by Dakota Antelman
The girls hockey team finished the season in second place in the Central/West Conference of Division II Girls Hockey. And, as the season culminated with their playoff loss to Falmouth, the team was aware of a theme that had defined them this year; the success of the freshmen.
A pair of freshman goalies, two dominant ninth grade wingers, and an entire forward line made up of freshmen helped the team topple some of the best teams that Division II has to offer.
Of the four freshman starters for the T-Hawks, Hudson’s Kayla Currin and Algonquin’s Meghan Ward both finished the year ranking among the top 15 forwards in the league in points scored.
Currin in particular led the team in goals with 14, a whopping six more goals than she scored in her eighth grade season. She recognizes the noticeable step up in skills between her eighth grade hockey season and this ninth grade one.
“My stick work, skating has been very good [compared to last year],” she said. “My teammates have been giving me great passes to score, and I’ve been giving them great passes.”
Currin skated with a varying combination of linemates all season. She saw time as a left winger on the team’s top line made up of Nicole Columbe and Abby Chrisafideis, while also being paired up with Meghan Ward and others in various shorthanded and power play situations. But through all those different offensive combinations, the one constant was been her finishing ability.
The same could be said for Currin’s teammate Meghan Ward. Ward scored ten goals this season earning unquestioned praise from her teammates and coaches.
“She’s very good. Gets great passes, makes great passes,” Currin said of Ward. “She can pretty much skate around anyone.”
However, as she does with her own success, Currin attributes some of what Ward did this season to the work of her linemates: Julia Lane and Meghan Holmes.
“They’re all freshmen,” Currin says. “They start some games, blue line starts other games, which is my line. They just all connect really well because they’ve all played together before [on a different team].”
Experience and familiarity with teammates outside of the T-Hawks organization stood as a secondary theme among the freshmen on this team. Kayla Currin has played for the Minutemen Flames club team for seven years while Meghan Ward entered the season as a member of the elite Assabet A Team.
Coach Jay Monfreda credits Ward’s second team with helping prepare her for the physicality of high school hockey.
“She’s finding that the bigger girls, the bigger, stronger girls she’s playing against are a lot more physical,” Monfreda says. “You know, that’s really what you’re gonna see in the playoffs.”
He feels that his team, which was ranked 10th overall in the top 10 Massachusetts Division II schools back in the first week of January, had somewhat of a target on their backs when they opened the playoffs with a loss to Falmouth.
“When you get ranked 10th and you’re playing better Division I schools and Division II schools, the physicality, it’s pretty high,” he admitted after an early January game against the Shrewsbury Colonials. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Again, what their [the freshman] learning curve is is finding out how to play a lot of physical teams.”
The T-Hawks are in the midst of a transition between the older core group of players on their team and their younger stars. Though this transition year went very well for Currin, Ward, and the rest of the freshmen, they are all looking ahead to what their sophomore, junior and senior seasons will hold for them.
Simply, the presence of so many freshmen on this team grants them near immunity from yearly roster turnover due to graduating seniors for the next three years. It gives them the ability to develop their team with a focus on the long term rather than just one or two seasons with the same group of players.
“I’m excited that we can and will be all playing together as we get up to senior year,” Currin confirms. “We’re not gonna be dropping any players or whatever. So I’m definitely looking forward to what’s ahead, this year and beyond.”