Greenwich High

Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team edges Staples/Westhill/Staples, 3-1, for key Senior Night victory

Photo courtesy of Ashley Newi: The senior members of the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team gather on the ice with their family members and the Cardinal mascot during Greenwich’s Senior Night ceremony prior to its game against Stamford/Westhill/Staples at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink on January 13, 2023, in Greenwich.

The go-ahead goal for the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team in its key FCIAC game against Stamford/Westhill/Staples came in especially fitting fashion on its Senior Night.

Three of the Cardinals’ senior captains – Caroline Lawrence, Peyton Jelinek and Sophie Roth – combined on the goal during a night in which the team paid tribute to its senior athletes.

Roth scored two goals and Lawrence added a tally for Greenwich in its hard-fought 3-1 victory over the combined Stamford/Westhill/Staples co-op Friday night in an FCIAC matchup involving squads that have been playing excellent hockey of late.

The triumph at Greenwich’s Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink, extended the Cardinals’ winning streak to four games and improved their record to 4-4, after they started the season 0-4. Stamford/Westhill/Staples meanwhile, sports a record of 6-3, as the loss stopped its four-game winning streak.

Photo by David Fierro: Members of the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team react after the Cardinals defeated Stamford/Westhill/Staples, 3-1, at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink in Greenwich on Jan. 13, 2023.

Only four teams qualify for the FCIAC Tournament and currently, Greenwich is in fourth place in the eight-team conference with a 4-2 conference record. The combined Stamford/Westhill/Staples squad is in second place with a 4-1 league mark.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” said Greenwich first-season coach Doug Jebb, who served as an assistant coach for Stamford/Westhill/Staples last winter. “Hats off to SWS, they battled tremendously, but we showed a lot of grit and determination. We’ve won four in-a-row, we’re 4-2 in the FCIAC. I’m very proud of our skaters. Our three leaders are leaders not only on the ice but in the locker room on captains. It was appropriate on Senior Night that they scored the winning goal.”

The game’s go-ahead goal occurred with just 2:26 remaining in the third period. Lawrence, a winger on the Cardinals’ first line with Sophie Roth and Jelinek, converted a shot from close in off a well-executed pass from Sophie Roth, giving GHS a 2-1 lead.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich goalie Emma Kunschner makes a save during the Cardinals’ game against visiting Stamford/Westhill/Staples in an FCIAC matchup held on January 13, 2023 in Greenwich.

“I knew Sophie was going down the ice and I parked myself in front of the net and she passed it back – she’s a very good passer – and it went in,” Lawrence said of her goal.

The Cards’ third goal came with only 22 seconds left in the third period. Sophie Roth, who lines up at left wing, sent the puck toward the empty net and a Stamford/Westhill/Staples player threw her stick toward the net, which resulted in a penalty, as well as a goal being awarded to the Cardinals, making it 3-1.

“Our line has been working really hard together with a lot of good chemistry and we know that a lot of the offense comes from us and we have to step up each game,” said Sophie Roth, who also scored Greenwich’s first goal.

As she has been during each game for the Cardinals, senior goalie Emma Kunschner was outstanding Friday night. Kunschner made 39 saves in limiting SWS to one goal. The visitors have been a high-scoring squad throughout the season.

Some of Greenwich’s starting players line up on the ice prior to the team’s game vs. Stamford/Westhill/Staples.

“I can’t underestimate how good Emma Kunschner was in goal,” Jebb said. Time after time when things were difficult, she would bail us out.”

Said Lawrence: “They had some really good shots and Emma did a really good job. She’s been on a roll the entire season. Every single shot she saves, she always has a positive attitude and I’m really proud of her.”

The matchup’s opening goal was scored by Stamford/Westhill/Staples, which has defeated New Canaan this season. Positioned between the circles, freshman forward Olivia Vazquez received a pass from freshman linemate Ella Pearle and snapped the puck inside the left post, giving SWA a 1-0 advantage at the 8:58 mark of the first period.

Greenwich quickly responded, however, with Sophie Roth directing a shot into the net from the left wing with 6:00 to go in the opening period.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich went up against Stamford/Westhill/Staples on Jan. 13, 2023.

“I was going down the ice and I saw a lane to take the puck and I just brought it in and got a nice shot off,” Sophie Roth said of her tying goal.

SWS began the second period on a power play, but GHS killed it, keeping the score knotted at 1-1. Vazquez, Pearle and senior forward Paige Tuccinardi each registered numerous shots on goal for the visitors during the second period that saw Kunschner and Greenwich’s defenders, rise to the occasion. Jebb was pleased with how his squad performed in each zone.

“Our in-zone coverage was excellent, we limited their chances to one shot,” he said. “On the other side, we pressured them the way that we wanted to. So, we accomplished our goal of getting it in and create unsettled situations.”

Greenwich defender Lexi Carino pursues the puck behind the net against Stamford/Westhill/Staples.

Senior Hannah Wahl and sophomore Lexi Carino were highly effective defensively for the Cardinals, as were junior Lindsay Allen and Daphne Martinez.

Prior to the game, Greenwich honored its nine seniors with a special Senior Day ceremony. The Cardinals’ seniors include: Sophie Roth, M.K. Savio, Jelinek, Nina Clark, Rylan Sepot, Kelsey Roth, Lawrence, Kunschner and Wahl.

“I thought it was very fun, there was a lot going on, but we knew that we had to come out strong the minute the first puck dropped and that’s what we did,” Jelinek said of the pregame ceremony. “We started the game with a lot of confidence.”

Jelinek, a member of the varsity team since her freshman year at GHS, is impressed with how the team is rounding into form.

“We’ve been working a lot on getting ready for this game, it was super important,” she noted. “It was a great win and I’m so excited with how the team is doing so far. We’re getting better every single game and we’re on a good streak right now.”

The jerseys of the seniors on Greenwich’s girls hockey team were displayed behind the bench on Senior Night.

Kelsey Roth, a senior forward and Sophie’s twin sister, has been sidelined since early on in the season after undergoing knee surgery. She has been present at the team’s games to offer her support and leadership as one of the Cards’ captains. She too, is a four-year varsity team member.

“It was definitely very emotional,” Kelsey Roth of Senior Night. “Everyone put everything they had out there and it showed their heart and hustle from the first puck drop until the end – it was great to watch.”

Kelsey Roth reflected on her ice hockey experience at GHS.

“The program has meant a lot to me, I’ve been on the team since freshman year, so I’ve been through it all – three different coaches,” she said. “The one thing that has stayed the same is the idea of family. Every season, no matter what the changes were, we were always supporting one another no matter what and that’s really special.”

Greenwich’s Peyton Jelinek, left, battles Stamford/Westhill/Staples’ Paige Tuccinardi for the puck.

Said Sophie Roth: “I love the sport of hockey and being able to play with this team is awesome.”

“It’s amazing, I have been on this team for four years and I couldn’t imagine it any other way – the team is like a family,” Lawrence added.

Greenwich is in action again on Monday against Wilton/Norwalk/McMahon at Winter Garden Ice Arena in Ridgefield at 3 p.m. Stamford/Westhill/Staples visits Darien on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. matchup.

Greenwich senior MK Savio in action against Stamford/Westhill/Staples at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.

The Cardinals have received stellar production offensively in recent games, particularly from their starting first line.

“That line of Peyton Jelinek, Caroline Lawrence and Sophie Roth – they’ve been solid all the way through,” Jebb noted. “They bear the burden of our offensive expectations and they come through every time.”

Photo courtesy of Ashley Newi: The senior members of the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team gather with their family members and the Cardinal mascot during a Senior Day ceremony at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.

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