HIGHGATE — Thunderbird hockey fans had plenty to cheer about as the MVU girls’ varsity hockey team earned a commanding 9-1 victory over visiting Brattleboro on Saturday afternoon.
Breezy Parent scored MVU’s first goal early in the first period on an assist by Lindsey Gagne.
Just minutes later, eighth grade forward, Brianna Jarvis scored her first varsity goal, unassisted.
Parent struck again with an unassisted goal of her own, putting the T-Birds up 3-0 by the end of the first period.
The Thunderbirds continued to dominate in the second period, as Jarvis netted a hat trick.
Jarvis was assisted on the first goal by Lora Fresn and Abby Bessette. Fresn and Elizabeth Laroche assisted on Jarvis’ third goal.
Laroche scored the final goal of the second period on an assist by Jarvis with 51 seconds remaining.
Early in the third period, Emily Airoldi, another eighth-grader, added a seventh goal for the Thunderbirds on an assist by Haley Stefaniak.
As the third period progressed, the Thunderbirds continued to control the puck, Haley Stefaniak scoring an unassisted goal and Breezy Parent earning a hat trick of her own.
Brattleboro broke the shutout with a solo goal in the third period.
Madison Conley, starting goalie for MVU, allowed only one goal.
“I’m so happy to be back, and I’m looking forward to the season,” said Conley, who recently returned to the ice after suffering an off-season injury.
On the offensive end, MVU’s leading scorers, Parent and Jarvis, were also all smiles.
“I was hoping to get out there and get a few assists to help my team win, but I wasn’t expecting to put a few in the net,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis, who’s in the eighth grade, has enjoyed joining with the varsity team.
“The older girls are such good leaders, and they are so much fun to play with.”
Brooke Rainville, an eighth-grader who plays defense, also played her first varsity game on Saturday.
“It was pretty exhilarating to get out on the ice with the varsity team,” said Rainville, “but it was also a little scary!”
Parent, in her third season with the Thunderbirds, is now one of the ‘older girls’ on the team.
“The young girls are go-getters,” said Parent, “and I’m really happy with how they’re playing.”
“We’ve been together as a team for a short amount of time; I was glad to see the good connection we already have on the ice.”
The team has adjusted to new players, but they’ve also embraced a new coaching staff. Wynn Paradee, a pillar in the MVU girls’ hockey community, stepped down at the end of the 2019 season.
Brian Fortin, who assisted Paradee for two seasons, took the reigns of the varsity team.
He is assisted by his brother Adam. Both men are MVU hockey alumni.
“Adam and I played two seasons of varsity together for Luke Choquette, who was a great coach,” said Fortin. “We use a lot of what he did in our practices.”
Katie Campbell, MVU’s all-time leading goal scorer, has continued to assist.
“Katie was an offensive dynamo when she played. Having her on the offensive door and having her records up there gives some of the young girls something to strive for,” said Fortin.
When it comes to this year’s team, Fortin likes what he’s seeing.
“We’re very strong up the middle; we have solid centers in Breezy Parent and Brianna Jarvis,” said Fortin. “On defense, Haley Stefaniak and Abby Bessette, who played for us last year, are veteran players.”
Talk of the early-season offensive onslaught brought a smile to Fortin’s face.
“I can tell Breezy Parent really wants it this year. She is going to be an offensive leader,” said Fortin.
Fortin, who assisted the varsity program and coached at the youth level, is familiar with the five eighth grade players who joined the team this year.
“I knew watching them last year that they were ready to play varsity hockey,” said Fortin.
With no youth team for them and the varsity roster needing numbers, the young girls benefited from the efforts of their determined coaches.
“We petitioned for them to be able to play up, and we were approved,” said Fortin. “The young girls are all legitimate hockey players, and they needed a place to play.”
“My leadership group, Stefaniak, Parent, and Bessette, have been the backbone of the team for the last two years,” said Fortin. “They’ve welcomed the new girls.”