BOSTON, Mass. – For the first six minutes of overtime in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden, Canton had dominated. The Bulldogs had five shots on goal in the extra period and had a flurry of chances while on the power play, but they couldn’t find the winner.
Algonquin had one chance in OT, but that was all it took for the Titans to end Canton’s reign atop the division.
Sophomore Mallory Farrell raced up the right wing, got a step on the Canton defense, and cut straight towards the goal. She dragged the puck through the crease and just past the stick of Canton goalie Carolyn Durand before depositing the title winner into the open side of the net. The 2-1 come from behind win clinched Algonquin’s first state championship and ended a seven-game postseason win streak for the Bulldogs.
“It came down to a really outstanding power move by Mallory,” Canton coach Dennis Aldrich said. “That was a top-notch move. She had a little more in the tank than our forecheckers anticipated on that, we took our angle, and it was just a little bit off. I’m glad it ended like that, if it had to end against us, a great move like that rather than a trickler or something like that.”
The game started in Canton’s typical style, with the Bulldogs making sure to get the puck deep, aggressively forechecking, and staying compact in the defensive zone. It took the Titans 13 minutes to register their first shot on goal.
Payton McDonough created the first opportunity for Canton, forcing a save with a shot from the slot. Thirty seconds later, Ellie Bohane picked the pocket of an Algonquin defenseman behind the net and played it front to Maggie Dailey, but the shot went just wide. Allie McCabe then went on a long rush from the defensive zone and teed up McDonough for another shot that was stopped by Algonquin’s Lana Pacific.
Canton grabbed the lead after nearly 10 minutes. Maya Battista was able to knock down a puck at the blue line and found tons of space open in front of her. The junior defenseman skated into the slot and then sniped a wrister high to the stick side to make it 1-0.
“She just has a knack of getting pucks through,” Aldrich said of Battista. “That was a really nice shot. I’ve gotten used to seeing that nine or 10 times this year. She does a really good job, she shoots with her head up, she shoots strong, and there was a good screen on that too.”
Algonquin tried to respond and tested Durand with a shot by Lauren O’Malley from the point that was comfortably gloved. McCabe then went on another long rush through all three zones before firing a shot from the right-wing circle that Pacific kicked aside.
Searching for a second goal, Canton continued to put pressure on the Algonquin defense. Tori Carr’s shot forced Pacific into a pad save and Bohane hustled to collect the rebound but the Titans goalie stayed tall to block the backhand effort. McCabe hit Tess Khoury with a long, angled pass that gave the forward to try a slap shot, which was gloved.
The Titans were struggling to get looks at goal but nearly took advantage of a bounce off the boards behind the net to tie the game. A shot ricocheted straight back and into the crease where Alexandria Davies pounced only to have Durand react quickly to smother the shot.
Canton’s best chance of the second came with four minutes left in the period. Battista threw another testing shot on net from the blue line and the rebound fell to Anna Lehan, but she flipped her backhand shot just wide of the top corner. Durand needed to be awake to glove a shot from Farrell in the closing seconds of the period to keep it 1-0.
There were plenty of chances for Canton to give itself a cushion early in the third. McCabe had a shot from the point saved and Algonquin just about managed to clear the rebound before it was squeezed over the line. The puck came out to Devan Spinale and she also forced Pacific into a pad stop. Battista’s shot was tipped in front by Lehan but again the Algonquin goalie was equal to it.
“Especially in the third period, there were a couple of tips and there was one that was tipped off her shoulder,” Aldrich said. “I think both teams are totally tapped out, they left everything out there. It was a great high school hockey game. It was kind of what both coaches anticipated.”
The Titans made Canton pay for not taking its chances. Farrell cut in from the left wing boards, dragging the puck past two Bulldogs before forcing a save with a backhand shot. Durand wasn’t able to secure it and the Bryn Domolky was in the right place to tip it home just before Canton’s defense could clear.
After tying the game, Algonquin had a good stretch where it looked like it might grab the lead. Emily Johns set up Farrell for a one-timer that fizzed wide, Davies got free after a slip at the blue line but sent a shot high, and Durand made a stop on Farrell as she cut across the zone.
With weary legs from the big ice at the Garden, the game was slowing down but Canton had enough in the tank to nearly win the game in regulation. Battista hit Audrey Koen with an angled outlet pass. At first Koen struggled to bring it under control, but she chased after the puck, beat the defense, and flicked a near-post backhander that somehow slipped past the post.
Aldrich said, “It was anyone’s game. I thought we had it in the third. We’ve had a lot of puck luck up to this point and they ended up having a little bit more today.”
Ninety seconds into the overtime, Canton had a power play opportunity, the first for either team in the game. The Bulldogs took advantage of the extra skater to put the pressure on Pacific. Battista had a shot saved from the point, McCabe had another chance in the right wing circle knocked aside, and Carr cut inside from the left wing boards and forced a blocker save with a rising shot.
The power play and the aggressive attack may have just taken that little extra out of the Canton defense and Farrell exploited it, speeding down the wing, and not stopping until she was in the arms of her teammates streaming off the bench.
Canton (18-7-0) was playing in its fourth state title game in the last five seasons (not counting the shortened 2021 season). The Bulldogs saw a trip to the Garden taken away in 2020, had a season halved by the pandemic, have battled with illnesses, and early season injuries, but through it all still managed to be there at the end, playing on the final day.
“A lot of them were young when we were able to last play a tournament game,” Aldrich explained, “but to have them play back in 2020 and not be able to get here, no one on either team had been here before. I was smiling as soon as the whistle went in the Natick game, knowing that the girls were finally going to get experience it.
“It’s always tough, you tell the kids, you’re always going to look at this as like a crash ending but so much that these kids have done to get here to this point is just incredible. They were here and they stuck together.”