MANCHESTER, NH — Three weeks ago, the Bishop Brady-Trinity varsity girls ice hockey team narrowly defeated the Keene-Monadnock-Fall Mountain co-op team, 2-1.
When the two teams met again Tuesday night, this time in the first round of the playoffs at Hooksett’s Tri-Town Ice Arena, seventh-ranked Bishop Brady-Trinity (10-8) left nothing to chance, soundly dispatching the visitors from western New Hampshire, 6-1.
“We were a little nervous about it because we only finished (the regular season) 10-8, and we played them (on Feb. 12) and it was a close game, so it really came down to which goalie played better, although their goalie played fantastic, really,” said Brady-Trinity head coach Dan Earley.
Visiting goalie Briana Lucier did, indeed, play well, stopping 25 shots, but it was Bishop Brady-Trinity net minder Kacey Yorston that stole the show, The freshman made 15 saves on 16 shots, including several point-blank stops, to seal the win.
“I was hoping she’d get the shutout, but she’s been working really hard and she played great,” said Earley.
While Yorston and her defensive counterparts did their job, the team’s offense followed suit.
The Brinity Giants, as the combined team has affectionately labeled itself, paced themselves in the first period before freshman Kylie Palmeter turned a blundered pass into a quick snipe from just outside the face-off circle that found the back of the net with 1:48 remaining in the opening frame.
Carrying the one-goal advantage into the second period, the Brinity girls exploded for three more goals, the first two from sophomore Finley Hollenberg and the third from freshman Meghan Schmidt.
The locals closed out the game by lighting the lamp twice in the third period, first from freshman defender Maggie Berleth before Hollenberg completed her hat trick with just under seven minutes remaining in the contest.
Palmeter finished with one goal and three assists, Schmidt added an assist, and Berleth also produced three helpers.
“The good thing about Maggie (Berleth) is she’s a defenseman that plays like a forward, so I try to put her up at the beginning of periods at forward to get her a couple shifts flying and then I put her back (on the blue line) and she plays great D,” said Earley.
“The crazy thing is most of these girls are freshman, which I’ve never had in 13 years,” Earley continued. “They’re already playing at a high level. They don’t even know the level they’re playing at, actually … it’s fun coaching them. They listen well and they’ve already got a good hockey base, so it’s been fantastic.”
Bishop Brady-Trinity now moves on to face second-ranked Bishop Guertin (15-3) on Friday. The contest is currently scheduled for 4 p.m.
Though BG defeated the Giants 9-3 on Feb. 19, Earley is hoping to flip the script this time around. He pointed to a 5-4 Jan. 12 win at third-ranked Concord as proof his team can beat the states elite, and he hopes Tuesday’s playoff win is just the spark his team needs heading into the quarterfinal matchup.
“If this was a one-goal game, I’d be figuring out how to jump start us to get ready for Guertin, but we tried a system today that I think will work,” said Earley. “I know they’re second place and we’re seventh, but you never know … but I went to the Verizon (now SNHU Arena) against Hanover in 2015 from seventh place. Guertin is pretty ominous though, so we’re going to have to work hard for that one.”