Improving Lady Wreckers build towards future
Although the results don't reveal it, the Staples girls hockey team is moving in the right direction.
"I think the team has improved," Staples Coach Dave Rollison said. "The players
skills are better and the new players have stepped up and did a fantastic job."
The Lady Wreckers were winless for the second straight year but they scored more goals and allowed fewer than last year. This is Staples' second year as a varsity team, fourth as a program (the team played a JV schedule during its first two years of existence and won games as a JV team].
"It was a great season," Lady Wrecker senior captain Jenny Kopack said. "We had a learning season and we had fun, which is what counts."
Senior captain Abbie Beckoff said, "I thought it was an amazing year. We all got close and we're like a family."
With no youth hockey program in Westport, Staples lacks the experience that its opponents possess.
"A lot of us haven't played before, some of us haven't skated [until they got to ninth grade], like myself," Beckoff stated. "We played against teams who have played together for a long time."
Despite facing these obstacles, the Lady Wreckers never quit. Junior Jen Hoets, a newcomer to the sport, led Staples in goals with nine, scoring them on three hattricks, and had five assists to finish tied for the team lead in points with 14. Classmate Brittany Hamlin also had 14 points with six goals and eight assists.
"We put up a good fight in a lot of games," Kopack said.
Also scoring for the Lady Wreckers were juniors Kate Shanahan (4-8-12), who was tied for the team lead in assists, Jenna Chusid ((4-3-7), Beckoff (3-0-3), junior Emma Axthelm (1-1-2), senior Melissa Goldstein (0-1-1) and juniors Freja Andrews (0-1-1) and Emma Malpeso (0-1-1).
Juniors Gwen Moyer and Emma Kahn are the goalies and they both came up big between the pipes this year. Moyer and Kahn faced a barrage of shots with the puck mostly in Staples' end and stopped approximately 85 percent of them.
"They made the first stop almost every time," Rollison said.
Most of the goals they gave up were on rebounds and it's much harder for a goalie to stop rebounds than the original shot.
Moyer and Shanahan are next year's captains and they are confident that the team will continue to improve. Working in the Lady Wreckers' favor was that most of their top players were juniors.
"We improved a lot from the last season and we hope more improvement is to come next year," Moyer said.
Shanahan said, "I think we did well and I hope we pick off where we left off so we can improve even more. I'd like to see us win a game."
Rollison is confident that Staples will have its first varsity win next year.
"We have new players coming in, the returning players are improving and I'm excited," he said. "I have no doubt that we'll have one, if not, many wins next year. We're at a point where we're competitive in the FCIAC and in the Central Division."
It will take the right work ethic and mindset for these goals to come to fruition.
"We have to work hard because we have the basics down," Moyer said. "We just need to have the right attitude and we'll win."
Shanahan said, "We have to believe in ourselves and we'll be able to do it."
Setting something up in Westport at the youth level would make a difference down the road.
"It would be nice to have a feeder program in town because the girls will know what they are doing before get to high school," Beckoff said.
Ice notes: Hoets and Shanahan were selected All-FCIAC Honorable Mention. Kahn and Moyer both received the Most Improved Player award. Hoets was the Block S Team MVP and Beckoff was bestowed with the Block S Coach's award. Sophomore Charlotte Axthelm received the Team Spirit award. Rollison recognized Beckoff, Kopack, Goldstein and team manager Alex Schmerzler for being team founders at the banquet, along with 10 other people who graduated from 2007-09.