JAYâ€“After back to back years of thrilling overtime wins and crushing lopsided defeats against Mount Mansfield, the North Country girls hockey team finally had their revenge, dominating the Cougars in a 6-3 win Thursday night.
"It was great," said assistant coach Tracy Muzerall, who has felt the Cougars' bite in the past, "Every year every teams' dynamic is different and this year we have a great group of girls and a great group of freshman who are stepping up to the plate and playing lead roles on the team."
It did not take long for the Falcons to find the back net, scoring just 1:01 into the opening period. Corrina Cota picked off a MMU clearing attempt and fed the puck to Ashley Daigle high in the slot. Daigle fired a low wrister that slid underneath Cougar keeper Autumn Hallock for her first career varsity goal.
"The puck got loose, I saw the opportunity, took advantage of it, and luckily Corrina was there to screen the goalie. I never thought things would happen like we what we do in practice, but it did and it all worked out," said Daigle.
"She was so excited," said Cota, "She deserved it and she deserves a lot more than that."
One minute later Whitney Bernier grabbed a Cota rebound and flung it over a sprawling Hallock to give the Falcons an early two goal advantage.
While producing on offense in the first, North Country was also taking care of business defensively.
Coach Paul's girls did an excellent job of deploying a layered defense to prevent pucks from getting to their keeper Tara Langmaid. In fact it was so productive that the Cougars did not register a shot on goal at all in the opening fifteen minutes.
Late in the period the line of Crystal Moss, Taylor Morley, and Madison Mosher went to work, running a tight cycle in the Cougar zone.
Morley would head to the front of the net where the puck found her stick and she wasted no time in giving the Falcons a three goal lead before they headed off the ice for the first intermission.
In the second North Country went right back to work as Adrianna Fournier picked up the scraps of an Emilie Paul and Morley 2 on 1 and buried it to put the lead at 4 with still two-thirds of the game left to play.
Langmaid would be tested in the second, with her biggest save coming with 4:40 left to play in the period, stopping a Kyra Raftery break away.
Twenty seconds later the NCU keeper got her name on the score sheet as a MMU rebound was cleared away by Bernier and grabbed by Cota who turned on the jets and flew in on Hallock all alone and sent one top shelf, making a Cougar comeback almost impossible.
But Mount Mansfield was going to try.
Borrowing from the North Country playbook, it was the Cougars scoring early in the third when a shot by Lita Frank hit Langmaid's stick and deflected up and into the net to end the chance of a shut-out.
A minute later the five goal lead was restored on Cota's second goal of the game, a low shot that somehow found a hole and went in. This season Cota has been paired up with an old friend in Bernier, who she has played with on select teams in the past, and their on ice chemistry is a great thing to watch.
"I love it," she said about being reunited with her former teammate,"We've played together on our Shamrock team before and it is nice to have her back."
Molly Burke added two more goals late (and was originally credited with the first goal, but that was changed for some reason) but it would make no difference as the the Falcons held on for the 6-3 win.
Next up for North Country will be a trip to the Civic Center in Montpelier to face the U-32 Raiders tomorrow night. Puck drops at