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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Tuesday night, the Westwood Wolverines girls hockey team made the trek to Brighton, where they took on the Notre Dame Cougars at Warrior Arena - the ice on which the Bruins hold their practices. While the Wolverines would ultimately lose the game, 5-1, it was a unique experience - not to mention a far closer game than the final score would have you believe.
Westwood struck first when Lilllian Hunter scored an unassisted goal barely three minutes into the first period. Unfortunately, minutes later, a body-checking call on Kendall Blomquist led to a power play goal from Notre Dame’s Eva Donohue, tying the game at 1-1. With less than a minute left in the period, goalie Alys Tsolias came up with some big saves to fight off another Notre Dame power play (which was awarded after a cross-checking call) to end the period. The game remained knotted.
There wasn’t much action in the second period, as both teams stalled offensively. Credit should be given to Notre Dame’s Siobhan Kelleher, who consistently shut down Westwood’s pressure by being just a step quicker than everyone else on the ice. With some more nice saves and a few missed opportunities, the period ended, scoreless, and the game remained 1-1 heading into the final period.
After the game, coach Ed Amico would talk about how just a few minutes against a team as good as Notre Dame can doom you. That’s what happened at the beginning of the third period, as just a few minutes of lesser hockey would result in three Notre Dame goals within six minutes. A game that was so close before it became a rout.
“They played really well, but as we talked about in the locker room: great team, great group of girls - they play really hard - but we have one of the toughest schedules in the state and we have to play 45 minutes. Today, we took a few minutes off - four minutes - and when you take four minutes off against a good Notre Dame team, they’re going to get two or three goals. That’s what happened. So, lesson learned. They have a good group in there and they’ll come back Saturday and play really hard.”
Moving to 5-3 on the year and 3-0 in the Tri-Valley League, the coach still saw some good things in the game - most notably the play of first-year wing-turned-goaltender Alys Tsolias.
“Alys Tsolias, first year playing goal. She actually volunteered to play in goal because we were unsure of our goalie situation. She was a winger last year. Don’t let the score deceive you - she made a lot of nice saves,” said the coach. “Lily Hunter, a senior, got a goal tonight - her third in two games - which means she has more goals in her last two games than she did all of last year. She’s been working really hard and getting a lot more ice time, and it’s paying off for her, which is great.”
Even if the result wasn’t what the team was hoping for, playing where the Bruins practice is a unique experience for which many adults would pay a lot of money. Coach Amico pointed out that the team has had a couple of fun game sites, which allowed the girls to experience some unique atmospheres most athletes will never get the chance to.
“It’s awesome,” said Amico. “I tell the girls all the time that high school hockey only comes once - let’s make the best of it. So we played a game at Providence College on New Year’s Eve, we’ll play a game here at Warrior rink. [T]hey’re our home games, but it’s nice to go to some of these special places where maybe they wont have a chance to be able to play [in the future]. A lot of them aren’t going to play in college, so let’s go to Providence College, let’s go here where you look in the rafters and see the Bruins. It’s great for the kids.
“You only get to do this once, so let’s make the most of it.”