BERLIN — The Berlin-Gorham girls’ hockey team beat Bishop Guertin, 5-2, on Saturday night at the Notre Dame Arena.
With a large crowd on hand, both teams seemed equally talented, and it showed as they traded goals, were tied three times, at 0-0, 1-1 and 2-2, before Berlin-Gorham scored three unanswered goals to win and up their record to 2-1-1, while Bishop Guertin dropped to 1-2.
It took a total of 18 minutes to play 15 minutes of hockey in the initial period, as the pace was fast with very few stoppages in play, only two penalties, and two goals, one by each team.
Exactly midway through that period, Sophia Schoenbeck took the puck behind her own net, used her speed and stick-handling skills to take the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive end on a break-away only to have it called back due to an offside violation.
Later, the host Mountaineers opened up the scoring when, at 11:05, amongst a huge scramble in front of the net, Haley Hamilton poked the puck into the net, with assists going to Trinity Gendron and Jillian Hallee.
Three minutes later, the Cardinal’s Lindsey Hult scored while teams were at four-on-four due to separate penalties on each team.
Shots on goal were pretty close too with the visitors having a 9-7 advantage.
Berlin-Gorham had some chances in Period 2, especially with Becca Pouliot, who just missed a tip-in at 1:55, and then near the 7-minute mark Gendron had a tremendous end-to-end rush that also just missed, as goalie Sara King had a nice save to preserve the tie.
But, at 9:24, the Mountaineers took a 2-1 lead when Sidney Chapman sent the puck to the stick of Pouliot who one-timed it into the back of the net.
That lead lasted for 1 minute and 15 seconds until Julie McLaughlin tied things up again at 2.
Both Hamilton and Pouliot had a couple of great chances, one just missing a near-side opening and the other when the puck slowly slid across the crease and just past the pin.
Both teams went into the locker room tied with two points each.
The Cardinals had a two-shot-on-goal advantage (12-10) in the period.
At the 3:18 mark of the final period, Jillian Hallee got what proved to be the winning goal when she picked up a loose puck near the red line, used her speed to skate in alone and tucked the puck into the near side for the 3-2 lead. It was an unassisted goal.
The hosts got a “cushion” goal when, at 5:25, Mickailey Walsh scored with help from Grace Bradley and Chapman to up the score to 4-2. But then Bishop Guertin picked up the pace a bit, and had numerous chances to tie things up and even go ahead, but Berlin-Gorham goalie Natalie Williams stood tall in the net and denied them constantly, including in a three-minute span, five or six saves, some extraordinary.
Walsh had another chance at a goal on a partial breakaway that was saved by King.
However, at the 9:51 mark, Bryn Dube worked hard to control the puck, skated the puck up the right wing side and made a nice little perfect pass to Hamilton who promptly deposited it into the opponent’s goal for a 5-2 lead, which seemed to give everyone, fans and players alike, some breathing room.
The Cardinals, however, did not give up or give in; instead they picked up the pace, and with a bit of a defensive let-down by the hosts, swarmed around the net like a hive of disturbed yellow jackets under the dash of an old truck.
Credit Natalie Williams for preserving that lead as she was extremely busy stopping pucks, including four point-blank shots in the space of about one minute.
Things got a bit disorderly as both teams committed some unnecessary penalties, including a matching penalty, and one Cardinal got a five-minute major penalty for checking, late in the period, which is not allowed in Division I Girls’ hockey.
Hamilton worked hard in the latter part of that period and had two great chances to add to her goal total but to no avail.
Berlin-Gorham’s Natalie Williams was my No. 1 star of the game with 30 saves, while King had 21.
The Mountaineers’ next game is at the Notre Dame Arena on Jan. 2 against ConVal-Conant at 6 p.m.