Simsbury Girls Win State Hockey Title

NEW HAVEN – Even though she was stricken with a 102-degree fever the day before, there was no way that Simsbury High girls ice hockey forward Maggie Grigely was going to miss the Connecticut High School Girls’ Association’s championship game against Guilford on Sunday, March 9.

Grigely slept all day Saturday, skipped practice and pumped herself full of over-the-counter remedies to ensure that she was in the starting lineup for the Trojans.

Whatever she did, bottle and sell it.

Indeed, Grigely scored two goals against No. 5 Guilford and she was named the most valuable player of the tournament, leading the second-seeded Trojans to their first-ever state title with a 3-1 victory at the David S. Ingalls Rink in New Haven.

“She’s a warrior,” Simsbury High head coach Kris Arnold said. “She is a big-game player. Nothing stops her. … She plays with more heart than anyone I’ve ever coached.”

And while Grigely shined, Simsbury’s victory was entirely a team effort.

Even though Simsbury outshot the Indians, 35-17, they gave the Trojans all they could handle, particularly in the third period. Guilford stirred to life after two quiet frames.

The Trojans’ MacKenzie DuBois was magnificent in goal, making numerous key saves, while the rest of the defense, including Nathalie Melanson and Julianna Bologa, was equally stout.

It’s a defense that gave up just 22 goals all year and was somewhat overshadowed this year by a high-octane offense that scored 128 times.

“We’re a team and not a player,” Arnold said. “The team won a game today.”

Grigely opened Simsbury’s account at the 2:57 mark of the first period, snapping a wrist shot past Guilford’s acrobatic goalie Edy Moritz. Grigely was set up by her sister Katie Grigely.

“Huge” is how Arnold described that goal.

“We wanted to get on the board,” he said.

The Trojans dominated the first period, outshooting Guilford 15-1 while consistently pinning the Indians in their own zone.

But Guilford, which upset top-seeded Darien in the semifinals, was not content to just be there. DuBois was forced to make a big save at the 7:10 mark of the first on Catherine Lawrence’s breakaway.

“You have to just go out and angle up with them,” DuBois said.

The Indians nearly leveled again 8 minutes into the second period when Bella Isnard hit the cross bar and the puck ricocheted to the goal line. Less than two minutes later, DuBois saved a Lawrence shot that resulted in a lengthy scrum as the puck hung on the goal line – before DuBois finally covered up.

Guilford paid for its lack of good fortune. Simsbury doubled its advantage at 13:51 when Maggie Grigely beat Moritz high on a wrist shot. Sutton Wunderle and Bologa assisted on the goal.

The Indians had their backs to the wall when Nicole Raccuia nearly scored off a give-and-go during a power play one minute into the third period.

But DuBois was equal to the task.

Simsbury’s Annie Deliso salted the game away at 5:08 when she cut across the ice and scored on a low shot that beat Moritz to make it 3-0.

Still, Guilford did not back down.

Lawrence, who was foiled all day by DuBois, scored with 7:45 left in regulation off a feed from Alexa Petritz.

Simsbury’s defense then stepped up to kill two more penalties at the end of the game. DuBois made nine saves in the period, each one bigger than the next.

When the final horn sounded, all that was left was the celebration and photos to be taken for families and friends.

Not bad for a team that had come so close in years past, only to find itself snake bitten in the semifinals and quarterfinals. Arnold said that the girls never uttered a word about winning a state title until the bus ride down to the rink on March 9.

He noted that the players didn’t even touch the plaque commemorating their fifth straight victory in the conference tournament.

“They said, ‘We’re looking for something bigger,’” Arnold said.

And Maggie Grigely – she of the 102-degree fever – said she couldn’t have felt better.

“I feel honored – we played great,” she said. “I couldn’t be any more excited than I am today.”IMG_1435

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