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NEWPORTâ€“The North Country girls hockey team get their post-season underway tonight when they host Rutland at the Jay Peak Ice Haus at 6:00.
It has been a fantastic year for the Falcons. They have more than doubled their previous season's win total, and made the jump from the bottom of the barrel to being one of the top teams in the Lake Division.
13-6 North Country faced off against the 10-7 Red Raiders just once this season, a 5-3 loss in Rutland.
They did a lot of good things in the loss, including getting their power-play moving in the right direction, but it still was not enough to get the win.
The girls have plenty of fire-power on offense, and have a solid quartet of defenceman, but their main concern is in goal.
Senior netminder Tara Langmaid has done well in her first season as the starting goaltender, but she will need to do the following two things if the girls want to advance through the play-offs.
1. Play with confidence. At times she looks nervous or scared, and the opposition can easily pick up this. She must believe in her own abilities and put forth an aura of self-belief that will not only help her out, but reassure her teammates as well.
2. Make she she stays with the puck. Langamid usually makes the first save, but it is the rebounds that do her in. If she can stay with the puck after that first save, it will make life a lot easier for her defenceman.
For the forwards, it is simply a matter of picking up their heads and finding the open holes. Whitney Bernier averages at least two breakaways a game, and must make the most of these chances. If there is a loose puck, her line mates have to be following her to the net to cash in on those opportunities.
The Corrina Cota, Taylor Morley, Jenna Moss line have to use each other to create space and opportunities to put the puck in the net.
On the blue line, the Falcon defenders must not try and force the puck into crowded areas. They must look around and find other options, even if it means just sending the puck into open space in the neutral zone.
Bottom line: If the Falcons play to their strengths, they should be fine. Playing a simple game and limiting their mistakes is their key to success in the year's post-season.