Girls Prep Hockey – Vaillancourt Conference Preview: New League Promises Solid Competition

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
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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The Vaillancourt Conference is the newest league in Girls Prep School hockey. The league, named after former Pomfret great Sarah Vaillancourt, will be comprised of six teams – Austin Prep, Kents Hill, Northfield, Pomfret, North Yarmouth Academy and Worcester Academy.

AUSTIN PREP (17-7-3)

It was quite a NEPSAC debut for the Cougars last winter, winning 17 games and qualifying for the Large School post-season tournament. This year’s club will have a new coach in Kerry Brennan, who says “to have continued success in our second year in the NEPSAC, we will need our defense to be rock-solid and our offense to be relentless on the forecheck.

Senior Madison Vittands will certainly be an offensive catalyst; she is a Merrimack commit. Junior Faith Steiner is another key forward back in the fold. Two newcomes to watch up front are junior Lexe Mackinnon (Burlington HS) and freshman Adia Murphy (Dedham HS).

On defense, senior Brooke Brennan (Merrimack lacrosse commit) and juniors Bree Anderson and Riley Loveland bring a lot of experience.

In goal, senior Gianna McCusker will be a factor in any success the Cougars have.

KENTS HILL (0-19-2)

With a lot more depth, the Huskies are primed to show some marked improvement.

Leading the forward charge for coach Jasmine Webber are juniors Kaylyn Bourque and Amelia Quesnel, and sophomores Hailey Clark and Rowan Wood, all returners. Newcomers ready to contribute include senior Caragh Beasley, juniors Remy LeBel, Evanny Lachaine, Kathryn Greene and Emily Roy, and freshmen Maddysen Place and Hailey Tibbetts.

Senior Abi Graham, an Endicott commit, keys things defensively for the Huskies. Junior Avery Ross is also back. New defensemen are junior Grace Orr, junior Kayla Clapp, junior Melina Bandouveres, and freshmen Caroline Netten and Zoey Verrill.

Senior Sarah Maude Richard is back in goal, joined by juniors Emma Morrison and Eline Gillodes.

NORTHFIELD MT. HERMON (6-17-1)

Helen Zeaske Northfield

This team will have a host of new faces, and a new head coach in Scott McComas.

Key holdovers from last winter’s club include defensemen Lily Goldsmith (senior) and Celia Goldsmith (sophomore), Sara Carrion, and junior netminder Helen Zeaske.

NORTH YARMOUTH ACADEMY (15-8-3)

The Panthers are coming off one of the best seasons in school history and hope to continue to build off that.

Coach Matt Poulin has plenty of options up front to turn to, including returning seniors Sarah Moore, Lily Rawnsley and Kailyn McIntyre, and juniors Lyla Casey and Catie Lee. A new freshman – Natasha Godfrey – should contribute right away.

Sophomore Jordan Nash and freshman Caroline Matusovich should be keys on defense. Worcester Academy transfer Bailey St. Hillaire, a senior, will be a big help.

There also is depth at the goaltender position, as new sophomore Eva-Marie Leclerc joins incumbent seniors Brooklyn Goodman and Elizabeth Madden.

POMFRET (4-19-2)

The Griffins have brought in a new coaching staff, led by new head coach David Peltz.

“We have skill and talent no question about it, but we will need time to adjust, acclimate and find chemistry, synergy and to buy into the process,” Peltz said.

Key returning forwards see seniors Anna Weaver and Chloe Orlich, junior Layla Miller and sophomore Maeve Molloy. Tilton School transfer Taylor Edwards will be a help.

Seniors Paige Anderson and Ivy Dowdle, and sophomore Keira O’Brien will handle things defensively.

Pomfret also has two experienced goaltenders in senior Avery Valente and junior Hannah McDermott.

WORCESTER ACADEMY (14-10-3)

Replacing eight impact players lost to graduation will be of utmost priority for the Hilltoppers. Veteran coach Kevin Zifcak reports he has a host of new players with lots of promise.

Up front, junior Mackenzie Hydon and sophomore Lauren Moran will be factors offensively. Post-grads Emma Holmes and Julia Holmes (Winthrop HS) will step right in. Both recently committed to Plattsburgh State. New junior Raquel Walecka (Ursuline Acad.), sophomore Georgia Macinni, and freshmen Olivia Cohen and Abby Tredo will chip in.

There is more experience on the blue line, where seniors Emma Abysalh and Kylie Beers, junior Lexye Payne and sophomore Onna McCarty all return. Junior Hayley McNeal and freshman Annie Rhodes should have an immediate impact defensively.

Goaltending projects to be a strength with returners Bella LaRoche (junior) and Arie Erlich (sophomore), and new freshman Natalie Spaeth.

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