Girls’ hockey: Concord drops season opener in back-and-forth affair with Berlin-Gorham-Kennett

Concord’s Gracen Arndt (18) is swarmed by teammates Elliana Wing (22), Julia Kirrane (8) and Addison Twyon (10) after scoring the opening goal against Berlin-Gorham-Kennett at Everett Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.

Concord’s Gracen Arndt (18) is swarmed by teammates Elliana Wing (22), Julia Kirrane (8) and Addison Twyon (10) after scoring the opening goal against Berlin-Gorham-Kennett at Everett Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. Rich Miyara—NH Sports Photography

Concord’s Gracen Arndt (18) goes for the puck as a Berlin-Gorham-Kennett forward comes through center ice.

Concord’s Gracen Arndt (18) goes for the puck as a Berlin-Gorham-Kennett forward comes through center ice. Rich Miyara—NH Sports Photography

Concord’s Caroline Fortin (17) charges up the ice during Wednesday's season opener against Berlin-Gorham-Kennett on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.

Concord’s Caroline Fortin (17) charges up the ice during Wednesday's season opener against Berlin-Gorham-Kennett on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. Rich Miyara—NH Sports Photography

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 12-14-2023 9:47 AM

CONCORD – For the first 13 minutes of the opening game of the season, Concord girls’ hockey looked a step slow. The Tide struggled to possess the puck and found itself down 1-0 against Berlin-Gorham-Kennett at the end of the first period.

But out of the gates in the second, the action picked up substantially. Concord freshman Gracen Arndt scored off a takeaway from BGK goalie Olivia O’Neil to tie the score 1:20 into the period. BGK responded 24 seconds later with a goal from Ava Bartoli to make it 2-1, but Concord’s Ayva Walsh scored on a shot from the blue line to even the score at 2-2 at the 2:01 mark. BGK (1-0-0) added two more goals, both from Nadia Bouchard, to take a 4-2 lead, before Arndt added her second goal of the period to make it 4-3.

Despite having a power play with two minutes left in the third period still down by a goal, the Tide (0-1-0) could not find the back of the net again and lost, 4-3.

Here are three notes from Wednesday’s contest:

Tide turned things around after slow start

After not generating many chances early, something seemed to flip for Concord in the final two minutes of the opening period. They fired a number of shots on net and were able to ride that momentum on offense into the second period.

“The last two minutes gave us a little bit of hope, and we kind of carried it into the next two periods, played pretty well,” head coach Kate Billings said. “Wish we could’ve gotten one more in the third period there, but I’m proud of what we showed. It can only go up from here.”

In particular, Billings added, it was her team’s adjustment to slowing down BGK’s defenders that made the difference.

“We were trying to cover their D a little bit more,” she said. “They had very strong defenders who can shoot the puck, so we were trying to eliminate those shots and protect our D zone a bit more, so that helped. Really just those last two minutes showing that they can put the puck on the net just made them excited for the next couple periods.”

Freshmen step up in their first varsity games

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Arndt scored two of the Tide’s three goals and defenseman Caroline Fortin also made some key plays. With nine new players on the roster this season, Billings will need younger players like Arndt and Fortin to play important roles for Concord to have a successful season.

“They played a big role for us,” Billings said of Arndt and Fortin. “We even put them out there in the big situations when we needed it to happen. I’m excited about their potential and what we can do with their abilities. It’s nice to have the new players.”

Offense shows progress, defense still needs work

If not for some additional key stops from Concord goalie Kaylee Dellolacono, BGK would’ve scored several more goals. Cleaning up the defense to prevent that high volume of high-percentage scoring chances will be a focus for the Tide moving forward. 

“It was a bit sloppy out there,” Billings said. “I’m proud of how we played in the offensive zone. We were getting a lot of shots, going for the rebounds, so that’s great. It’s definitely our D zone that needs a bit of work.”

Concord will hit the ice next on Saturday for a road matchup with Bishop Guertin.