Sunday, March 19, 2017

Notre Dame Academy Captures Back-to-Back Girls' Hockey Titles

By Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports)

BOSTON - Oops... They did it again.

The top-seeded Notre Dame Academy girls hockey team (23-0-1) took their high-powered offense and elite defense to the Division 2 State title game at TD Garden Sunday morning and defeated No. 14 Canton (14-5-6), 5-2.

Despite not having a single senior on the team, the Cougars managed to defend last year's title.

"Last year was a little bit different of a group, so I can't say I have a favorite," Cougars head coach Jean-Yves Roy said. "But we met obstacles both years, and what we've accomplished here is pretty special. It'll be remembered for a long time."

Going into the contest, it appeared as though both teams were evenly-matched on defense. The Bulldogs had let up a mere 27 goals in 24 games while the Cougars had led up a meager 25 in 23 contests. But the Cougars averaged nearly two more goals per game during the season than their foe.

Skylar Irving netted the Cougars' first goal of the game. Five minutes in, she buried a second-chance scoring opportunity, giving her team the initial lead off Jill Lyons' shot.

Katie Pyne, who notched a hat trick, nearly doubled her team's lead a couple minutes after, but her shot bounced off the post.

The Cougar defense managed to shut their foe out for the first two periods. Goaltender Emma Duffey came up with a strong stop midway through the second period, halting an odd-man rush by sticking her stick out and interrupting the pass.

Ultimately, the Cougars could not stop their foe the whole game.

The Bulldogs came out strong to start the third period. A minute-and-a half in, Andrea McNeil backhanded a shot into the back of the Cougars net, giving her team their first goal of the game. Kendra Farrelly earned the assist on the play as she swept the puck out across in front of the net to McNeil.

Less than 20 seconds later, though, the Cougars replied.

Winning the opening face off, they found themselves on the attack and Pyne notched her first goal of the contest, pushing an uncovered puck past the Bulldogs goaltender.

Pyne made it 3-1 Cougars one minute later with her second goal of the game, thanks to Skylar Irving's assist.

Though the Cougars played strong defense, they did have one lapse. Lauren Fitzpatrick gave the Bulldogs another goal five minutes into the third period when Lauren Fitzpatrick launched a shot from the blue line that slid through the Cougars' goaltender's legs.

Although the Bulldogs would not do any further damage, the Cougars were not done.

Irving netted an uncovered puck in for a score with 6:46 left in the contest and Pyne scored her third goal of the game with 2:26 remaining.

"My line mates and my teammates really connected," Pyne said. "It just happened to be me who got the goals in. It could've been anyone. Teamwork won the game, not an individual."

Coming off back-to-back championships, the Cougars will not lose anyone to graduation following this season. With that in mind, perhaps a three-peat is in their future.

"This year our goal was to win a state championship. Next year our goal is going to be to win a state title," Roy said. "Are we going to lose some players? Maybe. Will we have some new players coming in? Who knows what will happen?

"There's a lot of uncertainties with high school hockey," he added. "We'll deal with those then. Notre Dame Academy is in great shape right now and it's going to stay that way."

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