Essex books third straight final appearance. By Ben Kaufmann and Kelly March The Essex Reporter .
After riding three power-play goals to a 5-1 win over Missisquoi on Wednesday, the top-seeded Essex Hornets clobbered Colchester, 6-0, in a Metro Division girls’ hockey semifinal Saturday.
At the bottom of the Metro standings entering the tournament, No. 9 Missisquoi (3-18-1) put up a good fight against an Essex (17-1-4) team determined to close out the season with a trophy. Amanda Conger’s second-period tally kept the Thunderbirds within two through most of the second period and Essex’s advantage on even-strength goals was just 2-1. But, still, the Hornets’ depth proved too much for Missisquoi, which skated a girl down six times.
“I thought we played them tough all the way through,” said MVU coach Matt Laroche. “You take out their power-play goals; I think they went three for six, and we knew we needed to keep (Kathleen) Young off but she hurt us early. She sees the ice well and she’s a very heads-up player.”
Essex jumped out in the first with a pair of goals from junior standout Young. Young knocked in the rebound off a Melanie Theriault shot 4:39 in and the Hornets avoided trouble when Conger’s wrister off the ensuing faceoff was deflected wide. Victoria Gibson (13 saves) stopped a wrister from MVU’s lone senior, Rachel Greenia, moments later and Young scored a highlight-reel breakaway goal with 4:43 left in the first to give Essex a 2-0 lead.
MVU goalie Hannah Bockus, whose 33 saves included a handful of highlights of her own, denied a strong Essex chance inside the final two minutes of the first to keep MVU alive.
Not able to afford losing a skater, MVU fell further behind after its first penalty of the night. Theriault’s power-play shot from the right was deflected and left Bockus no chance, putting Missisquoi in a 3-0 hole 5:36 into the second.
Conger wasted no time after the following faceoff and this time found a way past Gibson—skating from the right boards in along the goal line and ripping a shot in to make it 3-1.
Bockus came up big on Essex’s next power play later in the second and Conger, Caitlin Fortin and Olivia Thayer all came close to tipping in a loose puck that would have brought MVU within one. Instead, another penalty and a pass from behind the net from Sarah Tobey to Amanda Sienkiewicz gave Essex a commanding 4-1 lead heading into the third.
Thayer nearly tipped in a setup from Jenna Boudreau and Conger early in the second, and at the tail end of the period Kim Kosac caught back up to Young to stop a shorthanded breakaway attempt. But Sienkiewicz added her second power-play goal moments later to give the Hornets a five goal win for the second straight time against Missisquoi.
Three days later, Essex was back on the ice to take on fifth-seeded Colchester (12-9) in semifinals.
Young was crucial in that win as well, powering the team to its 6-0 victory with a pair of goals in the first period and assisting on another in the third period. Sydney LaPlant, Theriault, Bailey Gaskill and Mackenzie Burnett also tallied for the Hornets, while Sinkewicz earned three assists. Gibson made 18 saves to shutout the Lakers.
Essex took on BFA-St. Albans in finals for the second straight year at UVM’s Gutterson Fieldhouse Wednesday, after press time. The Hornets entered the game looking to avenge last season’s 3-0 shutout in the title game and clinch its second state crown in three years.