MANCHESTER — The Burr and Burton Academy girls hockey team started the season with a win, then went 11 games without getting another. Since then they have been on a roll, including knocking off the top two teams in Division II. They hit the trifecta Saturday when they defeated the third-place team in a 3-1 victory over Missisquoi.
"We had a core of about five skaters from last year," said BBA coach Ed Lewicki. "Our new girls started slow, but they've really come along and are contributing."
BBA star forward Aggie Bisselle has been the best player in the league all season and showed why when she put the Bulldogs up 1-0 just after the first minute of the game, her 38th of the season.
"It's her speed," said Missisquoi coach Wynn Paradee. "We knew coming in about her wheels, so we backed in farther than normal. She used the defenseman as a screen and the deflected shot went in."
MVU rebounded and created some good chances, the best opportunity by Shania Gagne. "I was alone in front," Gagne said. "But by the time I settled the bouncing puck, a girl lifted my stick. I got the shot off but it wasn't high enough to get over her."
The Thunderbirds got the equalizer early in the second. Off a faceoff, Olivia Thayer drew the puck back to the point. Mae Gates rifled a low shot back in through the screen set up by Thayer. The puck went by goalie Molly Dingley, who never moved. Thayer was credited with the score.
MVU played a better second period and part of that was getting used to the Olympic-size ice at Riley Rink. For a team that plays in Highgate on the smallest ice, playing on the biggest at Riley Rink created problems.
"It's a lot farther from the corners to the goal," said Gagne." But it's easier to go around people."
Defenseman Emily Fournier took a different view. "The shooting angles from the point are so much different," Fournier said. "In the offensive zone it helped us because we could pinch in more."
Each team had 14 shots after two periods. In the third, zone time favored MVU but the shots certainly didn't. The Thunderbirds were credited with only one shot while the Bulldogs had seven, two of those going in.
The game looked to be headed to overtime with neither team mounting much pressure. Then with three minutes left, Charleigh Carthy carried the puck around the net and nobody was there to meet her on the other side. Carthy took two shots, the second getting by goalie Mikayla Hull, and the score was 2-1.
The Thunderbirds had a chance when the Bulldogs took a penalty with two minutes left. They pulled the goalie with 90 seconds to go to create a six-on-four. But Bisselle got control and scored her 39th of the year into the empty net with just under a minute left to seal it.
Hull had 20 saves and Dingley had 14 stops.
MVU drops to 10-7-2, and can wrap up the third spot with a win against last-place Harwood on Wednesday. BBA improves to 6-10-3 and finishes the regular season on Wednesday.