MORRISTOWN _ Devin Blanchard began her final high school ice hockey game feeling anxious and excited.
Those emotions lasted for the first period before Blanchard, assistant captain for Morristown-Beard, came to a realization.
"This is my last official game. It doesn't seem real," Blanchard said to herself.
Blanchard, a senior left wing, skated in a haze much of the time. With 1:10 remaining in the third period, after exchanging passes with Keegan Heher, she went behind the net, wrapped around and pushed the puck into the net, scoring the Crimson's eighth goal. The captain and only other senior, Maggie O'Connell, struck with 45 seconds left, knocking in her first career goal for Morristown-Beard, which defeated Summit 9-2 in its season finale on Thursday, Feb. 18.
"It meant a lot for me to score in this game," said Blanchard, the goalie for the field hockey team. "I've been with this team for four years. They're my family. Scoring toward the end was great."
O'Connell, a standout goaltender before being switched to defense, commenced a rare shift at forward with 1:10 remaining. She thought she'd miss the net because of "stickhandling a few too many times." Her shot, however, eluded the Summit goalie. Blanchard and Ally Detre had assists.
"I've scored for my club team so I know what it's like," O'Connell said. "It's kind of sad it's over. I still have my club games so... I'm not really an emotional person. Devin can cry for both of us."
"It'll hit her later," Blanchard promised.
Crimson coach Bruce Driver was pleased the two seniors made a memory.
"With two minutes left, I told them they weren't getting off the ice," Driver said. "Devin and Maggie started and finished. They scored in the last game they played together."
Blanchard, undecided on a college but likely to major in biomedical engineering, prided herself on being the "No. 1 substitute."
"I loved my role," she said. "Ice hockey is a team sport so the best players don't succeed without the rest of the team. I enjoyed being with this team."
O'Connell came to Morristown-Beard from DePaul. When she visited the campus, she shadowed Blanchard. O'Connell has been in goal since sixth grade but has played defense and attack for her club team.
Missing a defender for a game against the Hill School, Driver pulled O'Connell out to fill in.
"I was experimenting, trying to put together the best lineup," Driver said. "Maggie plays defense very well. She's been at forward sometimes, too."
The Crimson (16-6) received a hat trick from Heher in the win over Summit at Twin Oaks. In addition to Blanchard and O'Connell, Detre, Leslie Phillips, Jenna Pych and Emily Kitchin scored. Jenna Kurz and Sophia Gallant had three assists apiece.
Morristown-Beard, which returns to the ice on Friday, Feb. 19 for a game against their parents, did not claim a title this winter but increased its ranks greatly with the addition of nine freshmen. Only three starters - Heher, Detre and Ali Palazzetti - returned from the 2014-15 squad.
Blanchard and O'Connell considered the Feb. 13 game versus the Hill School (Pa.) the team's best. The Crimson previously fell to Hill, 4-1 and 6-1. In the third matchup, Morristown-Beard was edged, 2-1, in the WIHLMA semifinals.
"It was tied going into the third period," Driver said. "We had a chance. Hill is fast with a very good goalie. We played very, very well."
"We went farther than people thought we would," Blanchard said. "We lost a lot of seniors. I think people figured we'd crash and burn."
O'Connell considered it a good season even though the Crimson didn't know much going in.
"Many of our girls were new," O'Connell said. "We did well against a lot of high-end teams."
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