Hanging on the wall at the left end of Rink 1 at Norway Savings Bank Arena reads the name of Leavitt/Edward Little/Poland’s top goal scorer in program history. 

Taylor Landry, the Red Hornets’ lone member of the 100-goal club, has a banner all to herself, highlighting her offensive accomplishments throughout her high school career. 

The bad news for the Red Hornets is Landry now plays her hockey 115 miles to the northeast in Orono for the University of Maine, leaving a noticeable gap in the team’s offensive production. The good news? The Red Hornets don’t need more than a goal or two most nights as their defense is one of the best in the state.

“We always have a focus on defense,” Red Hornets coach Shon Collins said. “Obviously, the less goals the other teams scores the less you have to score. It certainly makes it easier to win games when you can stop teams from scoring goals. With that said it’s easier to play defense in their zone. We’ve tried to have an emphasis on offense and the girls being creative in the offensive zone.” 

The Red Hornets (10-2-1) have allowed 14 goals in 13 games this season, pitching four shutouts in the process and surrendering just one goal in five other contests. They haven’t given up more than three goals in a game all year. 

The Red Hornets’ defense is led by junior Danica Nadeau. She captains a defensive unit that features four sophomores — Kylie Bureau, Ally MacKenzie, Kaylee Younk and Angel Drouin — and a freshman — Samantha Martineau. Nadeau said she can see the growth from the sophomores with a year of high school experience under their belt.


“They’ve understood the game a lot better from freshman year,” Nadeau said. “They were really good freshman year, but the pace of the game in high school is a lot different then what they played, so they’ve really stepped it up and controlled the pace of the game a lot better.” 

The defense makes a living blocking shots in front of goaltenders Savannah Shaw and Tori Sanford. In the Red Hornets’ most recent contest against Lewiston, 16 shots got through to Shaw, but another dozen were knocked down by the defense. 

“It’s really nice as a goalie because since your defensemen are so good they block a lot of the shots,” Shaw said. “Half the time, there’s a shot from the point, my defensemen stop it so I don’t have to worry about it. A lot of times when there’s a one-on-one, I don’t even get a shot because the defensemen are so good they stop it before they can get a shot off.” 

Getting a shot on net against the Red Hornets is a challenge in itself, but getting the puck past Shaw and Sanford has proven even more difficult. According to Collins, last season both Shaw and Sanford sported sub-1.00 goals against averages with save percentages above .900. They’ve continued to split time this season, although Shaw has started the last five games. 

“Savannah’s definitely one of the players where if you asked every girl in our locker room who works the hardest in practice, Savannah’s name is going to be on everyone’s list of the top three players,” Collins said. “She comes in every day and you know you’re going to get 100 percent. Tori has worked hard for four years. She hasn’t gotten as many of the big games this season because Savannah’s stepped up, but she comes out and she puts the effort in and she’s a fighter.”

The Red Hornets’ defense has found ways to frustrate some of the more high-octane offenses this season, including both Lewiston and Greely. While they didn’t translate in wins, the Red Hornets limited the Blue Devils to one and three goals, respectively, in two games this season. Lewiston averages 5.6 goals per game.


“It starts with Danica,” Collins said. “In my mind she’s probably one of the top two defensemen in the state out of all the ones I’ve seen. When she’s playing solid she’s got the size, the shot, the hands and the vision to really move the puck, plus the skating and the stride. She’s got the whole package and she’s got the experience and the high hockey IQ that sets the tone for that group.”

The Red Hornets blanked Greely in their first meeting and held the Rangers to two goals on Saturday in a 2-2 draw. Greely averages seven goals per game and has scored 11 goals in a contest twice this season. In those games against the Rangers, the Red Hornets were outshot 55-25. 

“They save us a lot,” Nadeau said of Shaw and Sanford. “Savannah really came up big in the past games we’ve played, especially the Lewiston game. She’s kept a lot of games close and Tori has kept us in a lot of games as well. They’re a big reason why we have a good record this year.” 

Although their offense has been struggling to score goals — nine in their last seven games — the defense has provided a spark to the offense. Nadeau and Bureau lead the defense with four goals, while MacKenzie (3), Younk (1) and Drouin (1) have also factored into the scoring. Senior forward Emma Martineau leads the Red Hornets with nine goals. 

The Red Hornets’ defense has had to be sharp all year as they’ve played in eight games decided by two goals or less. They are 6-1-1 in those contests. Their goalies feed off that pressure.

“I love those kind of games,” Sanford said. “Those are the kind of games where you really get a chance to shine and show what you have. Those are the games where you see a lot come out of your defense and a lot come out of your whole team.” 

Said Shaw: “I just do everything I can to focus on the puck and focus on the shot so that I can do my job.” 

With five games left, the Red Hornets are in prime position to lock up the No. 2 seed in the East. While they will look to right the ship offensively over the final three weeks of the regular season, the Red Hornets know they have nothing to worry about in the defensive end. 

“You feel safe with our defense and you know they’re really strong,” Sanford said. “It’s a good feeling.” 

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