By Tris Wykes

WEST LEBANON – An upset was in the making Friday afternoon at Campion Rink. The Hanover High girls hockey team, undefeated in seven prior games, trailed by a goal entering the third period against visiting Berlin-Gorham. 

“We didn’t panic,” said Marauders captain Sage McGinley-Smith. “We knew if we kept working hard and putting pucks on net, we were going to get them to go in. We were excited because we’re a third period team and we played our best 15 minutes during the last 15 minutes.”

Hanover High’s Maeve Lee, right, celebrates her goal with Sage McGinley-Smith (16) and Gail Morse. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Did they ever. Hanover tied the NHIAA contest on a Natalie Morhun goal, surged ahead on a McGinley-Smith penalty shot and salted it away with a Maeve Lee tally. The Marauders host Bishop Brady on Saturday in a contest in which they’l be heavily favored, then clash with undefeated Bishop Guertin in southern New Hampshire on Wednesday for their penultimate regular-season game.

“We talked a lot about having momentum to start the third period, because we felt like we had lost it after they got their goal,” McGinley-Smith said.

Berlin (2-7-1) opened the scoring five minutes into the second period but didn’t help its chances by taking two penalties before the second intermission. Morhun tied the game with 7 minutes and 11 seconds remaining in the final stanza when she drove diagonally across the Mountaineers’ zone, swung outside a defender in the right circle and scored at the far post.

A minute later, McGinley-Smith broke down the opposite side of the slot and a Berlin defender threw her stick at No. 16 from behind. That calls for an automatic penalty shot and McGinley-Smith faked a shot to the left, dropping the netminder to the ice before using a backhand shot to slide the puck inside the right post.

Hanover High’s Sage McGinley-Smith scores on a penalty shot to provide the winning goal. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“That’s a move I can’t use in practice anymore because our goalies both know it,” McGinley-Smith said with a laugh. “I’ve always wanted to take a penalty shot in a game, but I didn’t know at first, because I thought the stick had just come out of her hand.

“I think I was more excited than nervous for the chance to put my team ahead. I felt we deserved it.”

Lee, a freshman with seemingly effortless skating power, closed the scoring when she cashed in off passes from Danielle Rudd and McGinley-Smith. Hanover has three games remaining in the regular season and closes it by hosting Exeter on Feb. 27. Then it’s on to a randomly-seeded playoff tournament in this strange winter.

“It’s a weird season but a month ago, this game wouldn’t have been allowed to happen, so we’re just happy to be playing,” said McGinley-Smith, who’s headed to Stanford University in the fall. “It’s nice to have the wins we’ve been getting, but honestly, I’m just happy I get to skate for my senior year.”

Notes: Berlin players hung what appeared to be blankets and bed sheets over the windows of their school bus to create pregame privacy in the parking lot while they changed into their uniforms… Jeff Graham, president of the Hanover Improvement Society, which manages Campion Rink, attended the game. He said his organization deferred to Lebanon High and Hanover High on whether to allow home fans at games and that the schools decided not to do so. Hanover has also banned spectators at home basketball contests, but Lebanon has begun allowing two per Raiders player at games in that sport… Also in attendance was Zion, the family dog of Marauders players Lily and Lorelai Selig. The large German Shepherd was deeply puzzled by the placement of cut tennis balls on the feet of the rink’s lobby benches and attempted to pull one of them off with his teeth.

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Hanover High’s Maeve Lee (4) pursues an airborne puck. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.