Thursday, October 17, 2019

On Wednesday night May 29, the MYHSAL girls varsity hockey championship was played out in Ma’ayanot girls high school gym between the 2018 defending champion Heschel Heat and the up and coming Ramaz Rams, who were making their first appearance in the championship game. Adding a definite element of intrigue to the game was the fact that just three weeks earlier the Rams had defeated the Heat 2-1 in the final game of the regular season with two late third period goals.

With recent history very much on everyone’s mind, the game was looking to be a good one.

Heschel came into the game with the league’s best defense, having allowed just six goals all season, including back-to-back shutouts of both HAFTR and Ma’ayanot in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Ramaz however, was also entering the game with a stingy defense, having allowed just two goals in the first two rounds of the playoffs, knocking off the # 1 Eastern Conference seed North Shore 2-1 in overtime in round one, and following that up with a 1-0 win in round two over SAR to reach the finals.

Right from the start, the game proved to be entertaining, as both goaltenders where called on early to make numerous difficult saves, including a nifty glove save made by Heschel senior goaltender Shoshana Scheinberg on a point blank Ramaz shot from the slot. It would take a power play with roughly three minutes to go in the first period to get the defending champs on the board, as senior defenseman Julia Benichou scored on a loose puck that she pounced on at the left point. The puck took a weird bounce on the way to the net, and the tricky shot managed to elude Ramaz’s sophomore goaltender Ita Newman-Getzler to give Heschel a 1-0 lead after 1.

With Ramaz coming into the second period trailing, the Rams began to ratchet up the offense, and after numerous shifts of sustained offensive pressure freshman forward Izzie Ottensoser managed to get her stick on a loose puck just inside the left post of the Heschel net to tie things up at one. In response to the tying goal, Heschel would call a timeout approximately a minute later to refocus their defensive efforts and slow down the fast moving pace of the game. While both teams continued to trade random chances throughout the second period, and despite Ramaz having two power plays in the second, the tide of momentum slowly began to turn back toward the Heat in the closing minutes of the period. After having just given up a breakaway to Heschel with almost one minute left in the period, the Ramaz point men were beaten to a loose puck a second time by Heschel junior Maya Eskenazi who came in to her own with approximately 38 second left in the second, and fired a high rising shot to the right of the Ramaz goaltender, to give the Heat a 2-1 lead heading into the second break.

Armed with the knowledge that in their last meeting they scored two goals in the third to beat the defending champs, Ramaz began the third with a high level of confidence and with very little quit in their game. Yet despite the third period heroics displayed three weeks earlier, Heschel was not about to make the same mistakes they made in the last game of the season, and they clamped down defensively. Throwing all clearing attempts deep, and keeping most of the pucks along the boards, Heschel managed to contain the Rams offense allowing very few chances. With approximately seven minutes left Heschel senior Lara Caligor managed to knock home a rebound from an Eshkenazi shot and the Heat had a two goal lead that they would hold for the rest of the evening.

While both teams played exceptionally, and both goaltender were outstanding, the Heat managed to hold on for a 3-1 win and secure their second championship in two years. The Heat, who have been in three of the last four championship games, and who won their first girls varsity hockey championship last year, have now won back to back championships.

By Jonathan Silverstein