By ANDY KIRKALDY
MIDDLEBURY — Visiting Champlain Valley got off to a hot start against the Middlebury Union High School girls’ hockey team on Friday, then held off a rally from a tired but determined Tiger team before taking a 10-4 victory.
The Redhawks used their strong skating and shooting skills to score four times in the first 6:39 against a Tiger team that was playing for the second time in less than 24 hours and was down to 11 skaters and a goalie because of injuries and academic problems.
But the Tigers kept competing, and rode the hot hand of junior Emmy Hescock back into the game. Her third goal of the evening came 1:25 into the third period and cut the CVU lead to 7-4, and Redhawk goalie Nicole Bonneau soon afterward stopped Hescock twice on the same play from the slot.
The Redhawks, who at 9-7-2 are in fifth place in Division I, reestablished control in the final 8:34, with two goals by Molly Howard, her third and fourth of the game, and one by Alyx Rivard.
MUHS co-coach Tim Howlett wished his 2-16 Tigers had gotten off to a quicker start, but understood if their legs were a little wobbly at the end after a long bus trip to Hartford for a makeup game the day before. And Howlett was pleased with their mid-game effort.
“When they woke up, they gave them a good run,” Howlett said. “This is our third game in four days, so we’re a little tired. It’s a long week.”
In all, the Redhawks outshot MUHS by 34-21, and many of their shots were high-quality: Few were from further than 10 feet away from Tiger goalie Ashley Howlett (24 saves), and many were breakaways, including Howard’s goal 34 seconds after the opening faceoff and Gillian Shelley’s goal that made it 3-0 at 4:23.
In between, Howard made it 2-0 by roofing a loose puck from close range, and at 6:39, Amanda Armell tapped in a cross-crease pass from Howard to make it 4-0.
Hescock got the Tigers on the board with a shorthanded goal at 10:53. She stole the puck at the Tiger blue line and chipped it home over Bonneau’s right shoulder on a breakaway.
Although play evened in the second, CVU extended the lead on breakaways by Maggie Ryan at 0:18 and by Amanda Lacaillade at 8:50, and on Marissa Parentei’s rebound goal at 9:02.
Before then MUHS had chances, notably by Megan Wade and Maria Ploof, and Grace Foshay and Kayla Quesnel-Cousino made good defensive plays.
The Tigers tallied at 10:44, when Casey OíDonohue won a puck in the left-wing corner and fed Hescock for a 35-footer that deflected in off a defender. At 14:22, Sara Boudah had a good play to keep the puck in the Tiger end, and Ploof centered from the left side to Viscaya Wagner at the right post. Wagner tapped it in for her first career goal.
Hescock completed her hat trick at 13:35 of the third, taking a perfect long breakout pass from Wagner, going in alone on Bonneau down the left side, and beating her with a low shot inside the far post.
But the Redhawks wore the Tigers down, and extended their lead again.
On Thursday, the Tigers lost at Hartford, 7-1, in a game moved from Jan. 29 because Hartford’s Zamboni broke down. Rebecca Fogg led the Hurricanes with four goals. Foshay converted a Hescock feed for the Tiger score. Howlett stopped 28 shots for MUHS, 13 more than Hartford goalie Brooke Harrington.
Coach Howlett said despite the Tigers’ disappointing won-loss record that he and co-coach Wendy Leeds believe the team is improving and enjoying its time together.
“We’re going into the last week of the season here, and spirits are good,” Howlett said. “So as coaches that’s half the battle.”