Two of the perennial powers in Massachusetts Girls high school hockey – Duxbury and Canton – will lock heads in what projects to be a pick-em in the 2023 MIAA Girls Division 2 state championship game.
The game kicks off championship Sunday, facing off at 9:00am at TD Garden.
Both programs have had plenty of experience in title games over the years. Duxbury is making its first appearance in the state final since 2014, when the Dragons won the Divison 1 title. It was the last of four straight state crowns, as Duxbury was a D2 state champion in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Canton’s history is far more recent. The Bulldogs played in state finals games in 2017 and 2018, falling to Notre Dame Academy and Wellesley respectively. They were declared a co-state champion in 2020 when the state finals were cancelled due to the pandemic, and returned to TD Garden last winter, where they fell in double OT to Algonquin/Hudson.
The two teams played a regular season matchup back on February 11 that ended in a 1-1 standoff.
Canton (19-2-4) is led by first-year head coach Nikki Petrich, who also has Garden experience, as she was an assistant coach for last winter’s Division 1 state champion – Austin Prep.
As has been their hallmark in the past, the Bulldogs play a strong defensive-minded game, and are perfectly capable and content winning a low-scoring game. They have allowed just three goals in four tournament games, which have included wins over last year’s champion Algonquin, 3-0, and over top-seeded Archbishop Williams, 1-0.
Senior goaltender Carolyn Durand, a four-year starter, will backbone Canton’s charge. A solid and active defense features senior Maya Battista, junior Devan Spinale (10 pts) and freshman Kayleigh Koen (14 pts).
Up front, senior Audrey Koen (19-13-32), freshman Izzy Cusack (13-13-26), senior Ellie Bohane (15 pts) and junior Anna Lehan (14 pts) have led the Canton offensive attack.
Duxbury (23-1-2) will have some extra incentive in this one, as it was Canton that eliminated the top-seeded Dragons in last year’s quarterfinal round.
Coach Dan Najarian’s group is bit more deeper in the front lines, has a solid defense as well (only 13 GA in 22 regular season games), and a veteran presence in goal in junior Anna McGinty.
Senior McKenna Colella (11-11-22) is a premier two-way threat on the blue line. Sophomore Sami Norton and junior Camryn Holloway have been key defenders as well.
Powering Duxbury’s offense will be a quartet of sophomores in Maddie Greenwood (16-9-25), Zoey Madigan (10-11-21), Meghan Carney (12-4-16) and Parker Metzler (5-10-15). Junior Reese Porter (11 pts) and sophomore Maeve Gallagher (10 pts) are two more doube-digit scorers.
“Duxbury has three lines that are all the same from head-to-toe,” said Notre Dame Academy coach John Findley, who team gave Canton one of its two losses this year, and dropped a pair of games to Duxbury. “Dan Najarian does a great job with these girls. We lost two games each by a goal to Duxbury; one of the games we had a three-goal lead in the second period. If I was Canton I would avoid getting penalties.
“Canton will have to get good goaltending in order to win this game. They don’t have a player who can take over the game, but are more of a complimentary team. (Coach) Nikki is one of my favorite people and she works hard with these girls. They are always a well-coached team.”