Oyster River and Portsmouth’s newly merged Girls Hockey team played their final home game this season against Concord High School on Thursday night. For the starting lineup, Riley Deans (‘19) and Ally Marshall (‘19) were on defense, Laura Dreher (‘20), Grayson Leitchman (‘17), and Susie McDonough (‘17) were on forward, and Sallie Squire (‘20) was in goal.
Within the first five minutes of the first period, Julia Ravenelle (‘18) scored off an assist from Anna Mazza (‘20). By the end of the of the first period, two more goals were scored by Tori Liebel (‘19) assisted by Ravenelle and Mazza respectively. In the second period, Delana Erickson (‘17) from Concord scored, but Marshall maintained our 3 point lead with an assist from Dreher. At the end of the third period, Concord’s Erickson had scored again, but the game resulted in a win for OR/Portsmouth with a score of 4-2.
The merge with Portsmouth has proved to be very beneficial; before this season, Portsmouth didn’t have a girls hockey team. Now with a larger roster, the players can have more time to recover before getting put back in the game. Our home team was seeded fifth, but they just beat the Concord who was seeded fourth.
Two key players will be graduating this year: Leitchman and McDonough. Both girls were introduced to the rink at a very young age, but initially took on a different path than ice hockey.
Leitchman’s love for being on the ice began when she was just five years old. She was a figure skater until she broke her leg at eleven years old and decided to switch gears. “I mostly [started playing] because my brother played and I thought it was cool,” she explained.
This past game is now one of Leitchman’s most memorable games. “With this win we were given a shot at securing a home playoff game. We haven’t made it to the playoffs since I was a freshman so to have [this] opportunity is a big deal. The pride I felt in my team made it one of the most memorable games I’ve played in.”
Despite the new merge with Portsmouth, Leitchman felt that “this year’s team probably has been the closest I’ve ever had. Although we lost some key players to injuries, we have been able to continue with the same level of play because of our large roster.”
Leitchman hopes to continue her ice hockey career throughout college by playing club hockey at UNH.
McDonough started on ice at the age of five, but she hated taking skating lessons. When she was seven she joined a youth hockey team and found her love for the sport. “It’s unlike other sports I’ve played because it’s so fast paced. Also, for other sports, you have to be able to run to play, which everyone can do, but in order to be a skilled [ice hockey] player, you also need to be a good skater. Skating is a challenge in itself and I like challenges.”
Aside from the challenges she is faced, McDonough’s favorite part of this sport is the team. “Hockey is a huge time commitment so we spend a lot of time together. We have inside jokes and can always count on each other for a smile or laugh when we are having a bad day,” she explains. As for her favorite memory of this sport, McDonough recalled of the time the UNH strength coach shortened a hockey stick that a UNH player had broken so that she could use it.
McDonough wants to participate in club hockey in college and hopes to keep playing even further into the future.