Girls hockey championship: Hanover digs deep, rallies for 13th title

Mar. 10—MANCHESTER — John Dodds asked his Hanover High School girls hockey team to dig a little deeper in the third period of Saturday's championship game against Oyster River/Portsmouth, and that's exactly what the Bears did.

Trailing fourth-seeded Oyster River/Portsmouth by a goal with 15 minutes to play, second-seeded Hanover collected the only two goals in the third and earned a 2-1 victory at SNHU Arena.

Sophomore Elleanor Bradley scored what became the game-winning goal on a shot from the slot with 46.4 seconds to play. The assists were credited to Lorelei Seelig and Maeve Lee.

"I was in the slot and I just hit it top, left side," Bradley said. "I didn't realize we were under a minute left in the game. Once I realized it, I just went crazy.

"Especially the first two periods of the game, we were a little uncomposed, a little rattled just by the strength of the Oyster River team, but we've been a relentless team all season and we're lucky to have such a great coaching staff that really inspired us between the second and third periods. They believed in us, which led us all to believe in ourselves so much more. I think we just had more urgency that last period."

Hanover (16-3-2) had an 11-1 edge in shots on goal in the third, and a 22-11 advantage in the game.

"I may have raised my voice a little bit before that third period," Dodds said. "Mostly I asked them if they believed they were good enough. They were."

Hanover's Faith Lindsay tied the game with 5:39 to play. Hannah Gardner collected the lone assist.

Oyster/River Portsmouth (16-5-0) opened the scoring on a goal by sophomore Mallory Desantis at 9:42 of the second period. Freshman Eliza Farwell had the only assist.

"We didn't really change anything (in the third)," Oyster River/Portsmouth coach Jamie Long said. "High school kids sometimes play a little tight. I don't want to say they're afraid to make mistakes, but they play in that defensive shell sometimes instead of doing what got them there. The effort was there the whole game.

""If you had told me before the game we were going to hold them to two, I would have taken it.

"Our girls left it on the ice. What more could you ask for?"

The Desantis goal was the only one Hanover allowed in its three tournament games. Eleanor Edson was in net for the Bears. Sage Bussiere was playing only her fourth game in goal for Oyster River/Portsmouth.

Bussiere was pressed into duty when Prudence Bellmare, Oyster River/Portsmouth's No. 1 goaltender, came down with mononucleosis late in the season. Bussiere's first game in net was a 10-1 loss to Hanover.

It was Hanover's 13th championship since 2008, when the NHIAA began recognizing a state champion in girls hockey. The Bears were undefeated against New Hampshire competition this season.

"We've been in that situation (trailing entering the third) this year because of our out-of-state schedule," Dodds said. "I think every out-of-state game we played, except for one, was a one-goal game. I think they reached back from that experience."