by Matt Gajtka
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Peyton Compton (Sanford, Fla.) had an opportunity to change the game.
Suffice it to say, she took advantage of it.
Compton’s spectacular tying goal gave the BK Selects 19Us a timely lift Friday at Nichols Ice Rink, where they earned a 4-1 victory over Gilmour Academy Prep in the team’s lone game of the weekend.
With the Selects down a goal in the first period, Compton gathered the rebound of her own short-handed breakaway miss and immediately went back to work. Charging out of her strong-side corner on her backhand, the right-handed shooter pulled the puck between her legs for a crafty forehand finish as she approached the crease.
“I asked her, ‘What gave you the idea to do that?’ “ 19U head coach Paul Colontino said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t get that on video.”
After a scoreless second period, the eighth-ranked Selects (35-11-3) pounced for a three-goal third, starting with the eventual game-winner from Caroline Kee (McLean, Va.).
Defender Kendall Butze (Shaker Heights, Ohio) scored a pair of goals late in regulation to cap off the win, while Chloe Lewis (Easthampton, Mass.) and Eva McNaughton (Seven Fields, Pa.) split the duties in net.
Colontino said he was pleased with the performance, which followed up a four-game gauntlet the previous weekend — three of those against Shattuck St. Mary’s. On top of that, several players were missing from practice during the week due to both illness and midterm exams.
The BK Selects will face Gilmour for the third time this season next weekend in greater Detroit as part of the Motor City Girls Fest. That’ll be the final chance for the 19Us to experience a heavy workload before the district tournament begins in a few weeks.
“We’ve had a nice mix of opponents, playing just about very top team in the country,” Colontino said. “We’ve learned a lot and seen steady improvement throughout the season.”
It was a similar story for the 16U girls, who beat Nichols School, 3-1, earlier Friday afternoon. The result was reversed from the previous time the teams met in early December, down to the exact final score.
In their final game action before their own trip to the Motor City Girls Fest, the 16Us (37-11-5) got a goal and an assist from Finley McCarthy (Whitefish, Mont.) and single tallies from Morgan Walton (Geneseo, N.Y.) and defender Ashley Mandeville (Pascoag, R.I.) in building a 3-0 lead through two periods.
The Selects committed multiple penalties in the third as Nichols cut the margin to two, but head coach Jake Anderson was bullish after the win, which boosted his team to 5-2-1 since the holiday break.
“We got a little undisciplined in the third, but we’re really close to where we need to be,” said Anderson, in his second season helming the 16Us. “Things we do most of the time, we have to do every time. I’m proud of how we’ve developed and where we’ve come.”
Michaela Hesova (Hovorčovice, Czechia) earned the win with 15 saves in what Anderson called “the last dress rehearsal” before the Motor City event, which could entail as many as six games in three days.
Detroit Little Caesars, ranked fifth in the nation by MyHockeyRankings, looks to be the stiffest competition for the seventh-ranked 16Us at the tournament, at least on paper.
Regardless, the challenge remains for one of the youngest Tier 1 16U teams in the country to continue to have a growth mindset as the end of the season approaches.
“We have to mature and continue to get better,” Anderson said. “We want to possess the puck and be creative with it. Try to have five players playing offense and play really well in our own end.”