West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy shuts out Hamden, advance to SCC girls hockey final

WEST HAVEN — After taking home the league title last season, the West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy girls hockey team was not going to be denied a return trip to the finals, especially since the state tournament was not an option as the team did not qualify.

Playing with an extra sense of urgency, second-seeded West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy controlled play from the start and never let up in a 2-0 victory over No. 3 Hamden in the Southern Connecticut Conference semifinals at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven.

With the victory, West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy (9-12) advances to play Guilford Friday evening at 7 p.m. at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.

“From start to finish, the girls showed they really wanted this game,” West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy coach Erin Blake said. “It was a full team effort. Every player gave 110 percent. Grace (Nowak) was phenomenal in net. Hamden was a typical Hamden team. (Hamden coach) Jess (Morgillo) runs a tight ship. They gave us everything they had.”

The Westie Sharks controlled play from the start, outshooting Hamden 20-10 in the first two periods and taking a 2-0 lead.

West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy needed just 1 minute, 54 seconds to take the lead when senior Maya Boyhen picked up a loose puck in front and beat Hamden goaltender Marcia Colten.

The Westie Sharks increased the lead to a pair of goals 3:20 later when Emilee DeGrand scored from in front off assists from Ashley Welch and Meghan Dupre.

“I thought they gave us lots of confidence,” Boyhen said of the two early goals. “We pressured early and were able to put the puck in the net. We came out with the intensity needed to win the game. We had the right mindset.”

The two-goal lead was more than enough as the defense of Julianna Montano, Dupre, Rachel Harrison and Taylor Alfano sealed any attempt Hamden would have.

The defense allowed just five shots in each of the first two periods, with goaltender Grace Nowak forced to make just a pair of high quality saves on shots by Isabella Jackowicz in the slot and Julia Crisci from the left face off circle one minute apart with 9:55 left in the middle period.

“We did a great job defensively,” Blake said. “Between Meghan Dupre and Taylor Alfano, they blew away our record in blocked shots this year. They block everything and that helps slow the game down.”

The Westie Sharks poured on the offense with ten shots in each of the first two periods. Colten made 18 saves in the first 30 minutes and was aided by the help of the crossbar off a shot by Caitlin Welch with 30 seconds remaining in the middle period.

“We got down early and had to play catch up,” Morgillo said after her team finished 7-15 on the year. “They made all the plays and came at us hard. They wanted it. They beat us to the puck and won the battles.”

Colten came up big for Hamden throughout the middle period when she denied shots from Julianna Picard from in front with 8:51 remaining, Boyhen in the slot with 5:02 to go, and Alfano’s point shot and rebound by DeGrand with 3:04 remaining.

Hamden put the pressure on in the third period in a desperate attempt to save its season, but Nowak turned aside four shots in the first six minutes. Nowak came up big when she robbed Trinity Sweeney from the right slot with 5:20 left in the game.

“Our defense again was awesome,” Nowak said. “They block shots every single game. They are amazing. We knew this could be our last game. We wanted to give our all and we were able to come away with the win.”

Nowak finished with 16 saves in the shutout, while Colten made 22 saves in the loss for Hamden.

Player of the Game

West Haven defense and goaltender Taylor Nowak — Defense of Julianna Montano, Meghan Dupre, Rachel Harrison and Taylor Alfano combined to allow just 16 shots. Nowak stopped all 16 in posting the shutout.


“The girls want the season to continue. We know there is no state tournament for us. We want to win the league title again. We know it is going to be tough.”

—West Haven / Sacred Heart Academy coach Erin Blake


HAMDEN   0 0 0 — 0
WH/SHA    2 0 0 — 2

1st Period: W — Maya Boyhen 13:06; W — Emilee DeGrand (Ashley Welch, Meghan Dupre) 9:46. Shots: H, 16; W, 24; Saves: H: Marcia Colten - 22; W: Grace Nowak — 16.

Records: H 7-15; W 9-12