U-14 Girls Capture Middlesex Conference Crown

Legendary Philedelphia Flyers hockey coach Fred Shero said to his 1975 Stanley Cup winning hockey team “Win today, and we walk together forever”. That statement rang true on Sunday, April 1 at 9 p.m. in Arlington’s Buck Hills Hill Rink.

The Winthrop Lady Vikings U-14 “A” team was crowned Middlesex Yankee girls conference 14 and under major champions.  The Lady Vikings had to beat a select team from New Hampshire known as the Northern Lady Cyclones, a team that finished first in the league with an impressive record of 19 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie. In first place all season long the Cyclones put the only 3 losses on the Lady Vikings resume{11-3-1}all year.

En route to the title game, Winthrop had to knock off a tough Natick team in its opening round game. It was a tough contest that the lady Vikings won 2-1 in dramatic fashion. Down 1-0 in the late in the third period, the Lady Vikes got a power play with a little under 4 minutes left to play when Caroline McKinnon  scored a beauty to notch the score at one a piece. Then with only 28 ticks left on the clock Emma Rudser took a feed from McKinnon and deposited it into the Natick net sealing the game, and sending the Lady Viking faithful into a frenzy.

In the semi-final game against a very tough Newton/Cambridge team, the Lady Vikings jumped out to an early lead when Flora English ripped a bullet by the NC goaltender off an assist by Carloline McKinnon.

“Flora English, and Caroline Mckinnon were dominant throughout the playoffs,” coach Anthony Martucci said.

The Lady Vikes extended their lead to 2-0 when McKinnon tipped home a nice slap pass from Annie Mahoney.”Annie  Mahoney is a talented hockey player, she reads the game well,” said assistant coach Kevin McKinnon.

Cambridge cut the deficit in half early in the third period, but a beautiful end to end rush by Julianna Kennedy capped off with a low wrist shot in the far corner of the Cambridge net sent the visitors packing, and propelled the Lady Vikes into the finals. ”Julianna is a difference maker, she controls play when she is on the ice,” Martucci said.

In the championship against the Lady Cyclones the Lady Vikes played their best hockey of the tournament. Lady Vikings goalie Gretchen “Goose” Howard  was incredible in all 3 games, but in the finals “she was lights out,” Martucci said. In the big game it was the line of Meg “Diva” Dolan, Emma Rudser, and Nicole Pucillo who got things started by potting the game’s first goal. a gritty tuck from Emma Rudser assisted by Dolan, and Pucillo. “That line played a near perfect game,” said assistant coach Kevin McKinnon. At the end of the first period the score was 1-0, but the Lady Vikes wanted to add to that lead, and they did with a nice shot off the stick of Julianna Kennedy to put the Lady Vikes up 2-0, a lead they carried into the final stanza.

The third period opened with some action in the Winthrop end, but Gretchen Howard was unflappable once again.  When the Cyclones put the Lady Vikes on the power play in the middle of the period it was McKinnon again whose top shelf snipe brought the lead to 3-0. With the trophies only 6 minutes away, the Cyclones tried desperately to get one by Howard, but the stellar defense of Julianna Kennedy, Annie Mahoney, Natalie Fitzpatrick, and the team’s youngest player Emma English would have none of that.

“We have the best defense in the league, our youngest player Emma English is a rising star,” assistant coach Joe Scarfo said. As the time ticked away, there would be one more thrill at Buck Hills Hill. Taking a perfect outlet pass from linemate Ali Scarfo, Caroline Mckinnon went the length of the ice, sprinted by the Cyclone defense,  cut across the goal crease and slid a beautiful backhander by the goalie to drive the final nail in the Cyclones’ coffin.

“It was a team win, our coaches have been telling us from the beginning to play together as a team, and that is what we did,” said Caroline McKinnon. Just shortly after 9 p.m. on April Fools Day the Lady Vikes were presented with the championship trophies, and a memory that will last forever.

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