Walpole, MA - The tournament consisted of ten U19 teams: Aurora (PWHL), Buffalo Bisons, Cumberland, HTI (EWHC), New England Hockey Club (JWHL), Niagara, Syracuse Nats, Team Illionis, Trinity, and Walpole Express (EWHC).
The Express traveled to Buffalo with only eleven skaters and two goaltenders. “I am really proud of my girls. To skate every other shift for four games is very tough and they did such a great job. Even though we did not get the outcomes we wanted, going 1-3 on the weekend, I was still very impressed with how well they played and how hard they worked every single game,” said Coach Danielle.
The Express started off the tournament with a 3-2 win against Cumberland, a team from Canada. Sam Molind, Hannah Murphy, and Hayley Parrish were the goal scorers for the Express and Lily O’Neil was in net. Naomi Leasck, known as a goaltender, had a very unexpected role this game, lacing up as a forward. “Naomi approached me before we were leaving for Buffalo and insisted that she bring her player gear because she knew we were short players and she wanted to help the team any way that she could. I was very hesitant to play her as forward but when I did, I was very impressed, said Coach Danielle. "Naomi has played roller hockey most of her life which is why she was so confident to play forward. When she was out there, she knew all the systems, caused turn overs, and brought lots of energy both on the ice and on the bench.”
For the Express’ second game of the tournament they were matched up against Trinity, another team from Canada. This game, Naomi was in net. The Express were all over Trinity in the first but could not find the back of the net. Trinity got on the board twice in the second giving them a 2-0 lead. “I knew this would be one of those games. You out play a team most of the game and the few chances they get, they capitalize on those opportunities,” said Coach Danielle. Sami Barletta put the Express on the board to make it a 2-1 game. Hayley Parrish then tied the game up with 5 minutes left. Express were then short handed for the last 2 minutes of the game, allowing Trinity to find the back of the net with just 12 seconds left. Trinity would take the 3-2 win.
The Express faced two very good teams on Saturday. For their first game, they were up against Aurora, a team from Canada that plays in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League. Lily O’Neil was in net for the Express and she was outstanding. “This was our best game of the tournament. Every single player had a great game. Aurora was able to sneak 2 by Lily but what an awesome back and forth game,” said Coach Danielle.
Later on Saturday, Express faced league rival HTI. In the Express’ first showing vs HTI, HTI beat up on the Express defeating them 7-2. Lily O’Neil had her best game of the season. She faced over 55 shots and only allowed 3 goals. HTI was up 3-0 after two periods. Unfortunately, a few mistakes caused by the Express led to three of HTI’s goals. The team played fantastic in the third not allowing any goals.
“I’m really glad we went to this tournament. We played against some great teams and my girls had some of their best games of the season. Our biggest issue is that we are struggling to find the back of the net,” said Coach Danielle.
The Express return to league play this weekend with two home games vs OHA.