By Tris Wykes

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – The Hartford High girls hockey team is building for the future with a roster that includes four eighth-graders and seven sophomores. Wednesday, however, the present was pretty bright itself. 

The Hurricanes defeated Rutland, 4-3, at Barwood Arena, hanging on through a final three minutes when the puck was almost exclusively in the home end. Zoe Pfeiffer made 18 saves and six Hurricanes got onto the scoresheet offensively. 

Hartford High’s Morgan Curtis avoids the reach of Rutland’s Alyssa Kennedy. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“It was really intense,” said sophomore Nedra Dwinell, who scored what proved to be the winning goal. “We kept it together, even when it wasn’t quite together. We just play so much more as a team this season, with more passing and talking.”

Hartford went up, 4-2, with 10 minutes to play but surrendered a goal two minutes later. The mood on the bench didn’t dip, however.

“We got more excited,” Dwinell said. “We had to bring up our intensity.”

First-year Hurricanes coach Kylie Young sent out a cobbled-together line of Dwinell with Madelyn Durkee and Madison Barwood to close out the game. Those happen to be three of her smallest players. 

“They’re our three hardest-working forwards and I knew they’d get gritty,” said Young, whose team is 3-3 after going 1-20 last winter during its third and final season under previous coach Bill Goldsworthy. “I knew they’d bring some fire and win the puck and get it out.”

Hartford High defenseman Grace Bazin, right, and Rutland’s Sydney Wood meet with the puck between them. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Young had primarily been using two forward lines, but noticed fatigue was an issue for them as games progressed. By Wednesday, she felt comfortable deploying a third unit as well, centered by her daughter, newcomer and eighth-grader Morgan Curtis, with wings Dwinell and junior Brianna Roberts.

“Our second and third lines are bringing it and the fact we can run three full lines means every player can go out strong every shift,” Young said. “Three eighth-graders had regular shifts, which says a lot for how we’re developing.”

Morgan Curtis’ father, Jeff, lives in Lebanon and she had grown up attending school there before transferring to her mother’s hometown of Hartford last month. Initially played at defense, the youngster proved a better fit as a pivot and has dressed for the last four games, playing in three of them and taking a regular shift for the first time Wednesday.

“She had to earn her spot,” said Young, who coached her daughter for eight years in youth hockey, but was wary of doing so at the high school level. “There’s nothing saying that Morgan won’t be the (odd player out) again someday.

“She’s slipped up a couple of times and called me ‘Mom’ and immediately caught herself, but we know it’s business here at the rink.”

The Hurricanes led, 2-1, after a period on goals by Cordelia Durand and Roberts. Grace Bazin earned an assist on the first tally, a soft shot from the right circle that slid slowly through the legs of goaltender Lindsey Taylor. The sophomore played just her second game as a backstop and wore skates designed for defensemen or forwards.

Hartford High’s Sophie Trembley leads Rutland’s Sydney Wood through center ice. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Rutland (1-3) pulled into a 2-2 tie with 6 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the second period but Hurricanes sophomore Durkee, a Thetford Academy student, scored her first high school goal 15 seconds later off a Rylee Potwin assist. Dwinell put the hosts up, 4-2, when she fired a shot over Taylor’s shoulder, but the Raiders inched within a goal two minutes later. 

Hartford, which won four games total during its previous three seasons, goes for victory number four of the current campaign when it hosts Rice (3-3) on Saturday.

Notes: Hartford’s jerseys are long and some of its players are short enough that the hem of their tops hangs to the bottom of their hockey shorts…  Former Hurricanes football, hockey and baseball player Nick Cameron, a 2019 Hartford graduate, works on the Barwood ice crew… According to her Linkedin.com page, Rutland co-coach Katherine Pate, an insurance account manager, previously worked as a funeral attendant. She was a four-year ice hockey player at the University of Vermont with her senior season coming in 2017-18… Rutland co-coach Emily Reynolds is a former University of Connecticut player. She and Pate were previously Raiders assistants… Pate said the Raiders had another goaltender on the roster but that she is absent because of health issues… Rutland won the 2017 Vermont Division I title and is one of four teams in that classification this winter. Hartford is one of four Division III programs and there are 12 Division II schools in the sport… Rutland was 7-14 last season.

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Hartford High goaltender Zoe Pfeiffer absorbs a shot to the midsection. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.