By Jean LeBlanc
BERLIN — Senior Maddie Lyons scored two goals and assisted on two others, leading the seven-time defending state champion Hanover Marauders to a convincing 8-3 victory over Berlin/Gorham in the semifinals of the girls' Division I hockey tournament at Plymouth State University on Tuesday.
The No. 2 Marauders (18-1-1) advance to the championship game to take on top ranked Exeter (19-1) on Saturday (10 a.m.), at Southern New Hampshire University Arena (formerly the Verizon Wireless Arena) in Manchester.
Exeter handed Hanover its first New Hampshire loss in years with a 4-3 victory back on Feb. 20. Since then, the Marauders appear to be on a mission to send a message to everyone that they appear ready to take their ninth title in the 10 years that there has been girls' hockey.
The Mountaineers had two good games against Hanover during the regular season dropping a 4-1 decision at Hanover and a 4-2 loss in Berlin.
The champs were focused and ready to play. The Marauders netted the first three goals of the opening period, the first coming at 5:29. Julianne Taube slid a nice pass to Briland Laycock for a short one-timer and a 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later, Clare Gardner was left unmarked in front and tucked home a failed clear-out for a 2-0 lead. A minute later, Hanover quieted the large contingent of Berlin fans on a perfectly executed two-on-one. Senior Mahler Meyerrose fed an open Lyons on the far wing and the Marauder sniper went over the glove of Berlin/Gorham netminder Lauren Frenette and the defending champions were in control 3-0.
However, the Mountaineers did not lay down in this contest. The top line of Shaeleigh Valliere, Rylie Binette and Alyson Blanchette scored 71 goals in 2016-17 between them and they got their first of the night on a Blanchette put back of a rebound to make it 3-1. Blanchette's 12th of the season was set up by her linemates.
Unfortunately for the third ranked Mounties, Hanover had a statement to make and just one minute later with just 2:37 remaining in the first period, Hannah Curtis made a three-goal difference again at 4-1.
The stunned Mounties were still trying to sort things out, when the Marauders struck for the fifth time in the first period, just 40 seconds after their fourth goal. This time it was Meyerrose all alone in front, making it 5-1 after just one period of play.
In the second session, Hanover scored the lone goal. That lamplighter came at 3:39 and it was Lyons unloading a bullet from just inside the blue line from line mate Meyerrose for a five-goal lead.
While most teams might have ended its season trailing by five goals with 15 minutes to play, the Berlin/Gorham girls never considered it. The Scott Valliere and Aisha Rai Thompson coached squad came to play all 45 minutes. Just 27 ticks into the third period, Valliere made it 6-2 with her 17th goal of the year from Binette.
Hanover scored the next two goals. At 2:55, Laycock scored unassisted, and, at 10:28, Meyerrose her second of the day from Tysinger and Lyons for an 8-2 lead. That put the game in running time because of the six-goal deficit.
With 3:37 to play, Berlin/Gorham's Binette split the Hanover defense and walked in alone on Hanover's Celine Barton. Binette deeked her way around Barton to score her 45th goal of the year for a final score of 8-3. Both Valliere and co-captain Emma Schoenbeck had the helping markers.
For the game, Hanover's Barton had 14 saves in the victory. At the other end of the ice, the Mountie's Frenette had 19 blocks.
The loss ended the Mountaineer careers for its six seniors — Stacy Gendron, Kaley Girard, defenders Jacqui Hallisey and Emma Schoenbeck, along with Binette and Valliere — they were big contributors to the girls' ice hockey program and will be dearly missed.
Hanover 5 1 2 8
Ber/Gor 1 0 2 3