For the first time in two weeks and for just the second time this season, the Nantucket Whalers girls hockey team suited up for a regular season game. They traveled to Walter Brown Arena, the home of Boston University’s girls hockey team, to take on the Brookline Warriors. The Whalers lost the game 5-3, but made it interesting after scoring two quick goals in the third period after falling behind 5-1. The Whalers are now 0-2 this season but showed signs of improvement as the game progressed.
"Overall I am happy because the girls didn't stop fighting and that was clear in the third period," head coach Liz Collins said. "We came back and we felt like if we played like we did in the third period the whole game, it could have been a different outcome. I think the girls are going to take that energy into tomorrow (against Scituate) and hopefully get the win."
The first period wasn’t particularly clean for Nantucket, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the Whalers had played just one game this season while the Warriors had played four.
"I thought it was pretty evident we had only played one game so far this season," Collins said. "I felt that way about the first and second periods, but there was good leadership that helped us pick it up like players including (junior forward) Emerson Pekarcik telling the girls we need energy on the bench and stuff like that."
The Warriors got on the board three and a half minutes into the first period off a slapshot by Julia Janowski. With just under three minutes to go in the opening period, Brookline struck again off a whacky shot from the side of the net by Sofia Hauser where the puck appeared to have eyes as it somehow trickled through Whaler goalie Caroline Allen’s pads to give the Warriors a two-goal lead.
The Whalers were called for a penalty that put Nantucket on the penalty kill for the final 16 seconds of the first period and the first four or so minutes of the second period when junior forward Bailey Lower was called for a cross-check. It was a difficult ending to a period the Brookline Warriors outshot Nantucket 10-2 in.
But Nantucket didn’t let that penalty stop them from getting off to a strong start in the second period as junior captain Claire Misurelli scored in the first 15 seconds of the period off assists from senior captain Lydia Johnson and eighth grade defenseman Mia Beaudette. Johnson skated behind the Warrior net and found Misurelli wide open in the slot, an opportunity Misurelli will rarely spoil, to make it 2-1 Brookline.
"That was a beautiful goal," Collins said. "It was great to see that. We didn't let any power play goals in. We went five-for-five on the penalty kill and then scored that goal there, so that was definitely a positive."
The Whalers built on that momentum and executed an impressive penalty kill. The penalty was negated after Nantucket drew a high-sticking penalty with 51 seconds remaining on Lower’s penalty.
The Whalers got a shortened power play opportunity after those 51 seconds passed but were unable to score the equalizer in that 1:09 of time on the man advantage.
Brookline regained their two-goal lead after Janowski threw a shot on net, which produced a juicy deflection off a Nantucket defender that sophomore forward Izzy Paes was able to bury to extend their lead to 3-1.
Nantucket got a power play opportunity after Lower was tripped up on what appeared to be a breakaway, but no penalty shot was awarded.
The Whalers were unable to score on that power play, and Brookline then went on to produce a point-blank scoring chance opportunity in front of Nantucket’s net that Allen had no chance of being able to stop as the shot sailed over the glove hand, making Brookline’s lead 4-1.
"I felt like we could have done a better job of allowing Caroline to see the puck," Collins said. "She wasn't able to see the puck on some of these goals and we didn't really get that corrected until the third period. I think that our defense was crashing into her where she would make a save and then when she went over to make the second save, we weren't clearing the area out for her."
The Warriors entered the final period already up three goals and made it a four-goal lead in the first two minutes of the period, with the goal scored by Janowski again.
It appeared the Warriors would cruise to a 5-1 victory, but Nantucket didn’t back down. Sophomore forward Mayson Lower scored Nantucket’s second goal of the game to make it 5-2. The goal came after Bailey Lower ripped a shot on net and Mayson gained control of the loose puck off the rebound and buried it for her first goal of the season.
"I talked to her between shifts where I told her to bring the shot down a little bit," Collins said. "She was trying to shoot high when mid-level was where the goalie was weaker and that is what she did. That was a great shot."
Minutes later, Mayson returned the favor when she found Bailey Lower up ice. Mayson made a nice play while along the boards, drawing two players to her. But Mayson was able to send a soft pass to the middle of the ice where Bailey was able to take it, skate into the offensive zone, and send a beautiful wrist shot into the back of the net with 1:48 to go in the game to make it 5-3, a score that would stand as the final.
"Mayson and Bailey were great and sort of picked up where they left off last year in the final game against the Vineyard," Collins said. "Mayson came up to me and even said 'just like last year coach.' I think that if we played this team after four or five games under our belts it could have been a different outcome, but hopefully we can get that first win tomorrow."
The Whalers will be in action again on Friday, December 30 when they travel to Hobomock Ice Arena to take on the 1-3 Scituate Sailors.