Neither Rutland nor Rice had ever won a Vermont Girls Hockey State Championship, but that changed Wednesday night at Gutterson Arena on the campus of the University of Vermont.
First up was the DII game with top-seeded Rice taking on #3 Missisquoi. The Knights peppered Thunderbird goalie Makyla Bombardier early and often before Anisa Tarrant finally snuck one by her late in the first. Becca Tudor was only forced to make six saves the whole night, but a couple were spectacular, including a diving stop across the crease to deny Adrianna Dostie near the end of the first period. In the end, the one goal was all Rice needed, as they won their first ever state title by the final of 1-0.
"Oh my team did a lot for me this year so I had one of my better years," said Tudor. "It means a lot that we got to the state finals this year."
"This is crazy," added Tarrant. "We've been working for this, at least the juniors and seniors, for the past three years and we finally made it. It's just such a good feeling."
The DI final pitted nine-time state champ BFA-St. Albans against a Rutland team that had never even been to the title game. The Raiders opened the scoring late in the first period when Meghan Hamilton came up with a steal in the offensive zone and blasted one to the top corner. Caitlyn Laird would add a second for Rutland early in the second before BFA made their charge. The Comets had a goal disallowed before Peyton Dukas poked a Kait Laroe shot over the line to get her team within one. Carolyn Laird was called on to make 13 saves over the course of the night, including a couple in the third to secure the win for Rutland. It's the first time a team other than BFA or Essex has ever taken the DI title.
"It's great to show that the South has got it and has competition," said Laird. "I'm honestly speechless. Mad respect to Middlebury and Essex because they were here cheering for us and there's nothing more we could ask for."
"Well we work so hard every single year to finally have someone from the South or Central Vermont finally win a state championship feels so great," added Hamilton. "It feels like all of our hard work has paid off."
PO Box 4508