The girls’ hockey co-op program representing Bourne/Mashpee/Wareham/Old Rochester high schools (BMWORR) was one point short of qualifying for the MIAA Tournament last winter.
But buoyed by the squad’s deepest roster to date, 22 players in all, coach Kristyn Alexander has the Canalwomen off to a 4-1-1 start.
BMW debuted as a varsity team five years ago. Old Rochester came board two years ago. Still, the program regularly fielded just enough players to take the ice. This season, the roster lists 12 players from Old Rochester, nine from Bourne, and one from Mashpee.
“Winning the one-goal battles has been a great confidence booster for this program. Our overall goal is to make the state tournament for the first time,” said Alexander.
“Being in those highly competitive games off the bat has shown the girls what we need to do to get to where we need to be.”
The early season success starts with Megan Nolan , a sophomore transfer from Connecticut who has recorded a .939 save percentage and 1.24 goals against average.
“She is just a top-notch goaltender. She sees the puck well, she moves very well, she’s not afraid to challenge,” said Alexander of the Old Rochester student.
“She’s what’s kept us within a one-goal difference in these six games.”
Early games included a pair of 3-2 wins over Sandwich (3-2-1) and No. 18 Plymouth (6-1) to win the Jim Gormley Cup Championship, along with a 1-1 tie against Fontbonne/Latin Academy (2-4-1).
“It’s really exciting to get a good start,” said senior captain Carly LaCasse . “Our spirits are up and we want to keep going.”
On offense, LaCasse has a team-leading five goals and two assists. Junior forward Kaitlin Kelley has produced three goals, and freshman Julia Elicier has contributed two goals and three assists.
Scoring production will be a point of focus for the team, but a sound defense has been vital.
Chelsea Peterson, a junior assistant captain from Bourne, is the squad’s top defender. Kelley, an Old Rochester junior, has been solid on special teams, and senior captain Leah Hidenfelter (Bourne) can shut down teams.
“I think it’s going to be a good season,” said LaCasse. “We’ve missed playoffs by one point in the last two years. It’s pushing everybody, and I think we can do it.”
They’ll face tough competition ahead in Norwell (4-1, 3-0 SEMGHL) and Barnstable (2-0-3, 1-0-1).
“I don’t believe that anyone on our schedule is going to be able to overpower us. I think we’re going to be in every game for the rest of the season,” said Alexander.
“It just depends on the girls showing up, playing hard, staying focused, and executing what we’ve practiced.”
Off to a 4-2 start, Bishop Fenwick convincingly won the St. Joseph Prep Christmas Classic at Warrior Ice Arena, following up a 7-2 semifinal win over Shawsheen with a 6-2 victory over St. Peter Marian in the championship game . . . Braintree, ranked 14th in this week’s Globe Top 20, won the inaugural Boston Latin Christmas Tournament at Murphy Memorial Rink with 3-1 victories over Boston Latin and Andover.
■ No. 10 Canton held down home ice against tough competition — game-winners from Maggie Malloy lifted the Bulldogs to victories over No. 12 Westwood (2-1) and No. 15 Milton (3-2 in OT) to win the Canton Ice House Invitational.
“All last year, we had a lot of last-second wins,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich, of his team’s run to the Division 2 state final against Notre Dame-Hingham.
“We always talk about third periods being ours. We work very hard in practice, at the end of practice to prepare for third periods. To be able to fight through that and get to that point, we just never quit. I don’t think pressure situations or anything like that get to them too much.
■ Andover’s 3-0 blanking of No. 3 Methuen/Tewksbury knocked the Red Rangers from the ranks of the unbeaten. Entering 2018, 11 programs in EMass remain unbeaten: No. 1 Austin Prep (4-0-0), No. 2 Woburn (5-0-1), No. 4 Reading (3-0-0), No. 10 Canton (3-0-2), No. 13 Winchester (3-0-0), No. 14 Braintree (5-0-0), No. 15 Milton (4-0-2), No. 17 Winthrop (3-0-1), Franklin (4-0-2), Barnstable (2-0-3) and Belmont (6-0-0).
Players of the Week
Cate Gallagher, Mansfield/OA/Franklin – The freshman netminder recorded three consecutive shutouts in wins over Medfield and Ursuline along with a tie against Franklin.
Abby Holland, Braintree – Totaling three goals and an assist in 3-1 wins over Boston Latin and Andover, the sophomore was named MVP of the Boston Latin Christmas Tournament.
Julia Maimonis, Lexington – The freshman forward produced a hat trick to lift the Minutemen to a 3-0 win over Medford.
Maggie Malloy, Canton – A junior forward, she tallied game-winners against Westwood and Milton as the host Bulldogs won the Canton Ice House Invitational.
Julia Russell, Stoughton – The junior forward netted four goals in a 5-2 win over Mount Saint Joseph on Saturday before scoring two more against Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton on New Year’s Day.
Games to Watch
■ Wednesday, No. 1 Austin Prep at No. 11 Wellesley, 6:15 p.m. – The Cougars won a 3-2 decision against the Raiders on New Year’s Eve, their closest game of the season so far.
■ Wednesday, No. 14 Braintree at No. 14 Milton, 7 p.m. – Julia Scannell and Kat Buchanan have accounted for 23 of Milton’s 29 goals. The Wamps have allowed just seven all season.
■ Wednesday, No. 18 Plymouth at No. 20 Pembroke, 8:10 p.m. – The Blue Eagles (6-1-0) look to continue a surprising start.
■ Thursday, No. 19 Haverhill/Pentucket/North Andover at No. 6 Westford, 7 p.m. – The newest entry into the Globe’s Top 20 faces a tough task against a Westford squad that recently tied with Woburn.
■ Saturday, No. 13 Winchester at No. 4 Reading, 2 p.m. – Two undefeated Middlesex League foes square off as Winchester looks to establish itself as a power.Globe correspondent Dan McLoone also contributed.