It was the classic #1 vs #2 showdown, with a club that is used to being in that situation (Nobles), against the new kids on the block (St. Paul’s).
When this classic prep school game came to an end, nothing much was settled, as #1 Nobles (24-0-1) and #2 St. Paul’s (20-0-2) played to a 1-1 standoff. One thing hockey fans can glean from this,however, is that a potential second meeting in the New England playoffs will be a dandy.
Although its streak of 47 consecutive wins comes to an end, the deadlock did benefit Nobles, which keeps its one-point lead over the Pelicans in the ISL with two games left.
“That was two great teams out there,” said Nobles coach Tom Resor. “From the start of the game until the end of overtime, that was a great game.”
St. Paul’s knows it has arrived as a program, as a tie against a team like Nobles was not satisfying.
“My kids are disappointed with the tie,” said St. Paul’s coach Heather Farrell. “They are not excited at all. We’ve played at a high level all season. I’m proud of our kids. We played well, played within our systems and competed.”
The first period was scoreless and relatively even, with no penalties called either. In the second period, Nobles defenseman Mallory Souliotis
was whistled off for hooking at the 37-second mark, and just 22 seconds later, St. Paul’s cashed in when RPI-commit Shayna Tomlinson redirected a point shot from Miriam Eickhoff along the ice past Bulldawgs goaltender Casey Nunnally.
Nobles did turn it on and outplayed the Pelicans in that second frame, but couldn’t put forth the equalizer. They had a great chance as the period came to an end, but St. Paul’s goalie Kerri St. Denis sprawled to make a save as the buzzer sounded.
“That was the first time we had trailed all season,” Resor said. “Believe it or not, that second period may have been the best period we played all year. Good thing we were able to tie it up in the third.”
The Bulldawgs started the third period on a brief carry-over power play. Becca Gilmore was stoned by St. Denis at the tail end of the power play, but the next time down the ice, she took a pass from Courtney Pensavalle in the slot, moved in and fired home a wrister to tie it at 1-1.
“We’ve been telling the kids all year that we are giving up shots,” Resor said. “They are trying to make the extra pass. We told them to get the puck low to the net. That is exactly when Becca did.”
As regulation time came to a close, Nobles thought it had the winner, when Kenzie Kent batted home a rebound with 8.7 seconds left. But, the referees ruled the puck was scored with a high stick and waved off the goal.
“Clearly it was a high stick,” Resor said. “It was a nice play, but unfortunately it was with a high stick.”
St. Paul’s regrouped in the five-minute overtime and had the best chances to score. On one play, Nunnally was able to bat a rebound out of the crease with the Pelicans at the doorstep.
“We definitely controlled the play in the overtime,” Farrell said. “We played our systems well. The kids battled, but didn’t get the puck in the net in overtime. We had our chances.
Barring any upsets, the teams should go into the post-season seeded 1 and 2 in the New England Girls Prep Division I tournament, so there is a good chance they could meet again in the title game.