BOURNE — When the puck first dropped on the 2021 girls hockey season, it just seemed like Duxbury was in for something special. With the perfect combination of senior leadership and talented young players, the Dragons came roaring out of the gate.
It was a roll that continued all season.
Senior Mae Pittenger notched a goal and had an assist, as Duxbury (14-1) raised the Patriot Cup title with a solid 3-0 blanking of Pembroke at Gallo Ice Arena on Friday night.
“I think we have a lot of young kids that stepped up,” said Duxbury coach Dan Najarian. “I’ve got a freshman goalie that just had her third shutout in playoff hockey. I have a sophomore who had 25 goals, and I have incredible leaders. I have four great seniors that led these kids through a very difficult time, and it showed today.”
The Dragons didn’t take too long to set the tone Friday night. With heavy traffic developing in front of the Pembroke cage, senior Alannah Akins fired a shot that found its way through, and Duxbury took a 1-0 lead just 1:56 into the contest.
Prior to the Patriot Cup tournament, Pittenger hadn’t been viewed as a scorer, so much as she was a facilitator. That would change during the Dragons’ run, and the senior was back at it again in the second period, when Lily Sparrow fed her the puck. Pittenger’s shot pinballed past Pembroke goaltender Kaleigh Murphy, making it a 2-0 game with 8:20 remaining in the stanza.
“I was just trying to get pucks on net,” Pittenger said. “I’m not known for having the best shot ever, so it’s been nice to get those goals. I didn’t get many before this.”
With 4:29 to go in the second, Pembroke was called for a tripping penalty, setting the stage for Ayla Abban. Just as the power play was expiring, the sophomore sniper took off up the ice, before rearing back and ripping a bullet off the crossbar and in, as Duxbury took a commanding 3-0 advantage.
As Najarian noted, freshman goalie Anna McGinty recorded her third shutout of the Patriot Cup tournament, completing an incredible season for the Dragons.
After coming so close and falling short in past state tournaments during her career, Pittenger smiled as her teammates clenched the Patriot Cup trophy. After all she and her teammates had been through, nothing felt more satisfying.
“Whenever people ask me questions about wearing masks and everything, how hard that is, I just say: ‘I don’t want to complain about anything, because at least I have something.’ I don’t know what I would have done if we didn’t have a season,” Pittenger said. “We are so lucky.”