NEWINGTON â€• Defensive lapses derailed a late comeback attempt for the Nighthawks girls ice hockey co-op (Avon, Newington, Berlin, Plainville, Southington, RHAM, Coventry, Lewis Mills, Wethersfield), as the team allowed two goals at the end of the third period after already trailing 3-2.Â
The Nighthawks 5-2 loss came at the hands of the Hall-Conard co-op, which they beat 4-3 on Dec. 18. They never led during Wednesday nightâ€™s contest, but entered the final period tied 2-2 and surrendered a trio of goals.
Senior Ana Haubrich netted the War Chiefsâ€™ game-winning goal five seconds into a power play early in the third period. This was Hall-Conardâ€™s first goal in nearly 30 minutes of play and it succeeded in taking advantage of the Nighthawksâ€™ mistakes as they became more frantic to add to the lead.Â
â€śAt the end we tried to do too much individual carrying around [of the puck], we turned it over and they put it in the back of the net,â€ť Nighthawks head coach Mike Carrera said.Â
Three goals came in the first five minutes of play before both defenses locked up for the remainder of the period. Hall-Conard jumped out to an immediate two-goal lead with goals from Bridget McGann and Maggie Samela.
McGann put the War Chiefs on the scoreboard first, netting a slick wrist shot from the right wing. Samela scored shortly after to double her teamâ€™s lead, but sophomore forward Morgan Carrera quickly responded for the Nighthawks to keep them close.Â
The scoreboard did not change again until deep into the second period as both defenses kept the puck moving up and down the ice without letting the opposing offenses put many shots on net. Even once the teams adjusted to how they were being defended, they were still stopped from scoring by skillful individual efforts from the goaltenders.Â
â€śWe have to play a much better team game defensively,â€ť Carrera said. â€śWe got a little loose for the first couple of minutes, but then we tightened it up so we were okay after that.â€ť
Hall-Conard found the best scoring opportunities it had seen early in the game, but were stopped from adding to their lead by a pair of athletic saves from Nighthawks senior Ellie-May Lacasse.Â
The Nighthawks started finding some quality shots soon after, but they were stopped by Hall-Conard goaltender Sophia Levesque. Starting to build a rhythm, the Nighthawks got the advantage they needed when they received a power play from an elbowing penalty against Anna Kahl. Junior Sophia Nower tied the score for the Nighthawks with five minute remaining in the second period off assists from Nicole Partridge and Shelby Little.Â
â€śOur power play is really good, we move it really well,â€ť Carrera said. â€śWhen we get a chance, we can usually bury them.â€ť
The War Chiefs took the lead back on their lone power play of the day when Little went to the penalty box for checking and Haubrich had her first goal the day five seconds after play resumed.Â
The Nighthawks pursued their equalizer for much of the period, but struggled at times to maintain possession of the puck and Haubrich went coast-to-coast and beat Lacasse to double Hall-Conardâ€™s lead late in the period. Another mishap from the Nighthawks gave Kahl her first goal of the game 22 seconds later.
â€śWe got away from what we do well, which is move the puck,â€ť Carrera siad. â€śThey were trying to carry it around and you canâ€™t carry it around five players.â€ť
The three-goal deficit forced Carrera to pull Lacasse in exchange for a sixth skater and quickly cut the War Chiefsâ€™ lead back to two, courtesy of a goalf from Little. Unfortunately for the night hawks even an extra player in the offensive zone could not erase a three-goal deficit in two minutes.
Up next for the Nighthawks is a road contest with Woodstock Academy (1-4-2) at 6 p.m. on Friday.Â
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com
HALL-CONARD 5, NIGHTHAWKS 3
At Newington Arena
Nighthawks 1Â 1Â 1 - 3
Hall-Conard 2Â 0Â 3 - 5
Goals: Bridget McGann (HC), Maggie Samela (HC), Morgan Carrera (N), Sophia Nower (N), Ana Haubrich (HC) 2, Anna Kahl (HC), Shelby Little (N).
Assists: Anna Kahl (HC), Grace Ganey (HC) 2, Sam Haubrich (HC) 2, Layla Miller (N) 2, Kalyn Reynolds (N), Nicole Partridge (N), Shelby Little (N), Bridget McGann (HC), Maggie Samela (HC), Bella Bonfiglio (N).
Records: Nighthawks 9-3-2, War Chiefs 9-4-1.