Girls ice hockey: Storylines to watch in the 2021 season
It’s going to be a hectic few months ahead but the positive is that the puck will drop soon on the 2021 season.
Each brand new season comes plenty of storylines to keep an eye on.
We have a new league, plenty of young stars ready to blossom and seniors hoping to cap their careers in style. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most intriguing storylines entering the 2021 season.
Welcome to the NJIGIHL
With the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic taking a one-year break because of interstate competition regulations, a few of New Jersey’s teams needed a new home. The solution? A new 10-team league featuring only squads from the Garden State was formed by athletic directors. Morristown-Beard, Pingry, Trinity Hall, Oak Knoll, Kent Place, Westfield, Summit, Randolph, Madison and Chatham will all take part in this new league. The hope is that a tournament can be put together at the end of the season but that’s up in the air at the moment.
Morristown-Beard freshmen ready to make a big impact
Morristown-Beard is fresh off winning the first-ever state championship at Prudential Center last March. While the crew of Leah Stecker, Lilli Warnock, Faith Facchini, Logan Sutera and Alexa Degan all come back, the Crimson have four freshmen coming in that are looking to make their mark. Kailin Kane, Brooklyn Chen and Kiera Redmond all have the potential to land spots on the blue line with three spots open left by graduating seniors last spring. Jessica Sperling will be a solid addition to the forward group as well.
New bench boss hoping to lead Kent Place
Timothy Maset had been the only coach in the program’s history, manning the bench all six years until stepping aside in the offseason. Mike Wujek is set to take over after having been an assistant coach for three seasons. Overall, he’s been coaching girls hockey since 2001. He’ll take over a program that brings back plenty of players from a season ago. Sydney Pence, Katie Lubow and Elizabeth Mastrangelo will supply the veteran leadership to help bring along young talent like sophomores Scarlett Gibby and Catherine Paris.
Wealth of talent coming back for Princeton Day
Princeton Day underwent a four-win drop between the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. It loses a couple of big pieces in Charlotte and Caroline Haggerty, most of last year’s group comes back. Hailey Wexler is a standout talent up front and she’ll look to put up the best year of her career. Twin sister Jillian was one of the better goalies in the state last year and will do the same this season. This team has a lot of experience and enough depth to give it some high expectations.
Youth movement has Madison looking forward
Sure, a 1-11-1 season was tough but it was the first in program history. Things are looking up for this team this season, though. There are strong veteran leaders in Rachel Bear, Myah Tahl and Josephine Piacenti but the team brings in eight freshmen with experience. Mia McSherry and Anastasia Melikova will be impactful on offense. Izzy Hunter, meanwhile, looks to become a fixture on the blue line. This injection of youth should make Madison a much more competitive team in its second season.
Oak Knoll hopes to build off best season ever
With a record of 10-8-2, the 2019-20 season was the best in program history for Oak Knoll. Coach Meghan Cassidy hopes the team can reach that measure of success and surpass it with the crew that’s hitting the ice this winter. Emma Lacz was a standout goaltender last season and could be one of the best in the state if she has a repeat performance. Paige Kehoe is a dynamic forward and is an excellent pick as the captain. Kate Siedem and Emma Ramsey are two sophomores that will contribute in all three zones as well.
Can Trinity Hall overcome its transfers?
Trinity Hall lost two seniors to graduation and four key players to transfers in the offseason. Can the returning team replace the 37 goals it lost? It’s certainly possible but it will have to be a team effort to do so. It’s Anna Clements and Noelle Turek’s team to lead now. Clements is a top defenseman and power-play quarterback. Turek, meanwhile will hope to lead a strong list of sophomores. This is a terrific opportunity for the younger players to step up and build a foundation for this program’s future.
Pingry’s sophomores poised to take the next step
One of the biggest stories from last season was the freshman class for Pingry, which combined for 53 goals. Now as sophomores, the group needs to take the next step after losing seniors like Olivia Nugent, Rylie Drozjock, Lizzie Gilfillan and Allie Moss. Elizabeth Bonner, Aubrey Hanan and Cece Korn are three of those star sophomores and have Pingry thinking big this year.
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Brian Bobal may be reached at [email protected]. Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianBobalHS.