Thursday January 31, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The last time the Colonels varsity girls hockey team challenged Northfield, it was on Northfield’s rink, an Olympic-sized surface that Brattleboro had a hard time adjusting to, given its width and speed. This time around, the Colonels were the hosts, and while they fell again, 3-1, to the visitors, it was obvious the purple and white had learned from previous mistakes.

"We improved on getting the puck out of their zone," said Brattleboro coach Linda Burke. "It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective."

The strategy for Brattleboro in the sequel was to be more aggressive, without overextending themselves, to force Northfield’s forwards out to the boards, instead of letting them dribble down the middle.

It worked. At least to some degree.

While Northfield spent a good deal of its time in the Colonels’ offensive zone, the the team’s defense did a much better job protecting.

Even Northfield’s coach, Chris Amell, could agree.

"You’ve got to hand it to Burke," said Amell, whose team beat the Colonels, 7-1, in their prior contest. "Brattleboro looked much better this time around; they’ve definitely improved."

Logan Lamb buried Northfield’s first goal -- a lengthy distance from the point in the first period with four on the clock, with the assist from Libby Start. Adjusting to the Colonel offense, Lamb provided solid checking to keep Brattleboro’s forwards away from the center.

In similar defensive fashion, Maddie Rollins did her share of blocking and clearing the Northfield puck. The Brattleboro senior captain took a handful of shots in the first period, often alone and out front, but it was hard for Rollins to find an opening with two or three or more Marauder defenders blocking the view.

Northfield put away its next goal in the second period, with the attack from Claudia Gee, unassisted. Brattleboro goalie Alex Fellows gloved a few incoming scuds to prevent further damage.

With complete control, Rollins razored across the top of the zone to wrist in Brattleboro’s lone goal, unassisted, early in the third. Northfield’s Anouck Hakvoort and Lamb came close to scoring again, but Fellows denied them.

"Our players never quit," said Burke. "(That attitude) is not something you can coach them -- it’s something they have to arrive with."

Left wing Kristen Dukette caught a break, then went end-to-end to score the Marauder’s final goal in the third.

Northfield took 42 shots on net, while the Brattleboro team took 11.

Fellows had help up front all afternoon from Meyru Bhanti, Lou Lou Terwilliger, Rebecca Potter, Madison Doucette, and Kellie Schiller. Schiller, Terwilliger and Asha Dimatteo-Lepape ganged up for a series of Colonel scoring attempts, and got close to knotting it up. Doucette made some stunning blocks and deflections on defense as Northfield pushed back.

"Northfield is a quick team," said Burke. "If you make one mistake, they’re going to make you pay."

The 3-8 Colonels will host Rutland on Saturday at 4:45 p.m.

David Aquino can be reached at daquino@reformer.com, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.