MANCHESTER — Every game is significant in a high school season. Teams are constantly jockeying for playoff position and trying to better themselves each time they play.
Yet, all of those outside pressures seemed to take a backseat Wednesday night inside Riley Rink as Burr and Burton girls hockey hosted the Hartford Hurricanes. The game carried much more significance than a tally in the win column; It was the annual “pink the rink” game — a tradition started a few years back that raises funds to support a local family in their fight against breast cancer.
BBA alumnus Nate Severance wanted to honor his mother Hope — who battled breast cancer — and created the first “pink the rink” event a few years ago. Hope lost her battle to the disease, but her memory lives on through the annual event.
This year’s game benefited the family of Niki Burnham, a beloved kindergarten teacher at Monument Elementary who died to the disease Jan. 15.
"We always try to stress to the kids how important giving is to us," said BBA coach Ed Lewicki. "They've put a lot into this."
Riley Rink certainly was pink Wednesday. Everywhere you looked, you were reminded of the bigger picture. The Bulldogs rocked special pink sweaters, the boards were lined with pink ribbons put up by the BBA players prior to the game — even the visiting Hurricanes donned pink socks to show their support.
On the ice, it was Burr and Burton coming away with a 2-1 win on a late score in a back and forth affair.
With less than two minutes remaining, Skylar Smith fed a pass directly to the stick of Kaya Elizabeth Pederson that beat the back line of the Hartford defense. Pederson and Mai-Liis Edwards found themselves on a 2-on-1 opportunity with Hartford goalie Nella Bowen. As Pederson neared the net, she dumped the puck to Edwards who came up with the eventual game-winner, burying it in the back of the net.
BBA started the scoring at the 4:30 mark of the first period on a Skylar Smith score. The junior forward/defender was the beneficiary of a scum in front of the Hartford net, as Katie Brownlee sent a shot at Bowen, who stopped the puck but was unable to cover it up. That led to the majority of both teams battling for the puck, which was eventually poked in by Smith.
Brownlee provided lots of pressure on the Hurricanes net in the first period. In the second, it was Hurricanes captain Sophie Trombley returning the favor. The Hartford senior controlled the puck for much of the period, and knotted the game at 1-1 with her goal less than two minutes into the period. She beat one defender on a breakaway and finished the chance by beating BBA goalie Cyra Pacher for the score.
Pacher came up huge in the final minute, as Hartford pulled its goalie in search of the tying score. She stood tall, making five saves in the final minute as BBA held on for the victory.