By Tris Wykes
WEST LEBANON – Lena Nowell’s hockey socks are frayed and dotted with holes, exposing the Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge defenseman’s shinguards. The senior found an opening of a different sort Wednesday, however, firing in the deciding goal during a 3-2 overtime defeat of Berlin-Gorham at Campion Rink.
Previously a stay-at-home kind of rearguard, Nowell rushed the puck through center ice and into the offensive zone half a dozen times against the Mountaineers. Lebanon’s attack needed the boost and No. 12 is well-conditioned on a team that often uses only 10 skaters and a goaltender.
“It just hit something and popped over (Berlin-Gorham goaltender Luma Berry),” said Nowell, who hustled up the left wing before firing from the top of the circle with 2 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the 8-minute overtime. “I believe it was a defenseman’s stick or skate or something. It’s not as pretty as I’d like it to be, but I’ll take what I can get.”
Accustomed to pressure as her school’s starting lacrosse goaltender, Nowell said the Raiders had to battle nerves as time ticked down. LSK was playing in overtime for the third time this season, having lost to Oyster River and beaten Bishop Brad-Trinity-West in its prior contests with an added stanza.
“Everybody gets stressed,” Nowell said. “It’s the last home game of the (regular) season and everybody’s feeling it. But on the bench we talked about everybody staying calm and getting the basics down and that’s what’s going to win us the game.”
Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge’s Lily Barber opened the scoring in the seventh minute and on the power play. Her shot from the right side went through Berry’s pads and came after passes from Makayla Maccioli and Nowell. Berlin (2-7-1) answered three minutes later when Aya Bartoli made one of her frequent, long rushes and scored on a backhand shot over goaltender Paige Hoegler.
The Mountaineers took a 2-1 lead four minutes into the second period off a goalmouth scramble but Greta Barber jumped onto a loose puck in the Berlin-Gorham slot and beat the diminutive Berry with a wrist shot. Lily Barber and Nowell were awarded assists and Lily Barber had the lone assist on the winning goal.
“The thing you like about Lena is she especially wants the puck on her stick,” said second-year LSK coach Mike Sheehan. “We’ve got a lot of new players and we don’t have a lot of natural goal-scorers… but they’re hard workers.”
Hoegler made 16 saves for the Raiders (4-6), who conclude their regular season Saturday at Keene.
“She’s one of the best goalies in the state and I think she’s turned a lot of heads this year,” Sheehan said of the junior. “She was there when we needed her today. We’re a young and inexperienced team and she’s there to bail us out.”
Notes: Berry’s mask features an image of an angry Gingerbread Man on the side… Kate Barber, mother of the two Raiders sisters, said her son, T.J., is a graduate student and the interim men’s golf coach at Regent (Colo.) University, an NCAA Division II school in Denver. His younger sister, Julie, is studying zoology at Oregon State, although she’s never had an in-person class as a Beaver. Julie Barber, who suffered waist-down paralysis because of a cancerous tumor against her spinal cord in 2016, now walks with the aid of crutches or a cane, her mother said… Lilly Gogan, an LSK forward who has undergone four knee surgeries since injuring the joint in a skiing accident roughly a year ago, has recovered to the point where she skated in pregame warmups Wednesday… Sheehan said junior defenseman Maya Barnett has left the team to concentrate of nordic skiing… Homemade posters honoring seniors Nowell, Maccioli and Lily Barber were displayed by the rink entrance. The latter’s spread included a photo of her as a baby, on all fours and in front of a tiny hockey goal.
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