The combined unbeaten streaks of the Masconomet and Shrewsbury girls hockey teams numbers 30, an incredible digit that underscores how well these clubs are playing ahead of Friday’s Division 1 quarterfinal matchup.
The No. 1 seed Colonials haven’t lost since March of 2017, heading to Woburn’s O’Brien Rink at 20-0-1. Ninth-seeded Masco (17-3-2) is unbeaten in its last nine and brings the postseason experience of having advanced to the state semis last winter.
Faceoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the winner moving on to next Monday’s state semifinal against Methuen/Tewksbury, one game away from the state final at TD Garden.
The biggest hurdle standing between Masconomet and advancement is Delaney Couture. Arguably the most dangerous player in the state, her 48 goals are the most by any player in Massachusetts, and her 63 points are the most in Division 1.
“She’s the real deal. Every time she’s on the ice you have to know where she is,” said Masco head coach Ryan Sugar. “The biggest thing we’ll have to do is try to take away space and isolate the wing.”
High-powered Shrewsbury has 111 goals this season, though they scored two in a tight one-goal win over Haverhill/Pentucket/North Andover to open the postseason. The Colonials are also stingy defensively, having allowed just 25 goals. Sophomore goalie Riley MacCausland has posted a .923 save percentage.
The Colonials are still relatively unknown for the Chieftains. The champions of the Central/West League, Shrewsbury will travel 50 miles to Woburn and has a few common opponents with Masco: Beverly, HPNA, Algonquin/Hudson, Andover and Billerica/Chelmsford. The Chieftains went 6-2 in those bouts while Shrewsbury was, of course, undefeated.
“It’s tough to know a whole lot about the teams from out that way, but they haven’t lost and they’ve been playing good hockey,” Sugar said. “From our end, we tried to play as tough a schedule as we could to prepare for these kinds of games.”
Sophomore goalie Molly Elmore of Newburyport hasn’t allowed a postseason goal since last year’s overtime loss to Woburn in the state semis. She’s stopped 59-of-59 shots in this year’s playoffs with back-to-back shutouts and is 119-of-127 in her six career postseason starts.
“Molly gets into a zone where she can see everything that’s happening around her. She makes a couple of big saves and it really gets out girls going,” Sugar said.
Masco hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game in its last 11 and has only done so twice all season. That’s a credit not just to Elmore but to senior captain Riane Vatcher, the team’s leader on defense. After the Chieftains graduated their top two ‘D’ from last year’s club, Vatcher and her fellow blue liners have elevated their games to fill the void.
That includes an expanded role for junior Anna Behringer, a spot for freshman Sophia Grutti and major development by sophomore Meghan McElaney, who often skates with Vatcher on the top pairing.
“Meghan didn’t touch the ice much last year and came into this season as a completely different player. She’s been a force,” said Sugar.
Up front, Masconomet has relied on the duo of senior captain Sami Kelleher of Newburyport at center and Abby Gendron on the wing. Kelleher has eight goals and 15 points in the last 10 games and leads the squad with 18 goals. Gendron has been on a similar scoring streak and leads the team in both assists (14) and points (29).
Captain Kate Irons of Georgetown is typically on the off-wing, but the Chieftains sometimes play two centers with three pairs of rotating wings to maximize the depth they have, with freshman Erin Irons, junior Mikayla Vincent and senior Charisse Flanagan all capable of scoring.
“Sami and Abby have been on fire for about three-and-a-half weeks. They’ve doubled their point totals,” Sugar said. “The way Kate plays down low and digs out pucks really compliments the way they play.”
Shrewsbury is 13-0-1 against playoff teams and 7-0 against squads that made the state quarters, though that includes Divisions 1 and 2 and most of the Colonials’ experience came against Division 2 playoff teams.
It’s Shrewsbury’s first year in the Division 1 tourney as well, having lost to Canton in the Division 2 first round a year ago.
The Chieftains (who co-op with Newburyport, Georgetown, Triton and Amesbury) were champions of the Northeastern Hockey League and already set a program record for wins in a season. They know they’ll have to play well to advance against an unbeaten foe, and are banking on benefits from the experience of being in their sixth playoff game in the last 13 months.
“The girls are ready to go. Most of them have been here before and they’re excited to be back in that underdog role,” said Sugar. “We’ve played 22 games and we’ve only lost three, so they know what needs to be done to win hockey games.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
Masconomet Category Shrewsbury
17-3-2 Record 20-0-1
71 Goals for 111
33 Goals against 25
13-3-2 *Record vs playoff teams 13-0-1
2-2-1 *Record vs remaining teams 7-0-0
Sami Kelleher, 18 Leading goal scorer Delaney Couture, 48
Abby Gendron, 29 Leading scorer Delaney Couture, 63
Molly Elmore, 1.42 GAA, 536 saves Goalie Riley MacCausland, 1.27 GAA, 270 saves
*Includes both Division 1 and Division 2