Hurricanes too slow to go


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-01-2023 8:26 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The main culprit in Hartford High’s 5-2 loss to Middlebury on Tuesday in the opening round of the VPA Division II girls hockey playoffs wasn’t difficult to discern, said head coach Kylie Young.

“Every game we feel we’re supposed to win, we come out flat,” said Young, whose fourth-seeded team had beaten the fifth-seeded Tigers, 8-4, during the regular season. “We showed that again today. We showed a lot of heart and passion at the end, but it was too little, too late.”

Hartford (12-9-0) reached the division title game a year ago, falling to archrival Woodstock, and it seemed reasonable that the Hurricanes and Wasps would clash at that stage again this winter. Woodstock is 16-4-0, top-seeded in the playoffs, and hosts ninth-seeded Stowe on Wednesday.

Hartford’s fate was all but sealed when it surrendered Tuesday’s first three goals on three consecutive shots during a 2-minute, 1-second span of the first period.

Freshman goaltender Nella Bowen, who beat out senior Sydney Stillman to become the Hurricanes’ starter this season, drops onto her pads during most scoring opportunities, a habit of which the Tigers (12-9-0) were clearly aware.

The visitors went up, 4-0, by scoring two minutes before the first intermission. Hartford’s comeback hopes were hampered by sophomore forward Madison Barwood committing three of her four penalties during a 15-minute period that overlapped the first and second stanzas.

“I had the confidence we could come back, but it just wasn’t there,” Young said.

Middlebury moved ahead, 5-0, with the second period’s lone goal, cashing in on a turnover in front of Bowen 11 seconds before the second intermission. Nedra Dwinell and Barwood scored third-period goals for the hosts, who received nine saves from Bowen, none of them during the final 15 minutes.

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Hartford played without its best forward, senior Sophie Tremblay, who Young said missed Monday’s practice and Tuesday’s game because of illness. Middlebury freshman Erin Sears, who scored four of the Tigers’ goals, had played defense during the teams’ Feb. 8 meeting but skated at wing for the rematch.

“She hung out at the top of their zone and didn’t really help out defensively,” Young said. “She can control the play, but we got in her head a little bit last game and she became easily frustrated. That’s what we were hoping for tonight, but she pulled through with a more positive attitude and was the leader of their team.”

Hartford will graduate Tremblay and fellow forwards Dwinell, Madelyn Durkee and Ada Acker as well as defender Julie McDermid and goaltender Stillman. Young said she doesn’t anticipate much in the way of younger replacements for next season and is bracing for the Hurricanes featuring just 10 skaters and Bowen.

Tris Wykes can be reached at