WOBURN, Mass. -- It’s an adage as old as hockey itself: Get pucks to the net and good things will happen.
No. 5 Belmont became proof positive for the saying once again, as they squeezed another point out of No. 6 Woburn, Wednesday night at O’Brien Rink. Marauders junior forward Alexandra Cellucci took a shot from the slot with 11 seconds remaining. The puck slithered through the pads of Tanners netminder Courtney Davis and into the net, tying the score, 3-3.
The tie gave Belmont (14-3-1) a 1-0-1 record on the season series with the Tanners, after knocking off Woburn by a 3-2 score on Jan. 14.
At the time, it was considered the upset of the season.
Now, it’s time to consider the Marauders as the real deal.
“[In the dressing room] they said, ‘We must be better than them, we beat them once and tied them once,” Belmont head coach Mark Haley’s team told him postgame.
Haley answered them with a rhetorical, “Yes.”
It’s not as though Haley would tempt fate again.
“Fortunately, we don’t see them again,” he said with a smile crossing his face.
Although the Middlesex small division Marauders will not see Woburn (14-2-1) in the upcoming Division 2 state tournament, they can extrapolate their game plan.
“Defensively, they do a good job,” Tanners head coach Bob MacCurtain said. “They kept us to the outside for the most part. They don’t quit. Obviously, they battled us hard.”
Playing a sticky forecheck, Belmont was able to bottle up the Tanners’ top line of Emily Lissner, Bryana Harron and Kayla Smith through the first period with no small contribution from their top blue line duo of senior captain Britta Marden and sophomore Kendal Brown. The teams went to the first intermission with no score.
Woburn chiseled away at the Marauders’ front in the second, however, with the first line setting up shop in front of netminder Megan Foley (15 saves). The Tanners used pressure down low to take a 2-0 lead on similar looking goals.
First, Harron collected a rebound in the crease at 1:20 of the second. The tally was set in motion by Lissner’s work behind the net, feeding Smith out front for a one-timer, with Foley making the initial save.
A little more than a minute later, Harron collected the puck along the back side boards and slid a pass over to Lissner for a scoring chance. Again, the Marauder defense was unable to clear away the rebound in time. Smith put back the rebound for a 2-0 lead at 2:51.
“They had their moments tonight,” MacCurtain said of his top line. “I just didn’t think they were consistent enough.”
Belmont whittled down the lead to a goal midway through the second with Shannon Reynolds banking a shot off a Tanner defenseman from below the goal line.
Woburn returned to the room with a two-goal cushion after junior defenseman Cassandra Connolly’s power-play tally with 41.4 seconds.
In the third, Belmont again applied the vice to the Tanners’ transition game while they continued throwing rubber on Davis at any given chance. The Marauders got a bounce in their favor with 6:43 remaining as Caroline McCarthy’s screen shot bounced into the net on the power play.
With Foley pulled in the final minute of play, the Marauders’ had a second brush with puck luck. Cellucci’s shot from the slot caromed off a Woburn blue-liners skate and then under the right leg of Davis.
It all goes back to that old saying, which Haley offered to his top line of Cellucci, McCarthy and Erin O’Donovan throughout the game.
“Take the shot and see what happens.”
A TRUE TURNAROUND
Belmont likely will enter the Div. 2 tournament as a top four seed, along with a measure of confidence.
It wasn’t always that way.
“When these kids were freshmen, they didn’t win a game,” Haley said of the Marauders’ 2008-09 season.
Haley, who’s been behind the bench for all of Belmont’s 18 girls’ hockey seasons, has seen his team rise and fall, only to see them ascend again.
“They’ve worked hard for four years, and look what you have.”