By Tris Wykes

Copyright Octopus Athletics 2022

WEST LEBANON – It was cold enough outside Campion Rink on Friday night that Zamoni operator Ryan Damren closed the vehicle bay’s overhead door in an attempt to keep the building’s warmer air inside.

On the ice, Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge goaltender Paige Hoegler did her best to slam the gate on Hanover’s offense, stopping 50 shots during a 5-0 loss. The Kearsarge High senior and her team were under siege most of the evening, managing 11 shots themselves and creating only one prime scoring chance, which came on Lily Hoegler’s last-minute breakaway.

Hanover High’s Rory Seelig (12) gives Lebanon’s Lilly Gogan (4) a shove as Emma Leute (6) moves in. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“Sometimes when I’m getting so many shots, it’s hard to breath,” said Hoegler, whose team trailed, 1-0, after a period and 4-0 after 30 minutes. “I was getting a little anxious and my adrenaline kicked in, which made it hard to focus at the start. But I used some breathing techniques I taught myself to gain control and focus.”

The senior began her high school career as a skater and LSK’s backup goaltender. When the Raiders’ starter suffered a preseason injury, however, Hoegler was pressed into duty between the pipes as a freshman and has played there almost every game since.

“I was hoping to play out my entire high school career but I had to take over,” she said. “I miss playing out, but I really like playing goalie.”

Lebanon’s Paige Hoegler stopped more than a shot a minute. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Friday’s outcome was all but preordained when considering the teams’ depth. LSK, designated the home team in a rink the programs share, used five forwards and three defensemen. The Marauders (5-1-1) deployed rolled three, full forward lines and two defensive pairings.

“That was part of the difference,” said 17th-year Hanover coach John Dodds. “They’re relying on only one line, really.”

Hanover opened the scoring after two minutes when Kaye Lindsay rushed into the left circle and whipped the puck in off the crossbar. The senior center, who’s always been a smooth skater, began her Marauder days with shooting an obvious flaw, but has worked diligently on improvement.

Lebanon’s Phoebe Ballard (17) and Hanover’s Maeve Lee clash in center ice. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Lebanon (3-1) managed only four shots during the first period, all on long shots, and surrendered three goals during the second stanza. Lindsay backhanded a shot under the crossbar during the third minute, followed fewer than four minutes later by a Mackenzie Liu tally. 

Kali McDonnell struck with a low shot from the left point on a power play for a 4-0 lead, then bagged her second score of the game on a similar shot midway through the third period. The senior defenseman also had two assists, as did fellow rearguard and classmate Gail Morse. 

Despite posting only a single assist, sophomore forward Rory Seelig was an offensive force throughout the game, skating with Kaye Lindsay and Lindsay’s younger sister, Faith. 

Lebanon’s Paige Hoegler makes one of her 50 saves. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

A player kept off the score sheet entirely, Maeve Lee, was another constant threat and shows significant improvement from last season. Primarily a speed merchant in her younger days, the sophomore forward now skates with the puck to create dangerous chances and shows a tendency to drive directly to the blue paint that was previously missing.

“The last couple of games we’ve had an awful lot of shots that missed the net, so that was one of our focuses tonight,” Dodds said. “In the first period, we didn’t have a shot that missed the net, although some were blocked. 

“I told the players it’s useless to shoot a puck high over the net. We’d probably done that about 15 times in the last two games.”

Hanover’s Julie Late skates away from Lebanon’s Lilly Gogan. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

For Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge, the gap with Hanover has clearly widened since it lost to its rival, 3-1, during a clash in February, 2020. That was the closest contest between the schools in years and the Marauders held only a 26-9 shot advantage. 

The sense Friday was that Hanover has improved and is again a serious contender for a state title. The Raiders lack the numbers and talent they enjoyed before the pandemic’s arrival.

“I think we got caught in the second period with some long shifts or times when we couldn’t get the puck out, and that’s when they burned us,” said third-year LSK coach Mike Sheehan, whose team was 5-6 last season. “We got a little worn down in that period. 

Lebanon goaltender Paige Hoegler and defenseman Elena Robb (18) confront Hanover’s Rachel Rockmore. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“Our defenders have to stay inside so (opponents) don’t get a clear shot from in close and have a chance to roof it on us.”

LSK and Hanover had each barely played during recent weeks because of postponements related to illness and weather. They now face packed schedules. The Raiders are slated to compete 12 times in the next month while Hanover has eight games scheduled during an 18-day stretch beginning Sunday at Beekmantown (N.Y.) Central High.

Lebanon’s Olivia Pollard skates ahead of Hanover’s Maeve Lee (4) and Nora Bradley. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Notes: With senior co-captain and defenseman Danielle Rudd out because of Covid rules, the Marauders moved wing Greta Shutz back to fill Rudd’s slot and inserted Faith Lindsay in Shutz’s normal spot on the second line… Six of Hanover’s first seven games had to be rescheduled because of illness or weather… Scuttlebutt around the rink was that Lebanon has at least two, and perhaps three, current eighth-grade goaltenders from Stevens and Kearsarge on the way for next season. Sheehan said he thought that was the case but was in no mood to discuss such prospects. “I’m worried about trying to get through this year,” he said… The Lindsay sisters live practically on the Hanover-Lebanon town line and, because of their family circumstances, could have attended either school. Their older siblings, Grace and Ella, skated for the Raiders during previous seasons, while their older brother, Kordell, played for the Hanover boys team… Lebanon, which has four players new to the sport who practice and play only during lopsided contests, is hoping to have freshman Mackenzie Ray available in the coming days. The rookie was hurt during field hockey season, when she was a varsity player… Hanover was 12-2 and lost in last season’s state semifinals… Lebanon sophomore defenseman Olivia Pollard, the daughter of former Raiders standout and golf coach Chris Pollard, skated in the Hanover Wild youth organization with many of the Marauders.

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Lebanon’s Greta Barber (3) and Hanover’s Faith Lindsay battle in front of the Raiders’ net. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.