Girls Independents Preview: Cushing Ready To Make A Move; Williston Strong Again

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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Here’s a look at Girls Prep 2019-2020 Independent programs..

BERKSHIRE (5-16-1)

Home Rink: Jackman L. Stewart Athletic Center

Rylie Griffith

With a valuable year of experience under their belts, couple with an eager crew of new recruits in the fold, the Bears are focusing on some nice improvement this year.

Annie Hauser

Senior Catherine Appleyard, last year’s leading scorer, is back to again power the attack. She will get help from juniors Emily Bouvier and Caroline Mezias and sophomore Ashlyn Ham. Youngsters ready to contribute are sophomore Sydney Allen, and freshmen Kylie MacDonald and Liz Della Penna.

Coach Lisa Marshall will look to senior Rylie Griffith and junior Emma Birmingham to be cornerstone defensemen. Sophomore Liv Angioletti and freshman Margaret Culkins will battle for blue line minutes.

Senior Annie Hauser and sophomore Abby Hornung return between the pipes, joined by new freshman MK Braun.

Sam Taber
Shea Frost
Lily Brazis
Mia Langlois
Sarah Potter

CUSHING (11-17-1)

Home Rink: Iorio Arena

The Penguins continued to improve last winter, and with a stable of young talent in the fold, this squad has the potential to be even better this year.

There is some scoring prowess up front with the likes of junior Shea Verrier (21 pts) and sophomores Mia Langlois (25 pts) and Lily Brazis (24 pts), both Northeastern commits. Joining the ranks are freshmen Sam Taber (Boston College commit), the MVP at HNIB’s Girls Showcase this past summer, and Michaela Littlewood (Merrimack commit).

The defensive unit will be deep for coach Val Bono, with the returning trio of junior Zoe Wilcox and freshmen Shea Frost (Boston College commit) and Ava Doyle to be supplemented with the arrival of new sophomore Kailey Smith and freshmen Rylie Jones and Lily Corso.

Senior Sarah Potter (Holy Cross field hockey commit) gives Cushing some solid experience between the pipes.

Cailin Flynn
Dexter Southfield


Home Rink: Dexter Southfield

This club looks to be competitive with a score-first and team-first mentality.

Amelia Lynch
Dexter Southfield

A young but talented forward group will be led by sophomores Kara Goulding and Maddie Doyle and freshman Kate Flynn. New freshman Amelia Lynch looks to contribute.

Sophomore Cailin Flynn, a Boston College commit, will anchor things defensively for coach Maggie Taverna. Junior Kylie McCarthy will have a key role. Hoping to crack the rotation will be newcomer Caroline Aufiero.

Senior Lily O’Neil is a returning goalie. A new goalie in the mix is Ainsley Moulton.


Home Rink: Chelsea Piers CT

Experience gleaned from a playoff run a year ago will be huge for the Gators, who return the bulk of their roster.

Offensively, seniors Grace Schulze, Eliza Bowman and Hamilton Doster, juniors Else Esmond and Grace English, and sophomores Lindsay Hasapis and Taylor Gianville are back up front for coach Erin Brawley.

The Gators have a plethora of blueliners in the program with senior Sydney Pittignano, juniors Ada Shaffer and Kayla Ketchabaw, and sophomores Ava Butz, Cameron Brower, Lucy Burdett, Jordan Pittignano, Mia Garvey and Kate Boer.

Kaleigh Laurendeau

Sophomore Emily Greenhaw and freshmen Steph Ionescu and Lianna Seeley are in the goaltending rotation.

GUNNERY (5-15-2)

Home Rink: Linen Rink

Samantha Molind

Coach Jamie Goldsmith anticipates having much more depth this season, which will certainly come in handy in the stretch drive.

Holdover forwards from a year ago are seniors Sofia Pantillo and Corinne Bolding (a Trinity College commit) and sophomore Katie Porrello. New forwards ready to chip in are juniors Kiley Mastel (Brown commit) and Samantha Molind and freshman Ella Procyk.

Kiley Mastel

On defense, the Highlanders will look for solid games from seniors Savannah Popick (St. Anselm commit) and Grace Ginest, and sophomore Leah Coley. New junior Sammy Lassman looks for serious time.

With the graduation of Kate Broccoli (now at Providence) in the nets, the goaltending duties fall on returning junior Kaleigh Laurendeau and new freshman Morgan Dall.

Ainsley King

HEBRON (4-18-2)

The Lumberjacks are under new management this winter, as Ashley Paulson has taken over the head-coaching duties.

