Franklin's Mitchell lifts South to MSHCA All-Star win

WORCESTER,Mass. -- Overtime appeared imminent in Saturday's 2nd Annual Aleppo Shriners/Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association girls’ hockey All-Star Classic.

With the North and South girls deadlocked with less than a minute remaining. South, which waited until the final period for its offense to finally erupt, saw that trend continue when it needed to most. Franklin's Alex Mitchell was on the receiving end of a perfect down ice feed from Hingham's Tori Messina. The senior forward broke in alone behind the defense on North goaltender Courtney Davis of Woburn and flipped a shot above the catching glove to give South a thrilling 4-3 triumph at DCU Center.

During the first 30 minutes, North took command, grabbing a 2-0 before South re-discovered its offense at a most opportune time after scoring four times in the final frame.

"I got a really nice pass from the defense and I just went off," said Mitchell. "I saw the top right corner open so I just went for it. We wanted to get this win and prove that South teams can actually play hockey. We all knew we needed to go out there in the third and play as hard as we could because it was the last period for all of us and we didn't want to lose."

South's comeback began at 1:13 of the third. Forward Maggie Layo (Sandwich) got it all started after poking in a rebound from the short side to make it a 2-1 contest. Three minutes later, Falmouth's Alexa Scribner re-directed a Messina blast from the left circle that eluded Davis tying matters at 2-2.

South's offensive rejuvenation continued less than a minute later. Layo netted her second with a hard wrist shot from inside the left circle to put her team on top 3-2. Albeit a bit frazzled having surrendered its lead, the North squad was able to answer back a mere 21 seconds following Layo's tally. Woburn's Emily Lissner, taking a nice feed from Brittani Lanzilli of Medford, broke in behind the defense and beat South netminder Maddie Scavotto to pull her team even at 3-3 at 5:55.

Things quieted down a degree over the next eight minutes. Both teams had chances to move their respective teams in front but failed to convert. That would set the stage for the dramatic finish with Mitchell scoring the game-winner coming at 14:29.

"We went into the locker room after the second period and all the coaches told the girls that the worst lead in hockey is a two-goal lead," said South and Hingham head coach John Findley. "We told them to stop cycling the puck and go to the dirty parts of the rink and to start putting up shots on net. We know anything can happen in this game. We had a lot of scoring chances over the first period and a half but just couldn't put the puck in. We knew our girls could do it so we are happy that plan worked out for us.”

Findley added, “Momentum is huge in hockey and every line takes after the other line's momentum and that's what happened today. I was especially proud of our two Barnstable defensemen [Kylie Hallam and Haley Payne] because both played more-aggressive in the third and both were involved in a couple of nice plays in the end to help keep the puck out of the net for us."

Arlington Catholic's Danielle Kelly gave North the early lead at 2:36 of the first period when the forward put back a rebound off an initial shot by Bridget Kelly. Things remained that way until the 7:10 mark of the middle frame. Ursurline Academy forward Meghan Lawlor, on the power play, positioned herself 20 feet in front of the net and ripped a shot just underneath the crossbar extending North's lead to a pair. Seemingly in control, North lost its grip in the third as South managed to control the tempo for much of the period which led to its highlight-reel finish.

"Things got really wide open in the third," said North and Acton-Boxborough coach Brian Fontas. "That was easily the South's best period. They have some very good players over there. Overall this was a fun experience. It was a good way for a game to end. I just wish we were on the other side of it. This game is great for girls high school hockey and I was honored to be the coach of this team."

South finished with 30 shots while North closed out with 24.