By Jim Severance
The girls high school hockey season got underway last week with all area schools in action. The Northfield Marauders got off to a blazing start outscoring opponents 11-0 while posting two victories. Forward Claudia Gee had an opening week to remember scoring six goals, including two shorthanded goals against Metro Division rival Middlebury. The Spaulding Crimson Tide got off to a good start winning the Dr. Butsch Tourney topping North Country 4-2. The U-32 Raiders went 1-1 during the opening week with a win over Harwood. The Stowe Raiders and Harwood Highlanders are still looking for their first wins of the season.
SPAULDING (Metro Division)
LAST YEAR: 14-6-2 (Lost to BFA in semifinals)
COACH: Brad Bessette
2014 RECORD: 2-0
After playing last year with only 12 players, the Crimson Tide should have more options with 17 girls this season. All but four players return from last season, including four experienced seniors who will provide leadership for the younger players coming in.
The biggest loss was All-State defenseman Caitlyn Wilkin who transferred to prep school in New Hampshire for her junior year Wilkin’s departure is a big blow, but the Crimson Tide returns two experienced defensemen, Jordan Binaghi and Elizah French. Freshman defender Alison Ahearn will be expected to step in and contribute immediately. All the top scorers are back, with senior Julia Ormsby ready to lead the way. Ormsby, who possesses speed, stick handling and the ability to finish is one player the opposition will be looking to stop. She led the Metro Division with 35 goals last season. Sophomore Jessica Scott, another skilled forward, gives the Tide another strong scoring option. Other forwards expected to contribute include senior Kassandra Perantoni, junior Talia Gariboldi, and freshman Lauryn Bedard. You’ll see other members of the large freshman class skating, giving the Crimson Tide much more depth than last year. The Crimson Tide will have experience in the goal with senior Morgan Gosselin, a starter since her freshman season, and freshman Maddy Pletzer. Two experienced goaltenders is something Spaulding hasn’t had for a number of years.
NORTHFIELD (Metro Division)
LAST YEAR 16-4-2 (Lost to Burr & Burton in semifinals)
COACH: Chris Amell
2014 RECORD: 2-0
After coming to within a goal of making the Lake Division Championship in the last two seasons, the Marauders take the big leap up to the Metro Division. To compete against the bigger schools like Essex, BFA, and Middlebury you need talent and depth, and coach Chris Amell says now is the time to move up.
“Looking at the numbers and talent coming into our program over the next few years I thought it was the right time to take on the Metro,” he said. “The youth programs at both the U-12 and U-14 levels have talent and numbers. We should be able to compete in the Metro Division for sometime.”
They’ll have some rebuilding to do with seven seniors gone including Hillary Amell and DJ Doney, who both represented Vermont in the Make-A-Wish game this summer, and goalie Markie Delude. A number of freshmen are among the 18 players on the roster that also includes players from Williamstown and Lyndon. The Marauders return one of the top players in the state, forward Kristen Dukette. Already the all-time scoring leader at Northfield, she put up 38 goals and 26 assists last year. A pure, natural goal scorer with a quick hard shot, Dukette doesn’t hesitate to help out in the defensive end. If opponents spend too much time watching her, Claudia Gee and Lindsey Bergeron can find the net. Both players put up 25-point seasons last year. Two freshmen forwards Catherine Miles and Bridget Doney will see action on the first two lines. Sophomore Courtney Amell leads the defensive corps. Amell has good speed and will rush the puck when there’s open ice. Krystal Parent is a returning blue liner who will be counted on to log plenty of ice time. A couple of freshmen, Brianna Doty and Julia Passalacqua, will fill the other defensive slots. The goaltending slot will belong to sophomore Analiese Morvan. She doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience but appeared in a few games last year.
HARWOOD (Lake Division)
LAST YEAR 3-14-4 (Lost to Missisquoi in Playdown)
COACH: Mike Vasseur
2014 RECORD: 0-2
The Highlanders move back down to the Lake Division after a tough season in the Metro Division last year. With a roster short on experienced youth players, the Lake Division is a much better fit.
The team lost three impact players from their championship season of 2013 to graduation: Kaitlyn Martin, Taylor Yandow and star goalie Siena Damon. However, the Highlanders return some experienced forwards including Kaylee Ferris, Celia Lawton and Isabel Moffroid and defense gets a boost with the return of Danielle Kuiper, who missed all of last season recovering from a soccer injury. Kuiper set up Harwood’s championship goal in overtime two years ago. Senior Allison Pierce is another returning defenseman. In goal, sophomore Alison Yandow takes over for four-year starter Siena Damon.
U-32 (Lake Division)
LAST YEAR 4-16-1 (Lost to Middlebury in quarterfinals)
COACH: Jeff Wuorinen
2014 RECORD: 1-1
Wins have been tough to come by for the Raiders over the last two years. The number of experienced girls coming into the combined Montpelier/U-32 co-op team have dropped off considerably. Toss in a couple of talented players in the school district that left for prep programs and things are much different from just a few years ago when they won back to back state championships.
The Raiders will look to the junior class to lead the way this year. Look for Natalie Lavigne, Megan Ryan, Logan Blake, Dillon Rafferty, and Madi Woodard, who comes over from Harwood to contribute to the offense. Freshman forward Cricket Basa should also add to the attack. Neil Peterson, the top returning scorer, leads the defensive corps and will see action on the power play and shorthanded situations. Peterson has been one of the team leaders since her freshman season. Seniors Jade Blais and Alex Forrest will see plenty of action on the blue line. Junior Chloe Sairs becomes the full time goalie; she improved last season as the backup for graduated netminder Cheyenne Smith.
STOWE (Lake Division)
LAST YEAR 11-11-0 (Lost to Middlebury in semifinals)
COACH: Luke Shea & Karl Lipsky
2014 RECORD 0-1
The Raiders return all but two players from last season’s squad, but both of those players will be tough to replace. Danielle Mayo closed out a brilliant four year career as one of the best and busiest goaltenders in girls hockey. Mayo not only kept the Raiders in games where they were outshot by a wide margin, but stole a number of games. Strong skating defenseman Katie Stames has also graduated.
The Raiders return a squad that picked up valuable experience last season. Look for junior Ricki Haab to lead the way for Stowe. Haab, a strong skating defenseman with good size scored 12 goals last season. Haab won’t hesitate to seize the opportunity to rush the puck and get involved in the offense. Sophomore Evelyn Leikert gained plenty of ice time last year and is another experienced player on the blue line who has looked good in practice. Top returning players include seniors Kelli Grimes, Katie Feeney, and Izabell Weiss. Freshman forward Callie Walker comes in with plenty of skill and should contribute to the offense immediately. The coaching staff has not decided on the Raiders starting goalie. A number of girls are getting looks during the final week of practice.
Jim Severance is the voice of high school hockey on WSNO 1450AM in Barre. firstname.lastname@example.org