Thursday, March 16, 2017

Canton Girls' Hockey Shuts Out Westwood in State Semifinals

By Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports)

BOURNE, Mass. - MIAA playoff seeding does not take momentum into account.

Perhaps that is its biggest flaw, as it makes a No. 14 seed reaching a state championship seem like a surprise when, in fact, there was little reason to doubt the Canton Bulldogs girls’ hockey team (14-4-6).

Sporting a defense that has allowed a mere 27 goals in 24 games, the Bulldogs’ defense excelled once again, limiting the No. 7 Westwood Wolverines (19-5-2) to only 16 shots on their way to a 1-0 win at Gallo Ice Arena Wednesday Night in the Division 2 State Semifinal.

With the win, the Bulldogs, who have only lost one of their past 18 contests, will face top-seeded Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the Div. 2 State Championship game this Sunday, Mar. 19, at TD Garden in Boston.

Previously, the Bulldogs fell 1-0 to the Wolverines on December 30, so the state semifinal also served as a revenge win.

“This was a great battle,” Bulldogs head coach Dennis Aldrich said of Westwood. “We’re familiar with them. We’ve known each other forever, and the two times we played (each other) this year were the only times we weren’t rooting for each other to win. It was our turn this time. I couldn’t be happier for our girls. We took a few losses earlier in the year, but we beat them the second time around, which is big for us and big for our mojo going forward.”

The first half of the contest was uneventful but with 3:44 remaining in the second period, the Bulldogs changed that.

Junior forward Kendra Farrelly gave the Bulldogs their lone goal as she buried a second-chance scoring opportunity off her own shot. Sophomore defender Leah McClellan had the original shot on goal towards the right side of Westwood’s net, which gave her credit for the assist.

“She was awesome tonight,” Aldrich said of Farrelly. “On that one, I said she probably should’ve gotten the goal and the assist because she got her own rebound. She took the beating, got the rebound, the shot was there and she put it in. A couple other times I thought she’d get a goal too by sticking her nose in there, but their goalie came up big. That was terrific.”

Other than one miscue, Wolverines sophomore goaltender Caroline McDonough was sharp. She had 23 saves on 24 opportunities and hindered a handful of strong Bulldogs scoring opportunities.

With 6:30 remaining, the Wolverines had their best scoring opportunity on a 2-on-1 rush, but their effort came up just short.

Junior forward Ashley Nolte dished the puck to sophomore forward Kat Keith who put up a convincing shot, but it hit the top-right side of the post--a gift for the Bulldogs in such a tight game.

McLellan, freshman Alexa Maffeo, sophomore Katie Trerice and senior Molly McLaughlin played strong defense for the Bulldogs while seniors Kathryn Doody (who doubles as a goaltender) and Riley Duserick and junior Maggie Wade excelled on the attack.

In net, Kelleher recorded 13 saves as she earned the shutout and the win. Throughout the season, the Bulldogs' defense -which will be crucial in the championship game- has thrived, which give them reason to believe in themselves when facing a powerhouse program.

“Yeah it gives me a little bit of confidence.” Kelleher said of her success this season. “But I know I still need to do my best every game. It does make me feel a little better.”

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