BURLINGTON -- After two regular season games couldn’t separate them, Burr and Burton Academy girls hockey coach Ed Lewicki knew all along that the Lake Division final on Wednesday night between his Bulldogs and Middlebury would come down to whoever got the best bounces.
His words proved prophetic, as Middlebury’s Sara Boe scored the eventual game-winning goal on a scramble in front of the net midway through the second period of a 2-1 Tigers’ win, Middlebury’s first ever girls state title in hockey.
"The game-winner comes on a faceoff, the puck goes into the air and she swats at it and it goes on," Lewicki said. "I’m proud of my team Š it hurts right now, but they can go home and say they left everything on the ice."
With Middlebury leading by a goal heading into the third period, BBA turned up the wick with a ton of pressure against the Tiger defense and especially goalie Bailey Ryan.
BBA outshot Middlebury 13-1 in the final 15 minutes (25-14 overall), hitting a post and nearly knocking in rebounds that hit off Ryan’s chest in the crease. But try as they might, the Bulldogs were close but couldn’t light the lamp.
"We dominated the third and put Middlebury under a tremendous amount of pressure, but their goalie came up big," said Lewicki, whose team ends its season at 18-4-2. "She was standing on her head in the third.
Both teams came out of the locker room aggressive and looking to score early. Six minutes in, Boe did just that for the Tigers, controlling a rebound in front and putting it past Kaylie Benson (12 saves) off an assist from Allison White.
"The shot came from the point and I got the rebound," said the senior Boe.
BBA fought back immediately, taking advantage of a Julia Carone hooking penalty. Looking for the right outlet, Ryder Ferrone hit a wicked wrister past Ryan to tie the game at 1 as the Bulldog faithful roared. Daisy Sullivan and Megan Grabher were credited with assists.
"I thought the play in the first was even and after they scored, we started to possess the puck a little better," Lewicki said.
In the second, Middlebury took the early advantage, pressuring Benson to make a handful of saves. Then about halfway through the period, on a faceoff in the BBA zone, the Tigers won it and got the puck toward Boe, who smacked it past Benson for the lead.
"I just managed to get a stick on it and knock it in, it was more a flurry," Boe said.
Julia Carone and leading scorer Timi Carone were credited with the assist. Carone was blanked in the goal department, but made her presence felt.
"I couldn’t man Carone, so Boe scores too. They have too many weapons," Lewicki said.
BBA got three power play opportunities in the third and four for the game, but could only hit on the first one.
"They had some great goaltending and when that happens, you win," Lewicki said.
Middlebury won its first crown in its first appearance in the final since 2004.
"It’s amazing, I couldn’t be happier," Boe said. "We’ve been more and more competitive and to go out this way is awesome."
Lewicki said as the game wound down, he told his team during a timeout that he was proud of the effort, whether they tied the game or not.
"It’s good for [Middlebury’s] seniors to go out that way, but I’m sad for my seniors [Clara Berard. Mary Leech and Morgan Bazyk]," Lewicki said. "It’s a tough way to end, but everyone played their hearts out."
The runner-up marks two of the last three years with BBA in the final and with a fairly young team, Lewicki said he hopes to be back next year.
"We have lots of young kids, we just have to work hard to get back," Lewicki said.