BOSTON -- They come from a town that’s often referred to as Deluxe-bury and the tag fits the Duxbury girls’ hockey team perfectly.
For the second straight year the Dragons vacated their locker room at the TD Garden in Boston with the MIAA Division 2 championship trophy in tow. The hardware, which makes a matching set in the Duxbury trophy case, came after the Dragons completed an undefeated season with a hard-earned 3-1 win over upstart Falmouth.
Duxbury got a pair of goals from senior captain Hannah Murphy and survived some scary moments late in the game to complete a year without a defeat as the top-ranked team in the state finished up at 22-0-1. Falmouth, a team that certainly could be back to challenge the Dragons again next year, wraps their year at 16-6-1.
The win was the third of the year for the Dragons over the Clippers, who also won 4-0 and 3-2 regular season games over their Southeastern Massachusetts Girls Hockey League rivals.
Dragons head coach Friend Weiler had a look of relief and joy as he entered the press room at the Garden to break things down. Weiler said he was proud of the way his team handled itself in the capper to their undefeated season.
“The goal from the start of the season was to get back here and I just told them [in the locker room celebration] that they passed their final exam,” the coach said. “I’m just so proud of those girls, every one of them comes to the rink every day single day ready to go.”
Goalie Rachel Myette, who made 14 saves in the net, including a couple of huge ones in the third period, said her team’s second championship in a row was quite fulfilling.
“It feels great. We worked really hard to get here,” she said. “It wasn’t easy, but it’s great.”
Clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the game, the Dragons had to finish off their title run by raising the degree of difficulty. Marissa Fichter was sent to the penalty box with 1:18 left to play in the game for a body check, giving Falmouth a chance to get their goalie out and skate the game out on a power play.
Duxbury won the draw in their own end and got the puck out of the zone to kill off most of the remaining time. The Clippers, who feature 10 freshmen and a sophomore on their up-and-coming young roster, were able to get it down low for one last go at Duxbury keeper Rachel Myette (14 saves). Maddie Haberl kicked the puck down low where it was sent up to the point by the defense. Hannah Ghelfi collected it for the Clippers and threw it to the other point for senior captain Brenna Callahan.
The Falmouth captain let a shot rip from the left point, but Murphy was there to block it for Duxbury. The puck caromed hard off of Murphy’s shins and went into the neutral zone where she won a footrace and deposited into the vacant Clippers goal to sew things up for the champions.
“I think we battled them to the end and we made them work for that championship,” Falmouth head coach Erin Blood after the game.
Murphy, the Dragons’ leading goal-scorer for the season, had scored the first of the game for Duxbury just 3:25 into the contest. The forward pilfered the puck out of the left wing corner, circled past the Falmouth defense and beat Maddie Scavotto through the 5-hole to put Duxbury on top, 1-0. The goal was Murphy’s 21st of the season.
Duxbury took it to the Clippers throughout the first period, but despite owning an 11-2 edge in shots on goal, they could not get the Clippers to go away. Scavotto (29 saves) was a big reason for Falmouth’s ability to hang in the game as the freshman goalie came up with save after save, including a robbery of a Murphy bid with 1:19 left in the first.
Falmouth came out of the locker room with renewed vigor in the second period and started to take it to the Dragons. Freshman Rachel Moore, who played inspired hockey throughout the contest for the Clippers, knotted things up at 1-1 at 3:25 of the second period.
Falmouth sophomore forward Alexa Scribner stole the puck with a forecheck on the right wing boards and broke up that side. While getting cross-checked from behind, Scribner lost her handle on the puck, but it ricocheted off her skate and found Moore’s stick in the low slot where the rookie snapped it by Myette (14 saves) to tie the count up.
Duxbury did not panic, though. The Dragons reasserted their dominance and turned the tables for the rest of the second period. Midway through the frame they got the go-ahead goal on a pretty play by Martha Findley along the left wing boards who found a wide-open Liz Collins on the far post for a backdoor goal to regain the lead.
“The coach had been telling us all game long, and all season long, that the backdoor was going to be open for us,” Collins said. “I was wide open on the far post and my friend Martha popped it over to me and I one-timed it.”
Collins said that the go-ahead goal allowed the Dragons to breathe a tad bit easier.
“It was nice to get that one and get some breathing room. It was kind of a cushioning, knowing that even if they scored it would only tie it up,” she said. “I felt no stress on the ice after that, I just figured we were going to win after that.”
Findley said that the champs remained calm through the adversity after Falmouth tied it, and that staying cool paid dividends. “We knew we could get after it, that we needed to generate more shots. I think we knew that we had it, but it was scary being tied,” she said.
With the lead in hand going to the third period the Dragons were confident, but they knew nothing was guaranteed. The Clippers got a nice bid by Kelly Ferreira early in the third and then a break-in on a shorthanded bid by Moore with 4:14 to play, but each time Myette kept the puck out of the net to preserve the lead for the Dragons.
“The last two games with Falmouth…they’ve been the toughest games all year,” Collins said. “They’re one of those teams where if you close your eyes for one second they’re going to come up behind you and score. Every team they’ve played in the playoffs has underestimated them and they came through and won.”
The Clippers said that their slow start was problematic, but Blood was happy to see her team weather the storm early and escape the first down just 1-0. Falmouth did its best to keep up with the high-flying Dragons the rest of the way, and had their chances to pull of the major upset.
Callahan, who was a four-year starter for Clippers, said she was sad to see her career end but that she was pleased with her team’s accomplishment. “I’m so proud of all of these girls,” she said fighting back tears.
Assistant captain Alexx Good picked up the conversation from there.
“We’re so lucky to have an amazing group of seniors, Brenna especially, she had an outstanding season…we’re going to take what we learned from them and hopefully we’ll be back next year.
Coach Blood echoed her players’ sentiments. “We made it to the Garden, we’re pumped about it, and I think we’ll be back.”