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Girls Tier II 19U 1A National Title was Years in the Making for Hockey Club Fairbanks

By Bella Johnson, 04/07/24, 3:45PM MDT


Galilee Murray scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the third period.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — In a title game where goals came at a premium, Galilee Murray’s power play goal in the third period proved to be the difference for Hockey Club Fairbanks (AK).

Murray’s goal lifted Fairbanks to a 2-1 win against Kensington Valley Ravens (MI) in the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 19U 1A National Championship at Munn Ice Arena. 

Following the game, assistant coach Courtney Evans said the championship win was seven years in making with the older half of the Fairbanks team.

“They played a phenomenal game today, and the other team played a phenomenal game today,” Evans said. “But, I think the difference was is we played a complete game in the offensive zone, the neutral zone and the D zone. We backchecked when it mattered. We picked up sticks when it mattered. We blocked shots when it mattered. And then, we scored goals when that mattered. I think that that was the difference between us winning today and us not winning today.”

The beginning of the matchup was even, with both teams getting solid looks, but the Ravens had an early chance on the power play. The Ravens had some great looks on the advantage, but Fairbanks netminder Gennesaret Halbert was on top of her game from the jump. 

With 4:41 left in the first period, Clara Creviston broke through for Fairbanks. She ripped a shot from the blue line off a pass from Paetynn Conlon that found its home in the back of the net, and Fairbanks was up 1-0. 

Sofia Flores Watkins said following the game that that first goal is what kept them going. 

“It’s like we’re really in this,” Watkins said. “We really have a chance to get it. We have a chance to beat this team. But, we also have to hold on because we know they’re going to come back strong.”

Fairbanks outshot Kensington Valley 16-9 in the first period, but the Ravens ramped it up to start the second period.

The Ravens’ ability to win faceoffs in their offensive zone gave them opportunities to rip shots right off the top of the circle at Halbert, but she was unflappable early.

With 3:27 left in the middle frame, Scarlett Jachman netted the equalizer for the Ravens. The forward snuck one behind Halbert off an assist from Grace Garbaty to bring the game back level at 1-1.

The third period was a battle from start to finish. The pace and fervor at which both teams played showed how badly both teams wanted to pull ahead.

A breakthrough came for Fairbanks on the power play.

With just four seconds left on the advantage, Murray popped the puck over Ravens goalie Melyssa McJennett off an assist from Creviston to grab hold of the 2-1 lead with 8:07 left in the game.

In a last-ditch effort to tie the game, the Ravens pulled their goaltender with 1:14 left on the clock, but 29 saves from Halbert propelled Fairbanks to a the championship.

“I feel pretty surreal,” Halbert said. “I can’t believe I’ve been waiting for this moment for many years, and this was my very last game. I feel like I did pretty well with my rebounds so far. I was pretty solid.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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