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JAYâ€“What started out as a good night ended in heartbreak for the North Country girls hockey team as Brattleboro rallied from a three goal deficit to beat the Falcons 4-3 in overtime.
"You win some and you lose some, but we still played hard" said team captain Avery Parsons-Grayson on what she said to the team after the loss.
The first period was the highlight for the Falcons. Corrina Cota got things rolling for North Country when she took a Whitney Bernier shot block and sprinted in alone on the Colonel's goalie Lou Lou Terwilliger.
She stick handled left, then right, then went glove side to beat the falling netminder.
Three minutes later Bernier scored on almost the exact same play, as once again Terwilliger was fooled into going down early and was beaten to the glove side.
Defensively in the period the Falcons were tough to beat in their own zone, allowing a stingy two shots on goalie Tara Langmaid.
In the second, the Falcons started to show signs of being just a little too over confident.
Brattleboro's Emily Wilson took the puck into the North Country end and fired a shot through the five hole to bring the score to within one just thirty seconds into the second frame.
The two teams played a fairly even period after that, and not much was going offensively for either club.
With 5:30 left to play in the period, a scary moment occurred for the Falcons.
While cycling low in the Colonel end, Crystal Moss went hard into the boards and then crumbled onto the ice with what is being called a possible collar bone or shoulder injury. Moss was transported out of the building by the EMT's, and no update has been made of her current condition.
With their teammate out, North Country picked up their pace, and Bernier netted her second of the game when she grabbed the puck at the side of the net and jammed it home to restore the two goal lead.
Brattleboro would have one last chance to score in the second, but Langmaid came up with a big blocker save at the buzzer to keep the score at 3-1.
Langmaid was sharp all game long, including at the beginning of the third when she made a great save on Wilson in the first minute of play.
"Tara played incredible," said the captain, "There is so much pressure on her. It was her second overtime game (this season) and she played so well."
However cracks were starting to show in the Falcons play. Their passing became erratic, and their breakout started to falter, allowing the Colonels more time in the NCU end.
That is exactly what happened when Maddie Rollins, a teammate of some of the Falcon girls on their Shamrock select team, grabbed the puck after it had failed to have been cleared, and went short side past Langmaid with 5:22 left to play.
"I think we got a little too comfortable, too predictable with our break outs," said coach Claude Paul, "We were only using one option, and didn't use the second option until very late in the game. They did a nice job of adjusting and taking the boards away, and we had a hard time adjusting to that."
Smelling blood, Brattleboro went right back on the attack and Wilson beat Langmaid twenty-one seconds later on a broken play that found North Country's keeper down and unable to get the puck before it crossed the line.
"I thought we came out okay, but we kind of got sloppy in the second. We thought we had them when we were up by two, but and they came back and we weren't working to our full potential," said Bernier.
The Falcons would have a chance to get the lead back when Cota and Bernier went in a two on one, but Cota was unable to get the puck over to Bernier, who was wide open, as she was taken down on a no call trip and the puck slid weekly to the net.
A quick note here. This game was the first game in a long time that I have seen played that there were no penalties called.
A lot of people, myself included, are of the opinion that the less you notice the refs, the better the officiating is.
However, there were some fairly obvious non-calls, on both teams, that should have been made.
Also, if you are going to signal icing, put your arm up and signal it. Do not give the half-hearted attempted with your arm kind of dangling there indecisively. You get paid to call the game, call the game. I used to ref hockey and soccer, so I am not just criticizing without any first hand experience. And, as a player, it is nice to know if I can coast to the puck because the whistle is going to blow, or if I need to go full speed because the play is still alive.
But I digress.
So with the score at three apiece it was time for some bonus hockey.
Last time the Falcons went to OT at the Ice Haus they beat Harwood, but this time it was the Colonels who did the celebrating when a puck that was sitting on the goal line for what seemed like an eternity was finally pushed across the line by Madison Doucette midway through the extra session to send the visitors back on the bus for a long, but happy ride down to bottom of I-91.
The players were visibly upset after the game, and Bernier verbalized the obvious angst on her face saying, "I don't like to lose and we should have worked harder for that last goal."
Paul was philosophical about the loss, noting that these defeats early in the season can have the benefits.
"It can be very important to our team, and I addressed them to the fact that you can't just throw your sticks on the ice just because you are so and so you are going to win the game.
"It doesn't matter, you have to play the forty-five minutes, the three periods all the way through. There are no easy roads. A two, three goal lead is nothing high school hockey."
The team now has over a week off before their next game, and will use the time to work on a few things before heading down to Kreitzberg Arena a week from Saturday to take on Northfield.
Game time is 5:00.