JAY–Down 2-1 at the end of the first period, the North Country girls, on the strength of some new line-up combinations, rallied to pick up the 5-4 win over Middlebury on Saturday night.
“I think offensively it gave us a little spark. We now have two lines that are working really well, it is not so much one line putting the puck in the net, we can spread it out,” said Paul of his new units play on Saturday.
The two teams have a history, as it was Middlebury who rallied from being two goals down to defeat North Country in the opening round of the play-offs last season. In the waning moments of that encounter, Corrina Cota suffered a concussion at the hands of Middlebury's Laura Galenkamp, and the girls in white were looking for a little pay-back.
Although the Falcons started well, it was Middlebury who won the race to the scoreboard.
Sara Boe had the puck behind the North Country net, and sent it out front to Nora McLaughlin who put it in the open right side of the net.
Three minutes later Whitney Bernier received the puck near her own blue line from Adrianna Fournier, and put on a beautiful display as she weaved her way through the Tiger's defense. She drove hard down the left side of the ice into Middlebury's end, blew past a Tiger defender, cut across the the middle, and buried it top shelf to knot the game at one.
Along with Fournier, Avery Parsons-Grayson would also pick up an assist on the goal.
The Tigers would not be deterred in the first, as Maria Ploof took advantage of a Tara Langmaid give-away, and buried the puck with 26.5 seconds left to play in the opening frame to give the Tigers the lead heading into the intermission.
Four minutes into the second, the newly combined line of Cota, Taylor "Crease" Morley, and Jenna Moss all had a hand in generating and scoring the tying goal.
Cota chipped the puck out her zone, grabbed the it in the neutral zone, and headed down the ice. She flung that little piece of volcanized rubber over to Morley who put it on net. Moss came swooping in behind her to put the puck past Middlebury keeper Ashley Howlett.
Bernier nearly put the Falcons ahead right after the Moss goal, but was denied on the breakaway.
The two teams would trade penalties, and during the NCU penalty-kill, Emilie Paul really started to shine. She was calm under pressure, positioned well, and when given the opportunity, consistently got the puck out of the Falcon end.
Said the Coach, “Emilie has always been able to play a lot of minutes going up through. She has a very large lung capacity, and if you watch her play, you can tell when she is conserving energy and when she is really putting it out there."
She would be clutch for the Falcons throughout the game, especially late in the contest when they would need her the most.
Just moments after the Middlebury penalty expired, Bernier took another Fournier feed, whizzed by the recently penalized player Galenkamp, and went in alone to put the Falcons up 3-2 with 3:58 left to play.
“I think Whitney is definitely taking the role of leading her line, she's really pushing it,” said Paul of Bernier's new role with her new line mates.
The trio of Bernier, Fournier, and Ashley Daigle had something going on Saturday, as they teamed up for a combined for seven points on the night.
Feeling the energy in the building, Morley and Cota went in 2-on-1 and Morley slid a picture perfect pass over to Cota who one timed the puck past Howlett.
Up 4-2 at the start of the third period, North Country scored what would end up as the eventual game winner when Fournier put home a loose puck for her third point of the night.
Leading by three goals with thirteen minutes left to play sounds pretty safe right?
Not so fast.
Middlebury would hear none of that, and thirty six seconds later it was back to just a two goal lead for the Falcons courtesy of Ploof’s second of teh game.
Theresa Huestis made it a one goal game with just under six minutes left in the period, and it looked like the Falcons were reeling.
Once that puck went in, Emilie Paul did not leave the ice for the rest of the game.
“If I know that I am not coming off the ice, I try to not as skate as hard when I don't need to, and of course, skate as hard as I can when I need to,” said the freshman.
She would certainly need to manage her strength as North Country shortened their bench and went about the task of shutting down the Middlebury attack.
Coach Paul, sensing his girls were tiring, made the smart call, using his lone time-out with 2:33 left to give his skaters a rest.
North Country was taking no chances. With two and half minutes left to play, Paul sent out his power-play unit of Morley, Cota, Bernier, Campbell, and Paul for the remainder of the game, and along with some great goaltending from Langmaid, they wrapped up the win for the now 7-3 Falcons.
In an ironic twist, it would be Galenkamp who was carted away from the rink by EMT's during the third period after suffering a knee injury on seemingly harmless encounter with Morley. Call it Karma or what ever, but what goes around does occasionally come back around.
Now, bolstered by a nice rebound win after that tough loss to MVU, the girls will be the front end of hockey double-header on Wednesday when they take on Woodstock at 5:00 in Jay. The boys will follow with a 7:00 match-up with CVU.