BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Less than a month after opposing one another for the Vermont Division I girls’ high school crown, Vermont Shamrocks teammates Riley Yandow of BFA St. Albans High and goalie Vika Simons of state champion Essex High School found themselves lifting the 2016 Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 19U National Championships winners’ plaque at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, Vermont.
Yandow scored the game-winner from an improbable angle 7:08 into overtime to seal the deal for the Shamrocks in a 2-1 thriller over the sharp-skating Connecticut Northern Lights.
“I saw a rebound and went for it,” Yandow said. “It was a backhand and it was lucky that it went in.”
The final score reflected the back-and-forth play of the game.
“It could have gone both ways,” Yandow admitted. “They were a very good team. I think we outworked them a little. I knew the winning goal was probably not going to be pretty, would probably be a dirty goal. It was very exciting to win for our hometown fans.”
Yandow authored the Shamrocks first goal just she had scored the first goal in Vermont’s 4-1 semifinal win over the Massachusetts Spitfires the night before.
Meanwhile, Simons was a rock in front of the Shamrocks goal. Many of her 18 saves came during the second period when Connecticut was surging.
The Lights’ Ellie Kraus, a force to be reckoned with in front, scored on the power play at 11:44 of the middle period. Kraus reached a long way for the puck and then flipped it over Simons’ shoulder with her back to the net. Gabby Roy and Maddie Gervais assisted on the play.
Vermont visited the penalty box three times in the second period.
Gervais, Maddie Giordano and Maddie Bishop shined for Connecticut, skillfully evading defenders with bursts through zones, excellent stick-handling and big-hearted defense.
Giordano was victimized by Simons several times. Once Giordano made a lightning-quick swirl around a defender for a close range bid that Simons managed to flick away.
“We should have three or four goals by now,” coach Dan Giordano said after the second period.
“This is amazing,” Simons said amidst the post-game celebration. “I can’t begin to express what I’m feeling. The second period was tough. I just tried to put my whole body into it.”
Simons, who’s headed to the University of Minnesota Duluth next fall, said that having some bad luck in overtimes this season crossed her mind.
Yandow was joined by four other BFA-St. Albans teammates on the Shamrocks roster: Aliza Ellis, Makenna Larrow, Kaitlin Laroe and Emma Hill.
“The St. Albans kids are a force,” Shamrocks coach Pat Burke said. “You don’t get fed supper at night up there if you aren’t a fierce back-checker. But we got help from everybody. Mikaella Doran also gave us great goaltending.”
Burke made sure to credit two players that traveled from the Brattleboro area in the southern end of the state, Alyssa Roof and Ellie Todd-Long.
“They had to travel a lot. They really wanted it,” he said.
Other Shamrock players that factored significantly included defenseman Jordyn Michaud of U-32 High School and Anna Burke of Mount Mansfield Union High School, who opposed each other in the Division II finals. Dakota Bilodeau of Colchester, Jessie Scott of Barre and Spaulding High School, Kate Hall of South Burlington High, Ricki Haab of Stowe, Kailie Matteson of Rutland, Avery MacGillivray of Essex, and Katie Matott of Beekmantown (N.Y.) High also stood out. Matott had a hat trick in the semifinals.
Northern Lights goalie Hannah Stone had an excellent game, stopping 33 of 35 shots on goal.
“My girls played hard,” coach Giordano said. “Vermont had a little more size and strength and mobility than our other opponents, and they wore us down a bit.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.