The MIAA Girls Division 2 Tournament has been the aberration from the norm with respect to the new power-rating system implemented this year.
While each of the other five state tournament finals to be played Sunday will feature teams seeded no lower that fourth in their bracket, including for #1 seeds, the D2 Girls final has 10th-seeded Algonquin facing off with ninth-seeded Canton.
Algonquin enters the game at 18-3-2 overall. Canton at 18-6-0 overall. This is the T-Hawks first appearance in a state championship game, while the Bulldogs have been no stranger to this spot, having reached the D2 title games at TD Garden in 2017 and 2018, and would have played in the 2020 final if it was not cancelled because of the lockdown (Canton was declared co-state champions with Wellesley).
The T-Hawks have been prolific on offense, having scored 99 goals so far this winter in their 23 games. Canton plays more of a defensive game, and is opportunistic in the offensive zone.
“Canton is a very defensive-oriented team, they play a trap-style defense,” said Natick coach Bruce Ihloff, whose team lost to Canton in the semifinals, and beat Canton on opening night back in December. They also lost to and tied Algonquin in a pair of meetings this season. “Canton’s defensemen are very disciplined and patient. Their forwards and defensemen are fully committed to blocking shots in their own end.
“We haven’t played Algonquin since December and they have a couple of players that are very strong in the offensive zone and a big threat. They have good depth at all positions.”
Coach Mike Hodge’s Algonquin squad has its offense built around a trio of sophomores. Mallory Farrell (29-16-45) has five post-season goals. Emily Johns (23-11-34) had the game-winning OT goal in Monday’s semifinal win over Medfield. Bryn Domolky has put up a line of 15-15-30.
The T-Hawks also feature a solid goatender in senior veteran Lana Pacific (0.95 gaa) and are led on defense by senior captains Jillian Johanes and Sabrina Ferro.
Canton, coached by Dennis Aldrich, has scored 59 goals in 24 games, but are very opportunistic in the offensive zone. Junior captain Audrey Koen leads the Bulldogs with 26 points (13-13), followed closely by senior captains Tess Khoury (12-11-23) and Payton McDonough (5-16-21).
Defensively, where Canton excels the most, senior captain Allie McCabe (17 pts), the Hockomock League MVP, and junior Maya Battista (8-13-21), who has eight post-season points, are involved in a big-way offensively as well.
Canton’s slow start to the season, 1-3 in their first four games, coincided with junior netminder Carolyn Durand (0.95 gaa) out of the lineup. She is on her game.
“Algonquin is going to need to get a lot of traffic in front of Canton’s goalie and generate a lot of shots on net and capitalize when they get their opportunities,” Ihloff said. “Canton is very patient and will capitalize if you make a mistake in your defensive zone.”