For 15 minutes, the Champlain Valley Union High School–Mount Mansfield Union High School girls hockey team kept high-scoring Spaulding under control.
In the second period, the flood gates opened.
The undefeated Crimson Tide scored two goals in a minute and a half and went on the to defeat No. 3 CVU-MMU 4-0 in the Division II girls hockey state championship game on Monday night, March 9, at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
“I really didn’t know what to expect this year,” said CVU-MMU coach Scott Bushweller. “The fact that we got this far, and that most of the team is coming back next year, is a good sign.
“We can really look forward to next forward.”
With Camryn Bell on the ice – the Spaulding first year player had 54 goals coming into the final – the CougarHawks knew that they needed to clamp down on defense.
In the first period, Spaulding was kept under control and Bell was limited to two shots on net. CVU-MMU outshot the top-seed 11-8 and controlled play.
With Bell contained, the Crimson Tide turned to two other underclassmen to breakthrough in the second frame.
First, just one minute and 30 seconds into the second period, first year Rebecca McKelvey knocked in a rebound past CVU-MMU goalie Grace Ferguson to put Spaulding up 1-0.
A little over a minute later, sophomore Bria Dill scored from the left point to double the lead.
“We outshot them but the puck just didn’t bounce our way,” Bushweller said. “I am happy with how hard they played.”
With Spaulding in the lead, CVU-MMU had to readjust its defensive scheme and Bell was able to get loose. She jumped on a loose puck with under five minutes to play in the second for a 3-0 lead, then added her second of the game late in the third period for a 4-0 lead.
“Once we went down, we realized we had to go back to our normal game,” Bushweller said. “We went away from marking her and had our defense try and keep Cami out to the outside.”
The championship game appearance was a step forward for the co-operative program, who came into the season with 11 freshmen on the team including the goaltender Ferguson, who had never played ice hockey before the season started.
“I told them, the important thing is when you are done with this, you know you laid it all on the line,” Bushweller said. “They did that.”
With only four seniors leaving due to graduation, coach Bushweller said there is plenty to build on going forward.
“I had so much fun,” Bushweller said. “Everybody meshed and enjoyed each other’s company. As they say when they cheer, ‘two schools, one team,’ they did that this year.”