MOA defenseman. That led to an odd-man rush for Canton with junior Maria Femia carrying the puck into the zone with classmate Tess Khoury skating hard to the net.
With the one defenseman shadowing Khoury, Femia decided to take the shot herself and buried it glove side to give Canton a 1-0 lead with 8:30 left in the second.
“What made that play was Tess [Khoury] going hard to the net because the goalie had to respect that,” Aldrich said. “And then there was some space short side high. She didn’t get a point on it but she helped create it. Maria made the right choice too, she’s a smart enough kid to take that. That goalie [Jess Widdop, 24 saves] has improved a lot, she’s worked very hard and she played really well.”
After the goal, the Warriors came back down with a couple of good chances to try the contest. First, Ella Waryas found space and fired a nice shot that was equaled by a nice save from Durand. Two minutes later, Ledin put a shot through traffic that Durand somehow got an eye on and made a glove stop.
And after that, Waryas dropped a pass off for freshman Reese Pereira, but her bid of the short side was kept out by another stop.
With just under two minutes to play in the period, Maffeo picked up possession behind the net and took off up ice. Using her speed, Maffeo raced her way past a pair of Warriors into the attacking zone, skated out wide to her right and rifled a shot upstairs to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with 1:34 left in the second.
“That second goal was huge for us because, without it, they are just one bounce away,” Aldrich said. “I scouted them before this but they were really quick, they were much quicker on ice level. I was really impressed with their speed. If they get that next one, they have all the momentum so getting that second goal was huge. And Olivia is a special talent, that was big for us.”
Mansfield/Oliver Ames had an early power play chance in the third but couldn’t create a serious scoring chance. Melissa Shanteler connected with Waryas and Pereira for a chance midway through the third but Durand made a pad stop to maintain the lead.
With under two minutes to go, MOA tried to get the puck up ice with the goalie pulled but Maffeo intercepted the pass in the neutral zone and blasted a shot into the empty net to make it 3-0.
“We played very well,” said MOA head coach Roy Bain. “The lesson learned is that when you make mistakes against a good, well-coached team you pay. We paid for it with a couple of goals. We had to dig out a hole which is tough against that team. We had our chances, both goalies made great saves on both ends of the ice. But one or two talents will cost you against an elite team like Canton.
“I thought we had continuous pressure in the first period and they were able to stave off every chance we had, and that kind of staled our momentum a little bit. It’s tough to come out in the third, against a team like that, and try and build momentum when you’re down.”
Canton girls hockey (2-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Medfield at the Canton Ice House. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (1-1, 2-1) returns to Rodman Arena as the road team on Thursday against Walpole.