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ConVal girls seek program’s first win

  • The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls hockey team hosted Berlin/Gorham on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for the program's second game ever.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

Going into its third season as an organization and its second competing in regular season play, the ConVal girl’s ice hockey team will heavily rely on returning players to keep things moving in the right direction.

The Cougars will be led by their captains, senior defenseman Olivia Thomas, senior forward Catherine Long and senior goalie Lilly Grisafi. Freshman forward Hannah Garfinkle will be the team’s starting center and will play a pivotal role in the team’s success this year.

“Grisafi we depended on a lot last year,” head coach Courtney McKay said. “We had to play a lot of defense, so we are looking for another strong season out of her. She saw about 35-40 shots a game and we are hoping she makes the same kinds of saves she did last season.”

Last season proved to be a tough one offensively, as the Cougars were unable to put the puck in the back of the net until Haley Webber scored the program’s first goal on Feb. 6, 10 games into the season.“We are looking to get more offense,” McKay said. “We struggled with that last season and we are hoping Catherine and Hannah can put some points up on the board for us.”

The loss of graduates Webber, Caroline Trowbridge and Annie Williams leave the Cougars with big skates to fill. Team bonding will be a key factor for the Cougars this year as they stride toward grabbing the team’s first victory.

“As always, they bond really well.,” McKay said. “They work together and they support each other. We have about nine girls who are starting as freshmen that have never played this sport before. It’s a big transition for them, so all my returners are good at easing them into things and supporting them and encouraging them on and off the ice.”

Being the only team at ConVal to play a Division I schedule means the girls ice hockey team will have to overcome the fact that they play talented teams with a lot of experience.

“We go against teams like Hanover and Lebanon that have had programs for 20-plus years. They have feeder programs, they have girls that have been skating since they were little and we have girls that have stepped on the ice maybe five times now,” McKay said.

But it’s hard to deny that the ConVal girls are becoming more and more relevant. The team’s numbers are up from last year; there are 19 girls on the roster this year compared to 14 last season.

“I think that it has become so big so quickly because of word of mouth and excitement,” McKay said. “My team last season did a great job of letting all the incoming freshmen know how much fun they had, and how much they learned in such a short amount of time.”

Things are looking up for the future, too; last week, the school board approved funding for next year’s girls team. Up until now, the team depended on fundraising to pay for ice time and bus trips.

“I think this additional funding will remove the financial burden felt by our parents and booster club,” McKay said. “I feel this will give our program a little breathing room and continue to give us the chance to teach future girls to be excited to get on the ice and play hockey.”

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