The North Eastern girls high school varsity ice hockey team traveled to Laurel last week, seeking a second straight Maryland Student Hockey League (MSHL) championship.
The local club took on Howard at the Gardens Ice House on Thursday and in double overtime, claimed its second consecutive title with a 3-2 win.
This was North Eastern’s third consecutive appearance in the MSHL championship game. “The arena was loud as the game was played in front of a packed rink with fans standing all around the rink,” coach Brian Reider said. “From the drop of the first to the final game winning goal the action was fast and intense that had every fan on the edge of their seat and left them speechless after the game.”
On North Eastern’s second shift of the game the trio of Molly Cain, Heather Reider and Michele Radov pressured a turnover and they maneuvered the puck up ice into Howard’s end, only to have the opposing goalie make back-to-back stellar saves.
After a scoreless first period, Howard opened the scoring at 3:31 of the second period on a tally from senior forward Toni Smith, the league’s leading goal scorer. Smith’s goal was all the scoring through two periods, with Howard outshooting North Eastern, 27-17.
The intensity truly picked up in the third period and 4:16 into the period, North Eastern’s Bella Donovan won a board battle behind her own goal and was subsequently able to give an outlet pass to Tori Hayes. Hayes raced end-to-end, cutting across the ice as she entered the offensive zone on the right side. As she reached the top of the face-off circle, she ripped a shot over the goalie’s right shoulder into the top corner of the net, tying the game 1-1.
Two minutes later, Howard scored a controversial goal, resulting from a mad scramble in front of the North Eastern goal. The goal seemed to come after the whistle had been blown, but after a three-minute game delay and multiple referee huddles, the goal was allowed to stand and Howard was back ahead, 2-1.
With 6:40 left in the game, North Eastern tied the game on a wicked goal by Guin Donovan. Donovan won a face-off in the offensive end and the puck was worked back to Audrey Roberts, who fired a shot on goal. Donovan took the rebound, fed a pass to Rylan Sachs, who in turn gave it right back to Donovan. Donovan cut to the front of the goal where she was able to slide a backhand shot past the goalie.
Howard still held an edge in shots, 41-25, as regulation time ended.
Both teams’ goalies stood tall in the first overtime as each stopped every shot faced. Northeastern led in shots on goal in the OT, 8-6.
The best scoring chance was owned by North Eastern three minutes in. Radov raced down the ice, out maneuvered her defender, faked out the goalie to create a wide-open net, only to have the puck deflect off and over the crossbar.
The second OT period did not last long. Just 21 seconds into the period, Hayes ended the game with her second goal to start the celebration.
Howard actually won the face-off, but Roberts intercepted a Howard pass in her defensive zone and slid the puck to Hayes. Hayes entered the offensive zone, stick handled past one defender to reach the top of the circle where a second defender made the mistake of giving her too much time and space.
Hayes fired a bullet over the left shoulder of the Howard goalie and into the back of the net to seal the championship victory.
North Eastern ends the season 13-3-2.
North Eastern’s 12 seniors ended their high school ice hockey careers on a winning note. Six of the 12 seniors Monica Mumma (Eastern Tech), Morgan Kovacic (C. Milton Wright), Anna Stamatos (Park School), Michele Reynoso (Catholic High), Charlotte Labre (C. Milton Wright) and Heather Reider (Harford Tech) were members of the team for the past three years. They won two titles and were runners-up with an overall record of 34-8-3.
The remaining six seniors joined the North Eastern teams after the inaugural season of 2019-20. They are Audrey Roberts (Harford Tech), Molly Re (Harford Tech), Rylan Sachs (NDP), Molly Cain (NDP), Guin Donovan (Patterson Mill) and Isabella Donovan (Newark Charter).