HINGHAM, Mass. -- The running theme when playing against the Duxbury girls hockey team this season has been pretty simple - sure, you may be able to hang with them for a period or two, but in the end, the chances are fairly strong that their depth, strength and overall ability will eventually wear you down.
Such was the case Thursday in the opening game of the second day of The 8 Showcase as the second-ranked Dragons did all their scoring in the third period to shoot past No. 4 Arlington Catholic, 3-0, in a clash of the two reigning girls hockey state champions at Pilgrim Arena.
Liz Collins and Marissa Fichter scored back-to-back goals in a 54-second span and Carly Campbell added an empty-netter in the final seconds to ice the win.
"Our second and third lines won this game," stated Duxbury coach Friend Weiler. "They were matched up against first and second in both games and they prevailed and worked hard."
AC (13-4-2) goalie Megan Messuri more than held her own against the Duxbury (17-1-2) onslaught, making 15 of her 22 saves during the first two frames to keep the Dragons off the scoreboard.
"Megan in general as a goaltender is consistent. She's always been consistent for us," praised Cougars coach Maggie Taverna. "Sometimes a goal will come in here and there on her but overall, she's a consistent kid. She loves the sport and she loves the game. She always plays well, always."
Duxbury goalie Rachel Myette stopped 16 shots for her seventh shutout and it took nearly 38 minutes for either side to break through. The Dragons finally did with something a flukey goal as Collins fired off a shot through a screen in front that Messuri never saw at 7:21 of the third.
Less than a minute later, a two-on-one breakaway developed with Jacqui Nolan making a perfect pass across to Fichter streaking down the middle, and the sophomore buried her opportunity. AC used a power play with under three minutes remaining to pull Messuri for an extra skater, then did it again in the final minute, but Myette was able to hold the Cougars off until Campbell finished it with her empty-net tally.
"The girls showed their heart tonight," praised Weiler. "To come out with all the energy and the hard work that they did during the third period, I'm really proud of them. Arlington Catholic is a phenomenal team. They took the middle away for most of the game and we were finally able to work from the outside back in and get some better opportunities. Thankfully we were able to convert because the girls were moving and cycling it around."
Fichter and Myette were named to The 8 Showcase All-Star team, while Messuri and Jackie Sindoris were the selections from Arlington Catholic.
ST. MARY'S 2, LEXINGTON 2
The Minutemaids got off to a strong start with a pair of first period goals, but the injury-plagued Spartans rallied behind star forward Alison Butler, who scored twice to force her team's second tie of the showcase.
Lexington (12-5-3) shot right out of the gate as Jackie Denning converted a nice feed from Sara Lehman for a power play goal just 2:43 into the game. Shortly after killing off a penalty of their own, Lehman found herself on the receiving end of a pass from linemate Carolyn Avery and finished strong as the Minutemaids opened up a 2-0 lead.
"On Sara's goal, we've been working hard with her on reading the defenseman in front of her and trying to make a defenseman move and step out to the side instead of going through and she did that," explained Lexington coach Mandy Ciarletta. "Her focus and determintaion resulted in a goal for her. It was good that she saw the net. It was nice that Jackie was able to get a goal as well."
Junior goalie Amanda Charlton was tough beat for the second straight night, stopping 14 St. Mary's shots in the first and finishing with 31 saves. the Spartans finally broke through with 5:40 left in the opening frame as Gabby Crugnale fired a shot that Charlton initially gloved, but the puck popped out and Butler was in prime position to bang home the rebound.
In the second, Butler got loose for a breakaway but was stoned by Charlton. The heady senior followed the rebound, however, and got off a shot from the low, left-wing circle that somehow found its through in between Charlton's left shoulder and the near post to tie the game at 1:48.
Despite playing without All-State forward Kaleigh Finigan, who suffered a shoulder injury in Tuesday's scoreless draw against Duxbury, the Spartans still managed to put together 33 shots and numerous scoring chances. Defenseman Tatiana Doucette rifled a shot that rattled around under the crossbar and should have been ruled a goal but the referee was out of position to see the play. Then, with 1:10 left in the game, Butler got loose once again for a breakway and made a late deke but Charlton managed to shoot her left leg out in the nick of time to deflect the puck with her pad to preserve the tie.
"We have to mentally focus a little bit more before we get on the ice and I think it showed tonight," admitted Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca. "We came out slow and good teams like Lexington are going to take advantage of that and they popped a couple in. I'm a little disappointed how we played overall but we'll take the point and move on. We have to be ready to go right from the drop of the puck. We can't wait and decide to turn it on and turn it off. Teams are too good for us to do that and that's what we'll take from tonight - mentally show up ready to play."
Lehman and Avery were Lexington's selections to The 8 Showcase All-Star Team, while Butler and Crugnale earned the honors from St. Mary's.