Here is a look at a handful of Vermont girls high school hockey programs.
BELLOWS FREE ACADEMY (4-2-2)
Coach: Luke Cioffi
The Comets have been a huge factor in the Division 1 race for several seasons and there is no reason to believe otherwise this winter. The coaching staff has been encouraged by the high tempo pace displayed in pre-season workouts.
Senior Sophie Zemianek who skated on defense last winter, moves up after a 10-point campaign. Junior Jodie Gratton and sophomore Caroline Bliss (4 goals) are two more key returners. New sophomore Bri Jarvis will add to the mix.
The defense will be built around juniors Molly Smith and Rowan Howrigan, and sophomore Rae Alexander.
In goal, sophomore Makenna Montgomery gets the chance for full-time duty. New freshman Erin Jackson is in the rotation.
Coach: Molly DiMasi/Jamie Rozzi
Strong on the blue line and in goal, the SeaLakers hope to build an offensive going that lost three key players to graduation.
Nevertheless, a group of five forwards return with experience in seniors Mershon Sky and Erin Boyd, junior Augusta Guyette, and sophomores Camryn Poulib and Molly Rublee. A freshman hoping to chip in is Annabelle Lekstutis.
Senior Paige Moody, junior Georgia Wool, and sophomores Norra Moody and Hanna Coughlin form the solid blue line unit. Freshman Fiona McHugh adds more depth.
Both junior Olivia Dallamura and sophomore Paige Codega-Ryan return between the pipes, joined at the position by incoming freshman Leah Boyd.
Coach: John Maddalena
The defending champions got hit hard by graduation and prep school on offense, so they will need to be more creative in that zone. Still, the Hornets will be in the conversation.
Production will be need by returners Nielsa Maddalena and Ella Gibbs, both seniors. Two freshmen ready to step right in and have an impact are Emma Airoldi and ZuZu Rooney.
On the blue line, senior Ashley Stempek holds down the fort. Freshman Emily Stempek is a key newcomer on defense.
Junior Emily Carter is primed to take over full time in goal.
KINGDOM BLADES (6-1-0)
Coach: Shaun Mosher
This five-school co-op is happy to be back in its home rink – the Fenton Chester Arena – for this season. New head coach Mosher says players who had smaller roles a year ago will need to step up to bigger ones this winter.
Senior Clara Andre and sophomore Reese Petit project to be leaders in the forward lines.
Sophomore Brooke-Lynn Choinere heads up the defense in front of returning senior goalie Courtney Lewis.
SOUTH BURLINGTON (6-5-0)
Coach: Courtney Barrett
The Wolves made great strides in last year’s shortened season, making a run at the state title game after just one win in the 19-20 year. A key this winter, according to Barrett, is taking that success and confidence and using it to their advantage.
There is some depth at forward, paced by sophomore Sabrina Brunet (17 pts) and senior Sofia Richland (12 pts). Senior Hope Brunet and sophomore Ava Hershburg are back as well and the group will be supplemented with the arrival of freshmen Sawyer Bailey and Lucie McCarney.
Anchors on defense for the Wolves are sophomores Kiley Burke and Cait Bartlett, and senior Mia Angwin (Skidmore field hockey commit), who was injured last year.
South Burlington will be breaking in a new goaltender
CHAMPLAIN VALLEY UNION/MT. MANSFIELD
Coach: Maggie DiMasi
The CougarHawks have a new head coach in Maggie DiMasi, who brings with her college coaching experience at both St. Michael’s and Norwich.
Key forwards project to be Tess Everett, Sabina Brochu, Anna West, Samara Tucker, Riley Erdman and Sasha Miller.
Karina Bushweller will be a factor on defense in front of goaltender Grace Ferguson.
Coach: Erin Robinson/Duncan Rollason
The Tigers will look to hard work to continue the sucess they had last season.
Key forwards project to be seniors Avery Gale and Patience Hanley, junior Nyna Cote, sophomore Erin Mulcahy and freshman McKenna Raymond.
Defensive leaders are junior Hana Doria and sophomore Lily Finn, while freshman Ruby Hubbell could see a lot of time in the cage.
Program newcomers include sophomore Amelia Quesnel and eighth-graders Lia Calzini and Kenyon Connors.
Coach: Molly Burke
In addition to new head coach Burke, the Raiders will feature a bevy of new faces in the lineup.
A group of key returners from last winter are sophomore forwards Isabel Donza, Kate Tilgner and Falon Forrest, and sophomore defenseman Iris Cloutier.
Coach: Larry Smith
Young overall, especially on defense, the Raiders will need to generate some good scoring opportunities.
That job will fall on returning seniors Allie Guthrie (9 pts) and Morgan Ribolini and junior Caitlyn Fielder (6 pts). Freshman Alexandria Pickel adds to the mix.
Senior Tegan O’Donnell and sophomore Peyton Allen are key holdovers on the blue line, a group bolstered by freshmen Gabrielle Cruickshank, Alyssa Frazier and Grace Lagerstedt.
Returning junior goalie Jin Clayton is solid. Also in the goaltending group is new freshman Renee Porter.
WOODSTOCK UNION (6-1-0)
Coach: Ian Coates
The Wasps are ready to make a run in Division 2, with strong defensive play the key.
Junior Isabel Konijnenberg will be an offensive catalyst for coach Coates, while junior Lily Gubbins will play a major role on defense. Sophomore Meridian Bremel handles the goaltending.