WATERTOWN — The two-time MIAA Div. 1 state champion Woburn High girls’ hockey team has been dethroned, but coach Bob MacCurtain can live with that considering how far the Tanners came along this year after losing almost all of their offense to graduation.
Franklin had the two best offensive weapons on the ice, last night at Ryan Arena, and Regan Paterson (2-1) and Cassi Ronan (1-1) did their damage in the second period as the fifth-seeded Panthers shut out the 21st-seeded Tanners, 3-0, in first round action.
Woburn gave it all it had through the first two periods, but when Paterson scored her second goal, with 40 seconds left in the period, it was a dagger through the heart of the Tanners.
The third period Woburn looked a little spent and the Panthers were willing to play conservatively and ride out the 3-0 win.
“The third goal was a tough one because we had a couple chances on the power play before that,” said MacCurtain. “But hey, we were 3-4-1 around the middle of the year. To come out and finish the way we did, I’m very proud of them. We have a young team, and listening to our starting lineup today; sophomore, sophomore, sophomore … I liked hearing that.”
Ronan, who has family ties to Woburn High boys’ hockey, first made her presence felt a little over midway into the first when she made an impressive rush down the left side. She sped into the Tanner end, put a shift on the defender and walked in alone, only to be denied on a great save by goalie Amanda Essigmann.
Woburn went on the power play near the 10-minute mark and it was a highly-productive one in terms of shots on goal, but most did not challenge goalie Gabby Colace, a sophomore.
Ronan was heard from one more time in the final minute of the first period. Working out of the left corner, the senior put the puck right on Paterson’s stick in the slot, and Essigmann flashed her left pad to make another big save and keep it a scoreless game heading into the first intermission.
The Tanners tried to come out the same way in the second period, working hard and matching strides with the Panthers, but Ronan broke the shutout just 2:47 in. She took a pass from the right side by Paterson, in the slot, and beat Essigmann with a hard, accurate shot inside the left post for the 1-0 Franklin lead.
Less than two minutes later, the Panthers and their top line struck again. This time Paterson put away a rebound of a Ronan shot to make it 2-0. Amanda Lewandowski assisted on all three goals.
“I think we had a little bit better of the play in the first period, but then they came at us in the second,” said MacCurtain. “It’s hard to play catchup when you don’t score tons of goals, which we didn’t do this year. But they (Tanners) kept battling and working hard.”
Woburn knew it was time to go for broke and the Tanners came so close to getting that first goal and possibly changing the complexion of the game.
The closest call came when Mackenzie Russo won the puck on the left side and fired the puck towards the front of the net. Jackie Lees was coming hard through the slot and came so close to tucking the rebound inside the right post. She could not quite get the handle fast enough to get the puck to go where she wanted it to go.
The backbreaker came in the final minute of the second when Paterson won the puck at center ice from a Woburn defender. She went in on a 2-on-1 break down the right side, and opted for the shot, which she put in off the inside of the left post for the 3-0 lead after two periods.
Woburn had three full power plays in the third but didn’t have the energy left to fully take advantage of them.
“We have three great seniors, Angie Moore was a terrific captain,” said MacCurtain. “It’s tough to lose but we haven’t had to talk like this (after a tournament loss) in a few years so we can’t complain.”
Woburn should have back the rest of its team next year, and the Tanners will be out to reclaim the Middlesex League Liberty title.