Paquette leads Sabers to historic first tourney win

Staff photo by TOM KING Souhegan's Shannon Paquette, center, celebrates her fourth goal in Souhegan's first girls hockey tourney win ever, 4-1 over St. Thomas-Winnacunnet in ther prelims on Tuesday at St. A's Sullivan Arena.

GOFFSTOWN – It was the Shannon Paquette Puck Show at Saint Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena on Tuesday night.

And as a result, history was made.

The Sabers forward scored four times to give Souhegan its first girls hockey tournament victory ever, 4-1, over St. Thomas-Winnacunnet in the preliminary round.

“It’s amazing,” said Paquette, who scored three of her goals in the third period to break a 1-1 tie. “It’s just a great thing for our team. There’s no words.”

No, just goals. With the Sabers down 1-0 late in the second, she got the equalizer and then just took the game over in the final 15 minutes

“Somebody definitely had to,” Sabers coach Kelli Braley said, her No. 7 team (11-8) now headed to face No. 2 Hanover in Friday’s quarterfinals. “Makayla (goalie Lachance, 12 saves) did a great job making sure we stayed in it.

“And Shannon did what great captains do, put the team on her back and off we went.”

Paquette pounced on a puck at center ice, and before any defender could reach her, fired one that beat St. Thomas-Winnacunnet goalie Shannon Abbey (13 stops) to the far corner to give the Sabers a 2-1 lead just 1:36 into the third.

“She had an open spot, and I was trying to hit right through it,” Paquette said.

“She’s a good player, we knew right from the beginning that we had to be aware of her,” ST-W coach Al Oliveira said, his first year, 10th ranked co-op team done at 6-9. “She came, she played, she did exactly what we expected her to do. She played really well.”

Paquette wasn’t done. From center ice she just slapped at a puck that somehow found its way in the net at 10:46 for the hat trick, calling it “The luckiest goal I’ve ever had.” She finished up with a left-wing shot at 11:23, assisted by Clare Woodford.

“Everybody working behind the plays to get her to spring is invaluable,” Braley said, crediting Paquette’s teammates with fighting for possession to send her off to the races. “Hockey’s a funny thing in that. She’s our finisher, everybody got her free, and she was able to do what she does best, score goals.”

ST-W surprised the Sabers with a first period goal on a slow sliding shot off the stick of Biralee Logue at 2:55 of the first period, assisted by Kylie Youngclaus and Sara Sullivan.

But the Sabers, who buzzed around Abbey most of the second period thanks to two power plays, got the equalizer. Those penalties, Oliveira said, ignited the Saber attack. “It gave them a little bit of momentum,” he said.

Shortly after the second power play, Paquette zipped down right wing and beat Abbey high to knot the game a 1 at 13:56. Saber Maggie Dix got the assist.

“I was just super excited,” Paquette said. “The whole team was super excited. It got us fired up. We were all ready to go by then.”

And now they go to face defending champ Hanover, whom the Sabers played tough in a 2-0 regular season loss. But now they have the confidence of their first tourney win in the program’s dozen years or so.

“I’m over the moon,” Braley said. “I’m happy for these girls, they worked so hard. We know we can be in it at least, and give them a game. We won’t make it easy.”

You know Paquette won’t, for certain.