RANDOLPH — For sisters Erin and Kiera Dwyer
, there is a part of the game that stands head and shoulders above the rest when they take the ice for the Archbishop Williams girls’ hockey team: penalty killing.
But sitting in a locker ream at Zapustas Arena in Randolph last weak, suited up for one of their final practices as scholastic teammates, neither Erin, a senior captain, nor Kiera, a sophomore, could explain why, as forwards, they enjoy the kill so much.
“That’s my favorite part,’’ Kiera said, laughing while giving her older sister a glance, as if looking for guidance. “You’re not expected to do anything’’ offensively.
No matter what it is, one thing is certain: When the Dwyers — whom eighth-year Archies coach Mark McHale
calls the best penalty killers he’s ever had — are on the ice, junior netminder Ashley Dallaire
“It’s very comforting,’’ Dallaire said with a chuckle. “As a goalie you want to . . . trust your teammates, and I trust them very much.
“A little stress goes off when they’re on the ice. They’re very good together.’’
The two Weymouth teens have been so good, in fact, that they are the top two scorers for a Bishops team that compiled a 14-7 mark in the regular season, the best in the Braintree program’s history, earning an eight seed in the Division 2 state tournament.
At 5-foot-4, and centering the first line, Erin netted a team-high 25 goals with 19 assists, while the younger, but taller (5-6) Kiera had 13 goals and 21 assists skating the left wing.
Right wing Emma Crocker
— a freshman from Abington with a rocket slap shot — chipped in seven goals and seven helpers to complement the sisters.
McHale also speaks highly of junior assistant captain Katie Barry
(18 goals, 11 assists), also of Abington, and freshman defenseman Carolyn Drowne
, a Raynham resident. But when it comes to the Bishops, the elder Dwyer is the team’s unquestioned leader.
“She has been part of making this program grow the past three years,’’ he said of the team’s lone senior. “She came in here as a freshman and . . . right away she became an impact player.’’
Kiera similarly became an impact player her rookie campaign, finding the net 17 times during the 2011-12 season, a number topped only by Erin.
The sisters got their start together on a backyard rink, spending hour after hour working on stickhandling and playing keep-away. They played hockey in a town league before eventually joining the Charles River girls’ hockey program, usually playing in the same age division despite being separated by two years.
The Dwyers still play for the Charles River U19 team — they are headed to California for a national tournament in April — and come September, Erin will be off to Colchester, Vt., to play for Division 2 St. Michael’s.
For now, though, the Dwyers are still Bishops.
Both sisters give much credit for the successful regular season to Dallaire, a third-year starter who also plays for Charles River.
Dallaire only began skating in eighth grade, but has started every game since her freshman year, according to McHale, backstopping the team to the state tournament each of her first two years.
With a .936 save percentage and 1.71 goals-against average, the East Bridgewater resident has been sterling once again this year.
“We know she’s an important part of the team,’’ Erin said. “She’s really good, and we know we always have her in net.’’
The Bishops hosted ninth-seeded Marshfield in a first-round matchup Wednesday night.
Four other varsity girls’ teams in the area have the talent to make a deep tourney run:
DUXBURY (18-1-2): The two-time defending Division 2 state champs will be hard to unseat again. Expect senior captain Hannah Murphy
(27 goals, 20 assists) to continue to roll offensively while junior captain Rachel Myette
(.952 save percentage, 0.94 goals-against average) takes care of business at the other end.
CANTON (16-3-1): First-year coach Dennis Aldrich
has his crew taking a big step up after last year’s 14-8 campaign. If the Bulldogs make a run, seniors Meaghan McKenna
(28 goals, five assists) and Meghan Lennon
(10 goals, 18 assists) will lead the way.
NORWOOD (13-5-2): Sophomore Kacie Smith
(32 goals, 15 assists) and junior Emily Kelly
(28 goals, 18 assists) are among the top goal scorers in the state on an underclassmen-laden squad.
SCITUATE (10-5-4): The 10th-seeded Sailors played well enough for a preliminary-round bye, thanks in large part to a 6-1-3 run in the final month of the regular season. If Scituate makes a long run, senior forward Sam Coughlan
will probably play a big role.
Boys’ teams to watch in tourney
Five boys’ teams to keep an eye on in the state tourney:
DUXBURY (14-3-5): Senior goaltender Chris Johnson
is playing as well as ever, which is saying a lot for the owner of four shutouts. Senior forward James Marcello
and sophomore forward Luke Stevens
are difference makers at the other end.
MARSHFIELD (16-6): The Rams stumbled to the finish with a 2-2 record in their last quartet, but don’t discount their more than four goals per game, especially when it comes to senior Michael Carbone
and freshman JoJo Carbone
, brothers playing their final games together.
NORWOOD (13-5-2): With junior forward Jack Sheehan
(17 goals, 14 assists), senior forward Rourke Flynn
(12 goals, 14 assists), and senior goalie Jordan Davis
(.939 save percentage, 1.53 goals-against average), the Mustangs are as well rounded a team as any.
CANTON (15-3-2): Junior forward Brian Brooks’s 18 goals and 24 assists make him one of the top point-getters in Division 2 and the Bulldogs a threat in their bracket.
XAVERIAN (8-7-5): Don’t let the Hawks’ record deceive you. As members of the Catholic Conference — which sent four teams to the Super 8 — they had one of the toughest schedules around. Xaverian went 7-2-3 in nonconference games.