FALMOUTH, Mass. – Last March when the Wellesley and Falmouth High School girls' ice hockey teams met on the ice there was a trip to the TD Garden on the line. The stakes weren't nearly as high yesterday in the final game of the annual Cape Cod Classic showcase, but the end result was the same.
Wellesley staked itself to a 3-0 lead in the second period and then held back a charge by the Clippers to score a 4-3 victory in the final regular season game for both clubs.
Wellesley finishes the season at 16-2-3, while Falmouth falls to 15-4-2. Both teams are among the favorites to playing for the Division 2 title in mid-March. Wellesley lost in the title game last year, the Clippers were beaten in the finals the two years before that.
Wellesley seemed to have more hop in their collective step throughout the game. The Clippers outshot the Raiders by a 27-17 margin in the contest, but it was Wellesley that was able to put away more of their chances.
The biggest goal of the game for the Raiders was the last one. Midway through the third period the Clippers had begun to seize control, as a goal by junior defenseman Hannah Callahan at 7:06 made it a 3-2 game. Callahan stepped into a loose puck from the high slot and beat Emily King to the top shelf. Rallying from 3-0 down, it looked like Falmouth had all of the momentum, but Wellesley quickly snuffed it out.
Just 28 seconds after Callahan scored, the Raiders struck for a back-breaker. A missed clear-out by the Clippers was taken away by the Raiders' forecheckers, and Keely Corscadden snapped a pass to Cecily Docktor, who was camped on the far post. Docktor tucked it inside the pipe, behind Maddie Scavotto (13 saves) for a 4-2 lead for the visitors.
Wellesley certainly seemed to have more puck luck in the contest, but head coach George Campbell said his Raiders produced its own good fortune.
“I don't think it's accidental. These kids have been playing together so long, they have great anticipation. They know if a shot is taken, they know where that rebound is going to be,” Campbell said. “We have a lot of experience, they grew up playing youth hockey together. They know each other very well and they kind of know how it's going to play out, what's going to happen.”
Falmouth rallied back to score an empty-netter with 16 seconds left as freshman Mckenzie Haberl picked up her second of the night, chopping one through a scrum in front of the net. The goal-scorer's older sister, Maddi Haberl, assisted on that goal, as well as the other two by FHS. Her assist on Callahan's earlier goal put her at the 100-point milestone for her career. She's the second Clipper to reach that mark in the past few weeks, with teammate Kelly Ferreira having also accomplished that feat.
Personal goals weren't on the Clippers' minds, though. They were focused on the loss, which was their first in three weeks.
“Wellesley had to play yesterday, too, and get on the bus this morning at like 7 a.m.," Maddi Haberl said. " There's no excuses."
Coach Erin Hunt echoed her star forward's sentiments saying, “[There are] no excuses. They worked harder than we did and they won the game. We couldn't get it going tonight, they shut us down.”
Wellesley played with a lead almost the whole game. They scored the game's first goal with just 14.2 seconds left in the first, with a bit of a flukey goal. With the puck loose up against the Falmouth net, Corscadden chopped her stick down on the puck and bounced it off the ice. The puck rode up over Scavotto, along the goal line, hit the back pipe and then came out. The referees ruled that the puck had crossed the goal line during its journey from one side of the crease to the other.
Kaleigh Donnelly scored twice in the second period to give Wellesley a 3-0 lead, both times with well-placed wristers from about 20 feet. The first one came at 2:29 as she camped just above the hash marks and snapped one just past the outstretched glove of Scavotto.
About 10 minutes later she struck again. Moments after a Wellesley power play had expired, Donnelly let one fly through traffic near the left wing faceoff dot. Scavotto never saw the puck that beat her up top, and gave the Raiders a commanding lead.
Falmouth began its comeback with 1:13 to play. McKenzie Haberl capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play chance with a wrist shot from just above the hash marks that King was unable to glove. Brooke Bowman and Maddi Haberl assisted.
The Clippers charged back from there to close the gap to one goal, twice, but Wellesley prevailed in the end. King was a big reason for that. Last year she stood on her head in the state semis, making 37 saves in her team's 3-2 win against the Clippers. She wasn't quite as sharp this time around, but finished with 24 saves and stopped a number of good FHS bids, especially late in the second and early in the third.
“She's good,” Campbell said. “Last year she had a really good game in the playoffs against Falmouth...she just stays within herself. She never panics and never loses her focus."
One More Time?: A real rivalry has developed between the teams over the past few years. Falmouth knocked off the Raiders to reach the finals two years ago, and the Raiders returned the favor last year. They've also met at the Classic each of the last two seasons, with a tie last season, and Wellesley winning this time around.
A potential rematch down the road is certainly something that both sides know is a real possibility. If it happens, though, the stakes will be much higher. Not only will one team's season end, but the careers of several talented seniors would as well. Falmouth has 10 seniors on their roster, while the Raiders boast seven.
“They're a team we could play again, and that would be quite a game to have at the Garden, to play them again. That would be good for high school hockey,” Campbell said.
Coach Hunt knows a rematch could materialize, and the Clippers welcome that potential challenge. “We didn't have it today, they played better than us,” the coach said. “We'd like the chance to play them again.”