Methuen blocks way again

On a clean breakaway, senior right wing Karalyn Jones fires a shot under the crossbar for seventh-seeded Longmeadow’s lone goal in Monday evening’s 9-1 state semifinal loss to No. 3 Methuen-Tewksbury at O’Brien Ice Rink in Woburn. (Photo by Bill Deren)

WOBURN – The Methuen-Tewksbury girls ice hockey team has quickly become the kryptonite to the superstars of the Longmeadow Lancers (WHS co-op).
Cassidy Gruning scored four goals in the first 20 minutes of the state Division 1 girls ice hockey semifinals and No. 3 Methuen-Tewksbury turned back seventh-seeded Longmeadow 9-1 Monday night at O’Brien Rink.
“They’re always tough,” Longmeadow coach Melissa Vandermyn said of the opposition, which sported just one loss on the season. “They worked hard; they deserve it.”
Methuen-Tewksbury (21-1-1) controlled the tempo from the outset.
Gruning stuffed a rebound past Longmeadow goalie Kayla Brown for the first Methuen goal just a minute into the game. Julia Masotta and Lydia Pendleton assisted.
Again, about midway through the opening period, Gruning scored. Brown made the initial save on a shot, diving flat onto her stomach to swipe away the puck. The puck squirted out in front of the open side of the net though, and Gruning had the easy tap in. Pendleton and Masotta were again credited with the assists.
Methuen nearly made it 3-0 in the final seconds of the period, but Brown made a nice save. The Longmeadow goalie would remain under fire all game.
Early in the second period, Gruning dialed up the offense, scoring just 10 seconds in. For the third time, Masotta and Pendleton earned assists. It would be the first of six goals in the period.
Methuen’s sharp-shooting forward then created a semi-breakaway for herself and proved that she was nearly unstoppable out in the open ice, flipping the puck into the net for a 4-0 lead with 10:06 remaining in the middle frame.
It was Gruning’s fourth straight goal. Her teammates soon got in on the scoring act.
Brenna Greene delivered a scorching slapshot that found its way through traffic into the net with 6:40 remaining in the period. Carolyn Curley hammered home her team’s sixth goal 18 seconds later. A seventh goal came 27 seconds after that on a goal from Masotta. With 3:47 left in the period, Curley made it 8-0.
“I think we were a little manic,” coach Vandermyn said. “That can obviously cause some run-around. Unfortunately, that’s when pucks go in the net.”
Longmeadow’s Karalyn Jones broke up the shutout, scoring with 2:11 on the second period clock. Jessica Driscoll rounded out the scoring for Methuen with a third-period goal.
Longmeadow finishes the season with a record of 14-3, advancing the furthest they ever have in the tournament.
“This senior class is by far the hardest working, the most motivating, and the biggest group of leaders we’ve ever had,” coach Vandermyn said. “Kayla Brown and Brigitte (Goeler-Slough) lead by example. They’re a little more on the quiet side, but they lead by example. Karalyn Jones and Katie Guidrey – they’re both a little more vocal, but they both work hard on the ice. They’re not always the most skilled player out there, but they show everybody else if you work hard you can beat the best player out there. You can’t match that; you can’t teach that – work ethic and drive – and they definitely have it.”
“This whole team believes in each other,” she added. “The first line believes in the third line. The freshmen believe in the seniors, and the seniors believe in the freshmen. …They’re all four years apart and they don’t go to the same schools so they don’t get to hang out a lot so getting them to come together in what seemingly is a short period of time is pretty incredible, and this team did it very well.”
Longmeadow is comprised of players from all over Western Massachusetts, including Westfield, Southwick and the hill towns.

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