The BFA-St. Albans hockey team celebrates after winning the Div. I championship on Monday against Spaulding. (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)



BURLINGTON – The BFA-St. Albans girls hockey team completed its first undefeated season in program history when it came away with a win over Spaulding during Monday’s Division I championship game at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

The top-seeded Comets came away with a 3-2 victory over the No. 2 Crimson Tide for the program’s first title since 2018. After the game, coaches and players alike all used one word in common that described how the team was so successful this year.


“Everybody on this team contributed in one way or the other throughout the course of the season for us to get to this point and we all worked so well together,” said BFA senior captain Sophie Zemianek. “We couldn’t have done this without everyone single person’s effort, energy and hard work.”

BFA-St. Albans players celebrate after winning the Division I championship on Monday at Gutterson Fieldhouse (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

With the victory on Monday, the Comets have now hoisted the championship trophy 12 times in their program history.

The Comets finished out the seasons with a 22-0 record marking the first time they completed an undefeated season.

“This is an unreal feeling,” said BFA sophomore Bri Jarvis. “The energy was so high with the team and everyone wanted to win this so bad, and we all came together and got it done.”

It was the third time BFA and Spaulding met in the finals with the Comets improving to 3-0 in those games. They also won the championship in the 2010 and 2011 season against the Crimson Tide.

Monday’s game had plenty of excitement throughout with plenty of action on both sides of the ice. Spaulding got on the board first midway through the first period. Chelsea Bell took a shot that was saved, but Portia Berard was there to knock home the rebound for the 1-0 lead.

The lead was shortlived, as BFA scored just over a minute later. Jodie Gratton put a shot on net that was saved and after a scramble ensued, Bri Jarvis snapped the puck into the net to tie the game 1-1 (The goal was credited to Caroline Bliss, but video showed Jarvis taking the shot that got in and the team celebrated with Jarvis first through the line). The assist extended Gratton’s season total to 26, which is a new Comets record in a season which broke the record of 23 set by Emmy Handy during the 2000-01 season. She also finished the year with 49 points, which tied Kristine Dodd’s record from the 2000-01 season.

“Jodie is a phenomenal player and me, her and Caroline (Bliss) have just had a great connection all season long together,” said Jarvis. “We just have all worked so well together all season long and have gotten better and better as a line as the season has gone along.”

BFA tallied the first two goals of the second period. Early in the period, the Comets had a powerplay with the faceoff being won by Reese Clayton. The puck went back to Rachel Needleman who took a shot that was saved by Spaulding goalie Mattie Cetin (31 saves), but Rae Alexander was on the doorstep to knock in the puck for the 2-1 lead.

Later in the period, Grace Fraties kept the puck in the offensive zone for the Comets and Clayton skated to the slot and took a shot that was saved by Cetin, but flipped up in the air behind her. Annika Fersing was there to bat the puck out of midair to give the team a 3-1 lead in what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Rae Alexander (top video) scores a powerplay goal in the second period before Annika Fersing (bottom video) scores while hitting the puck out of midair for what ended up being the game-winning goal in Monday’s Division I championship game. (Anthony Labor)

Spaulding’s Ruby Harrington scored 20 seconds after Fersing’s goal to make it a 3-2 game going into the third period.

Both teams tallied eight shots on goal in the final period, but it was the goalies turn to shine as they both turned away them all. The Comets had to work to hold on to the one-goal lead, as they were called for a pair of penalties late in the game giving the Crimson Tide a 6-on-3 advantage with their goalie pulled.

BFA’s Makenna Montgomery (19 saves) made some key saves down the stretch to preserve the lead and hold on for the title.

“Makenna played well again for us tonight,” said BFA coach Luke Cioffi. “I thought she played solid, and did a nice job of keeping pucks to the outside.

“I thought Makenna and Erin Jackson made quite the duo overall throughout the course of the season, he added. “Between the two of them we are comfortable with either one and very fortunate to have had them this year and going forward.”

BFA-St. Albans’ Makenna Montgomery makes a toe-save late in the third period of Monday’s championship game. (Ben Kaufmann, County Courier)

Being down 6-on-3 with the game on the line in the final moments left the entire BFA crowd on the edge of their seats. After taking one penalty through the first two and a half periods, the Comets were called for three in the final eight minutes of the game.

They were called for penalties just over a minute apart with a little over two minutes to go in the game. The Crimson Tide did everything they could to cycle the puck around, but the Comets did a good job of keeping shots limited to coming from the outside and Montgomery made some big saves on the few shots that did get through to her in that final sequence.

“My mind was just empty and knew I had to do whatever it took to keep the puck out of the net,” said Montgomery. “The girls were amazing in front of me blocking shots, but it made it even better when the clock winded down. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Zemianek played a crucial role in killing off the late penalties, as she sacrificed her body on multiple occasions to block shots and clear the puck as she finished with a game-high four blocked shots.

“It was extremely nerve-wracking, but we knew we had to play the best two minutes of hockey of our lives during that stretch,” said Zemianek. “We just had to leave it all out on the ice and that’s what we did.”

Cioffi said that stretch of Zemianek blocking shots during the penalty kill epitomized what she has done throughout her four years on the team.

“That’s the kind of thing we have seen out of her for four years is laying it all on the line for her team,” he said. “It was a good way for her finish to finish out her career with the team.”

In the end, the clock struck zero and the Comets poured off the bench in celebration in a site that has become all too familiar for the BFA faithful over the last 22 years.

After the Comets were taken out in the quarterfinal round last year, the first time they didn’t make it to at least the semifinals in their history, the returning players used that memory as motivation.

The motivation worked capping off another championship season without taking a loss with a 22-game win streak, which is also the longest in program history topping their 18-game win streak that ranged from the 2002-03 season into the 2003-04 season.

“The fact that we had the season we did with no losses and winning an emotional game in the finals was a fantastic way to show a lot of progress,” said Cioffi. “We have a lot of talent, but there are a lot of obstacles throughout the course of a year that you don’t see on the ice. This group came together and we are pleased with how they came together.

“This team was resilient and it was a fun group to coach because we knew whatever group we put out there was going to give it their best,” he added. “Up and down the lineup we knew anyone could contribute on any given night.”

The sense of family throughout the program was a big contributor to the team being able to accomplish the undefeated season.

“I can’t even put this feeling into words,” said BFA junior Molly Smith. “This group of girls is the best, so it’s just amazing to accomplish this with this group.”