The long-awaited 2021 Connecticut Girls high school hockey season is set to kick off on February 8th. Teams have been able to be on the ice since January 19th. Once again there will be three leagues: the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC), the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC) and the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC). A total of 20 teams will participate this winter. Here is a look at them:
Central Connecticut Conference
The Nighhawks fully expect to be right in the mix in the conference this season.
The team is led by senior captain Rebecca Eaton and junior captain Shelby Little (22 pts), who anchor the defense for coach Mike Carrera. Sophomore Sophia Nower is another blue liners who likes to get involved offensively.
Sophomores Nicole Partridge (24 pts) and Emily Moskal (10 pts) are keys up front. A trio of freshmen ready to step right in at the varsity level are Maddie DeSouza, Nina Holm and Molly Regan.
In goal, senior Logan Leda (2.67 gaa) is back after playing half of the games last winter and will be a steadying influence between the pipes.
EAST CATHOLIC/GLASTONBURY/SOUTH WINDSOR
A second straight year of a large infusion of promising underclassmen has the Storm optimistic about the upcoming year.
The core nucleus of returning forwards includes junior Meghan Croyle, coming off a solid 28-point season, along with senior Rebecca Chernovetz, junior Katie Fradin and sophomore Jessica Pollack. The team welcome four freshman forwards in Alexis Pacheco, Mallory Pierz, Audrey Molin and Alexa Wolf.
On the blue line, junior Mary McKiernan (28 pts) is considered one of the state’s premier rearguards. She is joined on the back line by juniors Anna Pasterick and Olivia Lonski and sophomore Norah McCauliffe. Freshman Maddie Archambault adds to the depth.
Coach Frank Usseglio has the luxury of two varsity-tested goaltenders in junior Maren Riley and sophomore Kelsey Kowal.
New head coaches Scott Kossbiel and Mikayla Castro will focus on growing the program and having the players get better every day in year one.
Key players the new coaching staff will rely on are senior forward Kaylie Zemke and junior forward Riley Esposito.
The Trojans will once again be amongst the conference’s top clubs. Being aggressive on the forecheck will help create scoring opportunities for what should be a talented crop of forwards.
That group will be paced by junior Nicole Loftus and junior Mackenzie Chapman. New freshman Isabel Pringle will have a role.
On defense, coach Dave Olechna will look to junior Molly Walsh to be a cornerstone in front of senior goalie Victoria Lacroix, who has committed to Plymouth State.
With the bulk of last year’s team back in the fold, the WarChiefs anticipate having some good team chemistry.
An offense will be built around returners Rosie McGowan (senior), Bailey Manning-Ingala (senior), Bridget McGann (junior) and Sam Haubrich (junior).
On defense, coach Bretty Soucy will look to senior Maddie Levesque and junior Ana Haubrich to be cornerstones. Sophomore Sophia Levesque is back between the pipes.
Freshmen providing depth include forwards Maddy Sweeney and Molly McHugh, and defensemen Emily O’Keefe, Varya Atsian, Emma Marcella and Grace Ganey.
New head coach Mike Downs says his team will rely on underclassmen to steer the offense, while relying on upperclassmen to handle matters in the defensive. zone. Hopefully, that will be a recipe for success.
Senior Emily Bava and junior Kylie Downs do return in the forward ranks, where as many as five freshmen could play regularly. Sophomore Natalie Ewald will be a key performer, and freshman Brianna Morden is a player to watch. Senior Beth Tangarone is in the mix.
A strong defensive core has senior Sydney Eitel, juniors Tilly Wierdsma and Sophia Blais, and freshman Rosie LaRochelle. Sophomores Hailey Gomez and Teagan Mabrysmith will handle the goaltending duties.
Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference
New head coach Frank Oakes reports he has several new players that are developing great chemistry with the returning players, including a host of freshmen that will help shore up key positions.
Up front, the Tigers will lean on returning seniors Kate Zangre and Emily Stefanelli. A key senior on the blue line is Ali Caiola.
A bit smaller in numbers this year, Fairfield should see some success if it can play three full periods of strong hockey each and every time out.
Senior Sophia Mughal and sophomore Sarah Dolynchuk will be keys at forward for coach Michelle Marella. Two new freshmen to keep an eye on are Maya Lileika and Maeve O’Donnell.
Senior Caroline Coccaro will anchor the defensive unit. Senior Sidney Falterer is back between the pipes.
Armed with an impressive core of upperclassmen, the Blue Wave will again be amongst the heavies in Connecticut Girls HS hockey.
