2022-23 Woodstock Academy girls ice hockey season preview
There was precious little time to get to know each other.
And now, the season is upon the Woodstock Academy girls ice hockey team.
The Centaurs open a 19-game schedule on Wednesday afternoon on the road at Amity High School in Woodbridge at 3:30 p.m.
That lack of time to get to know each other exacerbated by the fact that the team has six new players on it from schools down by the shoreline due to the new cooperative status that the program now enjoys.
“All the girls are really excited for this season, we just have to put in a lot of hard work,” said senior Keynila Hochard.
Hochard is one of only four seniors on the team and hails from Woodstock Academy.
She said the chemistry on the team has been coming along.
“I’ve been placed in a leadership role and I find it fun to meet new people, especially people who I can easily find things in common with like playing hockey,” Hochard said.
The nice thing for the Centaurs is that their new teammates all have a hockey pedigree.
“They have all had a great experience with the sport,” Woodstock Academy coach Eric Roy said. “I knew a couple of them from my days with the Northern Lights (club team) and they are talented. We don’t have a superstar but we have a team full of gritty, hard-working girls that know the game of hockey.”
Caitlyn Flynn hails from Norwich Tech; Sophia Gouveia from Wheeler High School in North Stonington; Juliette Hammer from Ledyard; Sky Patterson from the Marine Biology program at Fitch; and both Paige Hinckley and Mia Williamson from East Lyme.
Flynn is the only senior among the group, Williamson is a junior, both Gouveia and Hammer are sophomores and Patterson and Hinkley will be around for a while, Roy hopes, as both are freshmen.
“They are happy to play hockey,” Roy said of the distance some of his new players have to travel for practices and games. “They wanted to have a girls high school hockey experience so they’re happy. One of the parents said to me that they were either going to travel 45 minutes up to here or 45 minutes to a southern (Connecticut) school so he was happy to be able to latch on with our program.”
Roy has had very little time to work with his new group.
His first impression is that there will be a lot of close, hard-fought games.
“We’re not going to blow the roof off the building with a lot of goals but we’re going to hang in there and outwork some teams,” Roy said.
Hochard led the team with eight goals and three assists last season when the Centaurs finished 4-8-2 as a member of the Central Massachusetts League.
The Centaurs did lose Annabella Chaves (6 goals, 4 assists) and Sydney Haskins (3,4) to graduation and Olivia Crawford (2,5) is also no longer with the team making goal-scoring a premium.
“We just have to work hard on skill stuff. A lot of the team is defensive-oriented so we have to figure that out,” Hochard said.
He feels the defense, led by senior captain Bryn Miller, will be the backbone of the team.
“All of the new girls on the team, play defense. That will be our strength and we’re going to have to pull a couple of them up to the offense. Usually, it’s the other way around where you’re pulling teeth to get people to play defense. We’re full of defenders and with a new goalie in net, we need a strong defense,” Roy said.
The Centaurs also lost their goalie, Mia Dang, who was stellar in net to graduation.
Woodstock Academy senior Elizabeth Morgis takes over between the pipes.
“I think Elizabeth is ready,” Roy said. “She has that “first one in the building, last one out” mentality. That’s her. She’s always reaching out to me, ‘Coach, if there is extra ice (time), can I come?’ She works hard and I think she’s ready for this moment.”
Morgis did start a couple of games for the Centaurs last season when Dang was injured.
Morgis is also a multi-sport athlete at Woodstock Academy.
She just received a coach’s award for her participation in girls cross-country and is also a very good softball player.
Roy said he is counting on offense from Hochard and freshman Maci Corradi who finished with two goals and four assists last season as an eighth-grader for the Centaurs.
“Next to (Annabella), they were two and three on our offensive charts and now they will have to step up to one and two. They have the skill and drive to do it so, hopefully, they put the puck in the back of the net and take the other girls with them,” Roy said.
Caroline Harris and Allison Griswold are the Centaur juniors while Ella Carney, Riley Faber, Grace Lescault, Avery Nielson, and Ellary Sampson are all freshmen who will skate for the program which does not have a junior varsity team.
Roy said the fact that they will have only three or four practices and, possibly, a jamboree under their belt prior to the first game of the season is OK with him.
“I like it because we’re just throwing them right into the fire and see what we have and we will make the tweaks along the way,” Roy said.
Roy said he would like to see his team sneak into the Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association state tournament.
It would have to finish in the top 14 of the 22-teams in the state to accomplish that.
“I think we could do it in the back of my mind. I don’t think we will be in the top tier of the tournament but I think we will put our name out there and people will know we’re here to play,” Roy said.
Hochard is looking forward to it.
“I like the co-op and (being a part of the CHSGHA) because now we can qualify for States and move forward instead of being in the Massachusetts league and just playing games to play games. Now, we can actually get somewhere,” Hochard said.