Two revenge-minded teams will meet at Gallo Ice Arena tomorrow night.
The Falmouth High School girls’ ice hockey team (18-1-2) wants another shot at the state championship, and would like nothing more than to have an opportunity to get that title by beating rival Duxbury at the TD Garden. To get to that point, though, Falmouth will have to avoid being ousted by a team that wants a shot at them, badly, Westwood High (13-6-3).
The puck is set to drop at 7:45 PM. Duxbury and Methuen/Tewskbury do battle in the prior game, at 5:30 PM. On their way to the state championship game a year ago, Falmouth eliminated Westwood High School in the semifinals, taking a 3-2 decision at the same building they’ll be in tomorrow. Then, to start off the new year, the clubs met this season at the Falmouth Ice Arena as they played the first-ever high school hockey game in the sparkling new building. The Clippers won that game by a single goal as well, 2-1. Based on the brackets, the Clippers are supposed to be here, and the Wolverines are not.
FHS, seeded No. 2 in Division 2, and ranked third in the state, blew out Boston Latin, 5-0, in round one and then took down Norwood in the quarterfinals, 6-3. Westwood was the 11th seeded team in the south, although they are ranked No. 22 in the state, and nearly didn’t get out of the preliminary round. WHS needed overtime to beat Concord-Carlisle, 2-1, but have since ousted Sandwich, 5-3, and a very good Wellesley team, 3-2, last weekend.
“I don’t care who we’re playing. Whoever we play, I think that we can compete with,” FHS Head Coach Erin Hunt said. “I saw the Westwood-Wellesley game, and Westwood really stepped it up in the third period. They’re fast, and they move; they’re a lot like us, but I think that we match up well with this team.”
Hunt said that she has her team focused on playing, and beating, Westwood and only Westwood. It is hard for fans to avoid looking ahead to a potential match-up with Duxbury, again, at the Garden, but Hunt refuses to think about that, yet.
“My job is to keep them focused on the one game, this game, because there is no second game if we don’t win the one game.”
The one constant in both games against Westwood in the past year for Falmouth has been superb defensive play. The Clippers gave up the first goal each time, but have limited Westwood’s offensive chances greatly. In the title game last year, all-star goalie Maddie Scavotto faced just 14 shots. This year that number was 20, and just a single one reached her in the third period.
“Both teams look different now than they did before,” Hunt said. “We’ve both gotten better. For us, we want to use our forecheck and speed, get it out of the [defensive] zone quickly and get up the ice.”
FHS had issues with health for the second half of the season, but since getting the whole club back together for the postseason run, things have gone well. The six goals that they had in the previous game matched the team’s high mark for the season, which they have done on four other occasions. The Clippers’ offense has been led by first liners Alexa Scribner and Rachel Moore this season. Scribner has a team-high 21 goals, and also has 15 assists on the year. Moore, despite missing a couple of games late in the year, had 17 goals and 14 assists. Maddi Haberl, who missed several weeks with a wrist injury, and Kelly Ferreira, tied for third on the club with 11 goals apiece. However, the last game was not without issue. The Clippers spent a good portion of the night attempting to kill penalties, and Norwood made them pay for that. NHS converted 3-of-5 power play opportunities in the game. At tournament time, teams can’t afford to take bad penalties, and Coach Hunt certainly wants to see that aspect of the game cleaned up going forward.
“We’ve done well this year on the penalty kill, but there were a few breakdowns in that game and we made some adjustments. Most teams we’ve faced have had trouble setting up on the power play against us, but they were able to,” Hunt said. “We’re a physical team and we’re going to take some penalties, it’s a part of the game. It’s how you defend them, and defense wins championships.”