Shrewsbury girls hockey advances to Elite 8 after gutsy win over Bishop Feehan

Montoya sets school record as all-time winningest goalie

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Shrewsbury girls hockey advances to Elite 8 after gutsy win over Bishop Feehan
Shrewsbury players embrace after scoring the game’s first goal. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

WESTBOROUGH – Playoff wins are always special, but this one likely stands out for Marisa “Risa” Montoya.

As teammates spilled onto the ice after another convincing Shrewsbury playoff victory, they gathered around Montoya to celebrate. Montoya, the Colonials’ goalie and senior captain, had just etched her name in Shrewsbury history as the program’s all-time winningest goalie. The four-year starter – who began her career with a COVID-shortened season – earned win number 57 on Saturday night, eclipsing the mark set by Riley MacCausland.

“Being a Colonial has been a really fun experience, playing with these girls and seeing them every day all winter has been incredible. Some of them I didn’t know before this and they’re my best friends now, and I talk to them every day. Some of them I talk to every day outside of the season. It’s just been really fun. It’s a huge accomplishment for me, and I’m really excited,” Montoya told the Community Advocate after the game.

Shrewsbury girls hockey advances to Elite 8 after gutsy win over Bishop Feehan
Shrewsbury’s Marisa “Risa” Montoya guards the net. Montoya became Shrewsbury’s all-time winningest goalie. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

And even better for Montoya, she’ll have the opportunity to earn win number 58, and – if she’s lucky – 59 and 60. The seventh-seeded Shrewsbury Colonials continued their bid for back-to-back championships on Saturday at NorthStar Ice Sports, defeating the tenth-seeded Bishop Feehan Shamrocks, 4-1, to advance to the MIAA Division 1 Elite 8. The match was scrappy, but it was controlled by Shrewsbury the whole way.

“When you get to the last 16 teams in the state it gets tougher every game. We knew this was going to be a battle – [Bishop Feehan is a] big, physical team. We watched a lot of film on them, and I thought we matched up pretty well against them… We executed our game plan… we kept the puck in the zone… Everything we did, we did right. We played hockey in all three zones very well tonight,” Shrewsbury Head Coach Frank Panarelli said.

After 10 minutes of scorelessness in the first period, Shrewsbury’s Lauren Albertson – assisted by Bridget McLaughlin – scored to give Shrewsbury an early lead. While the Colonials trailed well into the third period in their opening-round matchup, they led early and never looked back in this contest.

“Getting out to an early lead really propels the team. It gets us excited. It’s very important to be up early so we can build off that,” Albertson said.

“It’s huge. Critical. You’re down to this many teams in the state and you score that first goal – being at home, having the crowd there – it’s a big thing. Getting that first goal was huge,” Panarelli added.

Shrewsbury girls hockey advances to Elite 8 after gutsy win over Bishop Feehan
Shrewsbury’s Mia Ryder handles the puck as two defenders give chase. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Bishop Feehan was in penalty trouble throughout the game, committing 10 total offenses by the game’s end. The Colonials weathered the Shamrocks’ physicality and took advantage of power-play opportunities. Just 11 seconds into the second period, Mia Ryder – assisted by Blaire Fay – took advantage of the power play and doubled Shrewsbury’s lead. The Colonials’ defense remained firm, allowing one shot in the second period.

Shrewsbury added another early-period score at the start of the third. Albertson grabbed her second goal of the night just 24 seconds into the action, capitalizing on another power-play opportunity. Albertson was once again assisted by McLaughlin.

“She’s only a sophomore. And she’s a goal-scorer. Lauren’s a goal-scorer. You can’t teach scoring goals. She’s got a knack for the net. Goal-scorers have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and that’s what happened,” said Panarelli.

Shrewsbury girls hockey advances to Elite 8 after gutsy win over Bishop Feehan
The puck goes airborne as Shrewsbury’s Paige Umile tries to tap it in. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

In desperation mode, the Shamrocks scored in the game’s final minutes to cut Shrewsbury’s lead to 3-1. Shrewsbury’s Kealy Fay matched the score less than 60 seconds later, giving the Colonials another three-goal lead and adding an exclamation point to an already-convincing win. Throughout the game, the Colonials outshot Bishop Feehan 23-7, turning in a dominant defensive performance.

“We knew it would be a really good game. We were watching this team a little bit, and we knew they were going to be good. I think the mindset coming in was just to play calm, play collected, and have confidence in ourselves. We’re ranked seventh for a reason – we play good hockey,” said Montoya.

The win over Bishop Feehan sets Shrewsbury on a collision course with No. 2 Saint Mary’s (Lynn) in the Elite 8. Last year, the Colonials defeated St. Mary’s, 4-1, at TD Garden to win the 2023 MIAA Division 1 championship. It will take another championship-level effort to defeat the Eastern Massachusetts powerhouse, but Shrewsbury will be ready and motivated.

“We played them twice before in the playoffs and we lost to them both times, then we finally played in TD Garden last year and we beat them. A matchup like that, it’s like I told the girls: every game you play, every team gets stronger and stronger… We are still one of the strongest teams in the state, no matter where they rank us. We’ll go out there and play hard,” Panarelli said.

“We’re a really good team and I’m proud of everything we’ve done this season. Playing St. Mary’s going forward – I’m super excited. We had a really great game against them last year, and I think it will bring out the best in us once we get to play them,” added Montoya.

The rematch will happen on Thursday at a location and time yet to be determined.

Shrewsbury girls hockey advances to Elite 8 after gutsy win over Bishop Feehan
Shrewsbury’s Bridget McLaughlin brings the puck into the offensive zone. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

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