Tigers' Girls' Hockey Squad Features Mix of Veterans and Prospects
Junior captain goalkeeper Megan Hart and her teammates on the Hand/Coginchaug/Valley/Haddam-Killingworth girls’ hockey squad are enjoying being out there and competing on the ice this winter. The head coach of the Tigers is Eric Roy. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Ava Pellegrino (right) celebrates after scoring a goal for the Tigers during last week’s game versus Guilford. Also pictured celebrating the goal is senior captain Mia Rice (left). (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Sydney Courtmanche has netted six goals for the Tigers thus far during the 2021 winter campaign. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Valley sophomore Callie Breitenbach is a key member of the defensive corps for the Hand/Coginchaug/Valley/Haddam-Killingworth girls’ ice hockey team. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
The Hand/Coginchaug/Valley/Haddam-Killingworth (H/C/V/H-K) co-op girls' ice hockey team recently began its third season with Head Coach Eric Roy. The team features 17 athletes from four local high schools, including 14 who go to Hand and one apiece who attend Haddam-Killingworth, Valley Regional, and Coginchaug, respectively.
H/C/V/H-K has a record of 2-4 thus far on the season. In last week's action, the Tigers took a 9-6 loss to Guilford and then dropped a 5-2 decision in a game against Amity-North Haven-Cheshire.
Coach Roy was quite pleased with the way that his team began the 2021 season. H/C/V/H-K started strong by recording a 4-2 win versus Hamden-Wilbur Cross-Lyman Hall-O'Brien Tech in its season opener on Feb. 10. Then on Feb. 17, the team posted a 3-0 victory versus Masuk-Barlow-Newtown-Lauralton-Shelton-New Milford in its second game of the year. The Tigers' 2-0 start marked the best for the squad in the past five seasons.
"Our first two games of the season were great. Overall, we're exceeding expectations," Coach Roy said. "I want us to compete in every game going forward. After we got those two wins, we lost to the two powerhouses in our conference, West Haven-Sacred Heart Academy and Guilford. I want us to play those two teams a lot closer. I have a bunch of new skaters who I want to put in game situations, so they can get more experience as the year goes on."
H/C/V/H-K's roster includes 14 Hand students. Those athletes are senior captain Mia Rice, junior captain Megan Hart, juniors Adelia McGuire, Sydney McMullen, Kaia Lind, Grace Williams, Carly Brasky, and Ava Pellegrino; sophomores Lily Fried, Emily Couto, Brynn McKeown, and Brooklyn Jepson; and freshmen Faith Minickene and Sydney Courtmanche.
The other athletes on the team are Breitenbach; Jaimey DiNapoli, a freshman at Haddam-Killingworth; and Medori Wheatley, a junior who goes to Coginchaug.
Rice and Hart and serving as the Tigers' captains this season. Hart also plays goalie for the team and recorded 154 saves through the team's first five games to go with a shutout in the win against the Masuk co-op.
"Megan has been a rock for us," said Roy. "We're focusing more on our defensive zone coverage this season, so Megan isn't faced with as many shots. Last year, we were getting outshot in nearly every game. I think we've done a nice job this year of clearing the zone the first or second chance we get. It's led to more success for us on the ice."
Breitenbach is another player who has been turning in solid performances on the defensive side of the ice. Breitenbach has started every game for the Tigers since joining the team as a freshman, and Coach Roy calls her one of their most dependable players.
"She's a strong defensive player. The one thing we are trying to do is get her to be more offensive-minded during games," Roy said. "She's more assertive on the offensive end in practices, so if we could get that to translate to games, that would be great. We don't expect a lot of points from her. We just expect her to shut down the opposing team's best player."
When it comes to offense, there are several young players who have been producing for the Tigers thus far. Through the squad's first five contests, Courtmanche scored six goals for the team. Fellow freshman Minickene and sophomore Jepson had both scored three goals through the first five games.
Last week, H/C/V/H-K played two games and took defeats in both contests. On Feb. 27, the Tigers took a 9-6 road loss to Guilford at Northford Ice Pavilion. The next day, H/C/V/H-K faced Amity-North Haven-Cheshire as the home team at Northford Ice and lost the contest by a 5-2 score.
Courtmanche scored three goals for the Tigers in their game against Guilford. Minickene, Jepson, and Pellegrino each had one goal in the game.