WOBURN — Based on its first two meetings with Arlington, the Woburn High girls’ hockey team figured it would have to generate a lot of shots to score on Spy Ponder goalie Jordan Toomey, thus making a victory a difficult challenge.
The Tanners lost both of those regular-season games but last night the Tanners surprised the Spy Ponders, 3-0, in MIAA Div. 1 girls preliminary round action, at Ed Burns Arena.
Woburn, the 21st seed, scored the only goal of the first period, and then put Arlington in trouble by scoring twice in 1:23, less than six minutes into the second period.
The Spy Ponders tested Tanner goalie Amanda Essigmann several times over the final 25 minutes of action, but the junior was able to stop 26 shots to post the shutout.
“I think the kids were excited to play tonight,” said Woburn coach Bob MacCurtain. “The regular season is the regular season. It’s fun to win the Middlesex League and all that, but really, this is when it matters. I thought the kids played a great game tonight.”
Arlington actually got off to a good start in terms of controlling the puck and putting pressure on the Woburn net. Essigmann made the saves and did not give up many rebounds, and the defense got the puck out of the zone.
The Spy Ponders ended up having the first seven shots on net, including two open shots in the slot by Emily Benoit and Gabby Russo, which Essigmann turned aside.
The Tanners finally put a shot on net late in the period, and then another before scoring on their third attempt. Angie Moore got to the puck along the right boards in the Arlington end and sent the puck towards the net. Woburn left wing
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M.L. Pineros was left open in front of the net and she took a whack at the puck when it reached her, and it found the back of the net at 13:50.
“We were really back on our heels for the first 13 minutes of the first period, I give credit to Arlington for coming right at us,” said MacCurtain. “It wasn’t like we weren’t trying, they were just coming at us. Amanda made some big saves and then that goal late was huge. I think it rattled them a little bit.”
The Tanners came out playing with confidence in the second period, and it wasn’t long before they were on the attack again.
Woburn was putting good pressure on the Spy Ponder defense when it scored again to take a 2-0 lead at 4:03. Jackie Bees got the puck to Mackenzie Russo behind the net. She came out past the right post before finding Lily Anderson in the slot. Anderson got off a quick shot that beat Toomey for a 2-0 Tanner lead.
A little over a minute later, Woburn scored on a breakaway to take a 3-0 lead. Erin McComiskey sent a lead pass up the right side from the Tanner end. Russo skated onto it and sped ahead of the nearest Arlington defender on a breakaway. Russo converted the opportunity with a well-placed wrist shot and suddenly the Tanners had a huge, 3-0 lead.
“Scoring that first one really changed things,” said MacCurtain. “In the second period we were like a different team.”
Woburn had its first power play about a minute later, but was unable to deliver the knockout punch. The Tanners had only nine shots on goal over the first two periods, but they were able to convert on three of them.
Arlington had its chances during a power play, later in the second, but again came up empty.
The Spy Ponders tested Essigmann, several times in the third period, none better than a rush by Elizabeth Liakos, in which she worked through the defense and let go with a wrist shot from the right circle that Essigmann snared with her glove.
Essigman also made at least a couple great saves on deflected shots from in front of the net.
“I really didn’t anticipate a 3-0 win against Arlington, but we’ll take it, for sure,” said MacCurtain. “We have a young group so it’s good to get one under our belts here.”
A game with fifth-seeded Franklin is up next for the Tanners in the first-round. Day and time to be determined.