Updated: Oct 6, 2021
By Rick Menning
(Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly series featuring the Shoreline Sharks teams in the New England Girls Hockey League and the Connecticut Hockey Conference.)
NORTHFORD, CT -- The mindset never wavered as the Shoreline Sharks' Green Tier II 12-under skaters welcomed the Wizards for a Sunday matchup in the American Lower Fall Division of the New England Girls Hockey League.
Competing with poise and determination against an initially hard-charging Wizards squad that resulted in three first-period goals, the Sharks stayed with the game plan and not only shut down the visitors the rest of the way but ripped off twice as many shots.
And while the desired outcome was not achieved on this particular afternoon, the tenacious young athletes get an 'A' for effort as the second and third periods clearly belonged to the host squad.
Settling down after the early scoring burst by the Wizards, the Sharks came out strong over the middle 15 minutes and controlled the neutral zone possessions which led to better opportunities in the offensive zone.
Arianna Bartolomei, who glided between the posts following a gritty effort by Ivy Massicotte in the initial period, stopped all five shots she faced over the remaining 30 minutes of play.
Pep talk response
After huddling around the bench and talking things over between the first and second periods, the Sharks shifted gears in a big way from a defensive to an offensive mentality that resulted in 12 shots on goal over that stretch.
Brianna Grimsley set the tone for the Sharks' reversal in fortunes when she blasted out a terrific clear from between the defensive circles that prevented the Wizards from making a charge at the net.
That effort enabled Emma Weiss, Avery Cairns and Isabella Criscuolo to go on the attack with super puck handling across the red line and into the visitors' territory.
Powered by the improvement in stickwork and lane coverage, the line of Claire Rodgers, Emma Brockett and Ella Williams came flying down the ice for a 3-on-2 break resulting in a direct shot on goal.
Amazing PK poise
Midway through the second period and facing a penalty kill, the Sharks were again up to the challenge as Peyton LeMay and Annabelle Lane shone brightly with excellent clears and forechecking.
Then, with the Wizards still on the man advantage and trying to set up another charge from center ice, Madeline Ford stole the puck and burst toward the Wizards' goal to nearly light the lamp.
The Sharks kept the momentum in their favor in the latter stages of the middle frame, and the determination shown through as the line of Alexa Halle, Campbell Farber and Cairns ignited firepower in the offensive end. Rodgers capped that effort with a solid shot on a rebound from the left circle.
The Shoreline girls maintained their persistence and, as the period wound down, Margaret Apicella, Farber and Ford had strong scoring chances.
Cairns and Weiss, meanwhile, focused on the puck and kept the Wizards off balance with good forechecking at both blue lines.
Supreme on shots
The Sharks outshot the Wizards in triplicate, 9-3, in that second period.
Shoreline kept the effort in overdrive over the closing 15 minutes, and while the Wizards held their ground the Sharks also continued to show their skills with solid poke checks and all-around pursuit by Criscuolo, Lane and LeMay.