Four senior captains – Nelle Kniffin, Kelly Raymond, Luci Edwards and Kate Bellissimo – will be tasked with leading coach Jamie Tropsa’s offense, which also includes returning senior Olivia Toscano, sophomores Chelsea Donovan and Gretchen Edwards, and new freshman Maggie Bellissimo.
On defense, juniors Ceci Stein and Caroline Clark, and sophomore Morgan Massey will be keys.
Darien returns a pair of goaltenders as well in Claire Haupt and Ella Whitticom, both juniors.
Looking to compete hard in the FCIAC will be this co-op program, under the direction of 11th-year head coach Paula Dady.
Pacing the offensive attack are senior Marcie Silberger and junior Devon Cavaliere.
The team returns a solid trio of blueliners in Megan McCarthy, Kendall Conley and Maddy Silberger. New freshman Elsa Haakenson hopes to have an impact.
With no state championship last year due to the pandemic, the Rams are the last program to win one, having done so in 2018 and 2019. They will be in the mix again, featuring a lot of depth.
A talented forward group will be spearheaded by senior captain Courtney O’Connell (24 pts, 2nd team All-FCIAC), junior Kaleigh Harden (43 pts – 2-time 1st team All-FCIAC and All-State), junior Maddie Kloud (25 pts – 2nd team All-FCIAC) and junior Jade Lowe (17 pts).
Senior captain McKenna Harden (1st team All-FCIAC) and sophomore Amanda Benson (18 pts) are key holdovers on the blue line for veteran coach Rich Bulan. And in goal, senior captain Blythe Novick is a three-time All-State and All-FCIAC selection.
Seven freshmen, forwards Margot Furman, Katherine Rayher, Nora Moley, Maeve Hibbert and Faith Hobbs, and defensemen Maisie Koo and Lexie Tully all hope to have an impact.
- Also competing in the FCIAC this winter are Greenwich, Wilton/Norwalk and Stamford/Westhill/Staples.
Southern Connecticut Conference
The defending SCC champs are excited to build on that success and make a strong run for another title. They do have some standout players returning.
Junior Madison Epke put up some big numbers a year ago (59 goals, 30 assists) and is back; she has committed to James Madison University for lacrosse. Sophomore Kimberly Evans had 25 goals a year ago. Expect freshman Sophia Cuozzo to step right in and contribute.
On defense, junior Olivia Gill (21 pts) gets involved offensively. Senior Christina Garofalo is another key blueliner. Freshman Ryleigh Gagnon provides even more depth.
Junior Julia McDonald is a returning goaltender for coach Rick Binkowski.
The Green Dragons will feature no less than 12 seniors this year, and that experience alone will be a big plus.
Up front, seniors Ella Miller and Sofia Murphy-Genao will be catalysts for coach Jessica Morgillo. New senior Ashleen Keating, who previously played at Branford, will be an added plus.
Defensive anchors project to be senior Colby Sullivan and junior Kolby Becker. In goal, senior Elle Cullihane should get the call.
In the last five seasons, the Blades have won two league titles and were runners-up in two other seasons. They fully expect to contend again this winter.
Coach John Peschell will rely on senior Olivea Kosh and junior Avery DePodesta to be offensive leaders. Senior Caroline Cadelina should be a force on defense.
Two newcomers to keep an eye on are Avi Ramos and Ginny Curello.
WEST HAVEN/SACRED HEART ACADEMY
The Sharks will again be right in the mix in the SCC with a solid nucleus of returning players.
Plenty of production returns in the forward ranks with senior Jenna Hunt (44 pts), senior Jianna Cohrs (33 pts) and senior Mia Celentano (23 pts) are back for coach Erin Blake. A pair of freshmen – Ashley Welch and Geene Montano – will bring added depth.
Senior Mackenzie Gardner (17 pts) and junior Meghan Dupre (8 pts) are leaders on the blue line. Two freshmen joining the defensive ranks are Julianna Montano and Taylor Alfano.
Two goalies return from last year’s outfit in junior Grace Nowak and senior Hailey Alfano.
Coach Andy Townsend expects the Panthers to be improved in all areas as they hope to better a one-win season from a year ago.
Scoring should come from sophomore Maya Komorowski (26 pts) and junior Carlone Raymons (10 pts). Three newcomers ready to have an impact are sophomores Amanda Quin and Grace King, and freshman Avery Dayton.
Junior Aynsley Lane and sophomore Rinei Hawke are a pair of returning defensemen and will be joined on the blue line by freshman Alexis D’Angelo. In the nets, junior Eva Smith started all but one game a year ago.
- Milford will also be competing in the SCC this season.