Mass. Girls HS Hockey – Central/West Preview: Pope Francis Returns Many; Algonquin Ready To Start D2 Title Defense

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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There are conflicting opinions on whether Central/West is an actual league this winter. Some feel this group may be Independents. Regardless, Pope Francis looks to continue its improvement, while Algonquin sets out to defend its title with a new head coach in Tina Beauchemin. Oakmont has joined with Leominster for a new co-op arrangment.


Coach: Chris Connors

Fourteen players return from last year’s club that reached the D1 Round of 16, where they gave Notre Dame all in could handle in a one-goal loss. Expect solid team defense and more balanced scoring this winter.

A deep forward group is sparked by senior Kellie Harrington (13 pts) and juniors Lily Hayes (18 pts) and Ela Rabidoux (15 pts). Junior Ivorie Arguin (12 pts), sophomore Cam Rogowski, senior Eleanor Jacoby, junior Nadiya Champigny and sophomore Giada Musa are all back. New freshman Brooke Nadle will vye for a role.

What should be a stout defense features senior Lila Roche, juniors Kaitlyn Ondrick and Grace Sands, and sophomore Sarah Tatro, along with new freshman Madison Dunaj.

Sophomore Felix Goeckel, who saw action in seven games a year ago, gets the nod between the pipes.

Hear what Pope Francis captains Lila Roche and Kellie Harrington, and coach Chris Connors, have to say about the upcoming season:

Rachel Simkiewicz Leominster


Coach: Nancy LeBlanc

This year’s roster is bolstered with players from Oakmont Regional, to form a co-op squad that should be more competitive.

Carrisima Heinis Leominster

Key holdovers up front are sophomore Carley Ehwa (9 goals), junior Alison Neiley and sophmore Alyssa Allen. A huge addition from Oakmont is Rachel Simkewicz.

Two seniors ready to take care of things in the defensive zone are Carissima Heinis and senior Amanda Allen. A veteran group also includes Oakmont seniors Kelly Paquet and Ashley Gorge.

In goal, look for eighth-grader Carina Eshbaugh to get some key minutes.

Emily Johns


Coach: Tina Beauchemin

The defending MIAA D2 champions turn the head coaching reigns over to five-year assistant Beauchemin, who feels the Titans will be competitive despite several key losses from last winter’s title club.

Kaitlin Mathews Algonquin

In junior assistant captains Emily Johns (26-12-38) and Bryn Domolky (16-17-33), the Titans will have two solid producers up front. Returners Linda Hu (junior), Annie Biagini (sophomore) and Betsy Bertonazzi (sophomore) should expect bigger offensive responsibilities.

Senior captain Olivia Bower (+32 a year ago), anchors the defense with sophomore Lauren O’Malley (+28 a year ago).

With Lana Pacific graduated, senior captain Kaitlin Mathews is ready to take on the full-time role in the nets for Algonquin/Hudson.

Jane O’Connor Longmeadow


Coach: Melissa Vandermyn

Communicating effectively will be a big key for the Lancers this winter. The team has strong leadership in its captains, and some talented freshmen that will slot in right away.

Avery Ireland Longmeadow

The offensive will be built around senior Jane O’Connor (15 pts), junior Avery Ireland (8 goals), senior Camryn Scanlon and sophomore Rylee Welch. A couple of freshmen ready to step in are Amelia Hanke and Abby Tredo.

Senior Maddy Murphy anchors coach Vandermyn’s defense. Looking for key roles are new sophomore Ava Saunders and freshmen Mia Laudato and Nine Semanie.

Senior Abbie Rafuse, last year’s backup, moves into the starting goaltender’s position.

** Auburn will also participate in the Central/West region

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