Among the returning players ready to lead the way are junior forward Paige Bourgoin, sophomore forward Julia Gregory, senior goalie Ainsley King and senior defenseman Thekla Jubinville.

Julia Gregory

Key newcomers looking to contribute right away are post-grad Brigh Cote, junior Samantha Blair, sophomore Sahara McKay and freshman Sammie Balfour.

HOOSAC (1-26-0)

Home Rink: Conway Ice Arena

New to NEPSAC this season, the Owls are now in their fourth season as a program.

Forwards back for coach Bill Ward include seniors Emma McGuane, Jordan Salzano and Terry Siolas, and juniors Mya Luna and Caitlin Welsh. Two new sophomores to watch are Erika Parent and Abygail Martel.

Four blueliners return in post-grad Ireland Ward, senior Kinga Horvathova, and sophomores Maria Pais and Evelyn Pryadkin. New junior Viktoriya Snitko (from Russia) and sophomore Evelyn Pryadkin add some nice depth.

New senior Ema Posingerova (from Slovakia) looks to get the starting nod in goal for the Owls.

Ashley Cowley
Kents Hill

KENTS HILL (12-12-3)

Home Rink: Bonnefond Arena at the Alfond Athletics Center

The Huskies look to build on last year’s performance, which saw them bang out a .500 record.

They do return their top two scorers in junior Jillian Jackson (24 pts) and junior Michelle Bourgeois (14 pts). Another key returner for coach Kim Nanof is senior Karina Laxton. A pair of new forwards ready to dent the scoresheet are junior Madison Sheffield and sophomore Naomi Balon.

Seniors Ashley Cowley and Anya Laxton will be cornerstones of the Kents Hill defense. New junior Laurie Anne Hebert and sophomore Lauren McCallig will be in the mix.

Senior Erin Butler is a returning starter in the Kents Hill net.

Abby Ainley

MILLBROOK (10-14-0)

Home Rink: Bontecou Rink

The Mustangs have a strong base returning, which, coupled with a group of new talent, could propel them to bigger and better things.

Thomasina Nash

Senior Nicole Bessinger and juniors Thomasina Nash and Brysha Schmidt are three key holdovers on offense for coach Erica Shapey. New junior Jeannie Wallner and sophomore Abby Ainley will have roles.

On defense, senior Elise Almgren will be an anchor. New junior Lexie Strykowski will be a big help. Senior Catherine Champagne is a returning group.

Emma Chaffee


Home Rink: McCollum Arena

Improvement should be in the cards for the Hoggers, who return a big group from last winter’s club.

Senior Ally Nolan (Chatham University commit) will be a key forward for coach Jessica Tabb Wood, who also welcomes back seniors Celia Begonia and Sage Valente and junior Susana Langan to the forward ranks. A talented group of newcomers includes sophomore Emily Scola and freshmen Abigail Mellen, Sydney Miles and Mackenzie Graham.

Defensively, senior Bente Bechtold, juniors Emma Chaffee, Sarah Hart  and sophomores Lauren Carpenter all return after a year of varsity experience gained last winter.

The Hoggers also return two varsity goaltenders in junior Ruby Powers and sophomore Breese Burlingame.


Home Rink: Travis Roy Arena

Optimism is in the air, as the Panthers are coming off one of the best seasons in program history and lost just one player to graduation. And, the roster still has just one senior.

Offensively, junior Natalie Farrell (18 goals) and sophomore Kylie McIntyre (18 goals) look to duplicate last year’s scoring output. Sophomores Kimi Hurer (9 goals) and Jazzy Huntsman (8 goals) are two more key offensive producers. New junior Lilly Weinrich, sophomore Carly Sanzo and freshman Michala Wallace will chip in as well.

The team’s lone senior – Caroline Gepfert – will anchor the defense with the sophomore trio of Maggie Holt, Courtney Swenson and Emma Sharp. New sophomore Eliza Chace provided depth.

Sophomore Lauren Powers projects to be solid in goal for coach Pavel Navrat.

Bridget Santos
Phillips Andover


The Big Blue reached the D1 semifinal round last season, and despite losing seven seniors, the team returns a solid core and added an impressive group. This will be a deep team.

Rachel Neyman
Phillips Andover

Coach Martha Fenton’s club will score with the likes of seniors Lilly Feeney (Holy Cross commit) and Kylie Quinlan (Middlebury commit), junior Anna Bargman (Yale commit) and sophomores Indi Wagner and Gwyn Lapp, both Harvard commits. Also back are seniors Maddie Silviera and Carly Kreytak and juniors Molly MacQueen and Amelia Meyer. Post-grad Olivia O’Brien (Yale commit) will contribute immediately. Junior Abby Lamontagne and freshman Claire Colvin are two more newcomers to watch.

