Bulldogs 10U team plays in exhibition at AHL arena

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A week before for the 10U Tier 4 State Championship game, the Northshire Hockey Association Squirts traveled to the MassMutual Center in Springfield to play a preliminary exhibition game against the Northern Berkshire Black Bears as part of the AHL Thunderbirds' Sunday Funday.

Fun was the theme of the day for a team whose hard work all season paid off in the first two rounds of the state tournament.

"This is a bye week for the state tournament, so when we were offered the opportunity. I thought it would be a great way to have fun and celebrate a great season," said head coach Kate Slade.

Thunderbird staff escorted the Bulldogs to their locker room, where they each found their name on a placard above their dressing stall, a novelty the Squirts haven't enjoyed before. As they prepared to take the ice, Slade's pregame talk emphasized teamwork along with having fun and enjoying the experience.

The entire rosters of both teams were announced before the playing of the National Anthem. Camryn Monforte recounted later that her favorite part of the game was, "skating up after they announced my name!"

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The Black Bears scored quickly, a minute into the game, and the Bulldogs answered immediately with a goal from forward Parker Buggee. Northern Berkshire added another goal later, and the Bulldogs trailed just 2-1 after the first, but the Black Bears pulled away with a three-goal second period.

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Going into the third period, the Bulldogs found themselves down 5-1. Goals from Nathan Swenor and Hunter Slade led the Bulldogs' rally but the Bears answered with two goals of their own for a final score of 7-3.

Although the game ended in a loss for the green and gold, Slade reminded her team what today's game was really about.

"Our goal today was to have fun, and to have a great experience. We did that and I'm so proud of you," she told the team.

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When asked about their favorite moments, it's clear the players heard her message and were not phased by the loss.

First year goalie Sully Sailer had several breakaway saves. He said his favorite moment was, "When I dove and made a stick save!" And Hunter Slade's favorite moment was "Scoring a goal and doing my celly!"

The day ended with an autograph session and family skate following the Thunderbird overtime win over the Syracuse Crunch.

The Squirts will play for the state championship in their division Saturday at Leddy Park against the Middlebury Tigers.


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