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While Guilford girls’ ice hockey was honoring its seniors on Feb. 20 against rival Hand, it was also looking to fine tune its skills for a future postseason run.
The Indians pitched a 3-0 Senior Night shutout of the Tigers on Guilford’s home ice at DiLungo Rink in East Haven. Hand was able to put up a strong fight with plenty of pressure offensively, though, the Indians took the decision thanks to a trio of goals and solid play in net by junior Edy Moritz, who stopped all 27 shots by Hand on her way to the winning decision.
“I was just seeing the puck from point to point, as well as seeing the players around me in front of the net,” said Moritz. “I was also talking to my defensemen, which helped also, because communication is key. Our defense did a really good job of clearing rebounds, and again, talking is a big thing on that. We were just passing on pucks as fast as we could and able to keep the puck out of the net.”
Despite Guilford being outshot, 27-24, for the evening, it notched two quick first-period tallies 18 seconds apart prior to grabbing some added insurance with just under seven minutes remaining in the contest, as the Indians prevailed on a night that they honored their pair of seniors in Angelica Hurteau and tri-captain Zoe Bosenberg.
“This is a pretty good win considering it is Senior Night and against Hand, plus we hadn’t won on Senior Night in a while, but that’s what hard work by the entire team does” said Bosenberg, who assisted on the final score. “Just the fact that we put in as many people as we could was good for us. We changed up the lines and that helped keep us on guard and really pay attention to what we were doing out there.”
After an early exchange of possessions by both squads, Guilford (11-6) struck first at the 11:12 mark when junior tri-captain Nicole Raccuia dished the puck from behind the net to freshman Lexi Cafiero, who shot it in to the right side of Hand (2-14) senior netminder Erin Splain. At 10:54, the Indians made it a two-score game when Catherine Lawrence scored on a breakaway strike.
“Overall, it was a good performance; I like getting the less-experienced players out there in games like this to practice the skills they’re working on,” said Head Coach Gil Schaper. “I was hoping to see a little bit more out of both our experienced and less-experienced players, but I was happy for the seniors. Both of them had good shifts, and Zoe got a point, which was nice for her.”
While they were down two, the Tigers played strong, as Splain made big stops on both Raccuia and Lawrence to wind down a first period that saw both clubs even on shots at 10 a side.
Hand began the second with offensive aggression with continuous pressure on Moritz in traffic around the goal. Guilford freshman Alexa Petritz sped down the ice on a solo rush, yet she was denied before junior Emily Soboleski and sophomore Emily Banasiak had a good set up on the doorstep that was stopped. The Tigers saw two power-play chances, first, midway through the frame and then another that overlapped from the second into the third, although they couldn’t net the score.
In the third, the Indians started to create a few more chances, and their persistence paid off with 6:58 to play when Bosenburg found Raccuia for a 3-0 Guilford edge. Even down three late, Hand continued to play out the string and hustle for chances until the final whistle, but it was not enough to take the victory away from the Indians.
“Edy played fantastic; they could have easily put one of two of those shots in, which wouldn’t have surprised me, but Edy is kind of the core of our defense,” said Schaper. “We have been struggling with defensive-zone coverage, so again that’s something we will be trying to tighten before the playoffs.”
Following the SCC Division I Tournament, which will be played on Monday, February 24 and Wednesday, February 26, Guilford sets its sights on the state tournament that plays out from Monday, March 3 to Saturday, March 8.
“I’d like to work on our power play a little bit. I mean watching the Olympics, you can see the fantastic level of skill and knowledge of the game, and I think we need to work on knowing what to do with the puck when we have it,” said Schaper, whose team plays East Catholic on Monday, February 24 in a SCC semifinal in Newington at 4 p.m. “There are times in games when the play breaks down for something that is easily doable, and because of either lack of focus or just a lapse, it doesn’t get done. We will be trying to focus on making solid passes to the stick and getting the puck deep and to the net when we need to.”