There is experience back on defense with seniors Olivia Noland and Linda Bibeau (Williams commit), junior Bridget Santos and sophomores Rachel Neyman and Lizzie Gilmartin. Post-grad Rose O’Connor (Harvard commit) will step right in. Freshmen Anne Averill and Olivia McManus look to contribute.

In goal, senior Sophia Merageas (Middlebury commit) is back for another season, as is junior Katie Wimmer.

Keegan Tierney
Phillips Exeter


Home Rink: Phillips Exeter Rink

Hope for the Big Red is to build off a strong 18-19 season. Coach Sally Komarek expects to have a good amount of depth this winter.

Senior captains Jenna Brooks, Abby Smith and junior captain Alyssa Xu will be tasked with leading this group on the offensive side of the ice.

Senior captain Keaghan Tierney will be a defensive anchor for Exeter.

Emma McLean

POMFRET (1-23-1)

Home Rink: Jahn Rink

The building blocks are there for the Griffins to continue to improve this season. Nine new skaters join the program, which returns the bulk of the last year’s roster.

Rielly Jessie-Gerelli

Up front, juniors Melissa Montesi and Shoshana Lebo, and sophomores Emma McLean, Sarah Rumley, Bridget Horst and Emma Aldenberg are back for another season. That group will be bolstered by newcomers Elizabeth Phalen (senior), Breanna Studley (sophomore) and Lily Brook, Grace Long, Bridget Fallon and Lexi Hendrickson (freshmen).

Coach Sam Slotnick’s defensive unit will be led by senior Grace Arsenault, junior Hannah Twombly and sophomore Marikate Marshall. Freshmen Riley Millard, Tara Valas and Dava Dudek will press for time.

Senior Rieley Jessie-Gerelli has loads of experience in goal for Pomfret. Sophomore Cate Gallagher is also back.

WILLISTON (22-2-1)

Home Rink: Lossone Arena

A perennial power in the prep ranks, be sure that opposing clubs are worried that the Wildcats return 15 players from last winter’s D1 semifinal team.

The forward group is talented. Senior Bryn Saarela (Holy Cross) and juniors Christina Vote (Wisconsin) and Kate McDermott (Princeton) are all Division 1 commits. Seniors Riley Roche, and Sydney Ewell and junior Emily Zambarano are three more key returners for coach Christa Talbot-Syfu.

On the blue line, senior Madison Cardaci, a Boston University recruit, will lead a group of six returning rearguards for the Wildcats.

And, both goalies are back in sophomore Natalie Stott and frehman Chloe Lewis.

Julia Holmes
Kaylen Taddia
Zoe Tow
Sophia Gregory
Leah White


Home Rink: Jason Ritchie ’05 Ice Arena

The Wapiti made some great strides last year and look to continue that momentum. They have added a host of new players to bolster the attack.

Key returning forwards for coach Laura DiCarlo are senior Alex Johnson, junior Lizzie Emerson and sophomores Zoe Tow and Kaylen Taddia. New forwards looking to have an impact are post-grad Jen Rickard, juniors Anna McCluskey and Maude St. Louis, sophomore Natsumi Matsudaira (from Japan),  and freshmen Maria Pierce and Julia Brennan.

Nazareth commit Julia Holmes and sophomore Olivia Benoit will lead the Winchendon defense. New junior Sophia Gregory and freshmen Rhea Bullens and Mackenzie O’Leary should see time.

In goal, junior Hope Walinski, a Providence commit, is back on the roster after an impressive sophomore campaign. Expect post-grad Leah White to see some serious minutes in the cage.

Ciara Wall
Worcester Acad.
Lauren Potvin
Worcester Acad.
Ciara Dauer
Worcester Acad.
Mary Honan
Worcester Acad.
Shannon Burke
Worcester Academy


Home Rink: Worcester Ice Center

More consistent offensive production will be a goal for the Hilltoppers, who have no less than 17 alums playing college hockey this season.

There will be plenty of depth up front for coach Kevin Zifcak, led by senior Ciara Wall (54 pts – a UNH commit). Also back are seniors Melissa Macri (28 pts), Grace Bruno (26 pts – St. Anselm commit), Meg Buxton (29 pts) and Jenna Krikorian, and junior Lauren Potvin.

A trio of  skaters – Shannon Burke (21 pts), Ciara Dauer and Annalise Monopoli, all juniors – will handle the bulk of the defensive duties.

Junior Mary Honan (2.37 gaa) will be joined by post-grad Kelsey Czerniawski to handle the goaltending duties.

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