The winter sports season has finally arrived at HHS. Athletes have been viciously preparing and getting in shape for the new season.One group of athletes, female hockey players are entering what will be only their second season on a new team. A girl’s hockey team was created last winter combining high school aged girls from Ashland, Medway, Millis and Holliston.
Former hockey player, and junior Erin Johnston started playing hockey when she was six,
where she first started to play in a program called “Learn to play Hockey.” Her parents started her skating on ponds and she loved to skate so she decided to try hockey. She didn’t join an official team until she was eight.
“Whenever people found out that I played hockey they were really shocked,” Johnston said. Her kind personality would not give away her ferociously competitive game face on the ice.
Her opponents had mixed reactions when she was the only girl out on the ice. She said that people would wonder why she wasn’t playing field hockey instead.
“Technically the teams were supposed to be mixed.” She explained that it “was a mixed kind of reaction. For the most part it wasn’t a big deal.”
Playing on a girl’s high school team was different from when she played before. She explained that it is more intense.
“For me at least, the team part of it [is different]. It’s easier for me to build relationships with my teammates,” Johnston said. “You get to an age where [being on a team with boys] is too difficult.” She explained that she had a different mindset than many of the boys on her team.
Johnston said that the pace of the game isn’t much different; however, strategy can be. She explained that many of the games that the boys play are about being strong and powerful, while girls have a more technical approach. Her team acts strategically when they are out on the ice. Their strategies and hard work paid off because they made it to the state playoffs unfortunately ending the season in a controversial loss to Winthrop. Sadly, Johnston will not be returning to the rink this sports season, she will be working instead.
Sophomore Ellen Strang, a defenseman on the team, has played hockey since she was five. Before she played for the high school team she played on a girl’s hockey team in Natick.
Strang said that playing on a team with girls from other towns that she didn’t know well was a good experience because she “met a lot of people.”
“It’s more intense and it matters more, it’s not as laid back,” Strang said when asked about playing at the high school level. “It’s not just about fun anymore.”
Her favorite part of the season last year was playing in Martha’s Vineyard and most importantly, playing against Woburn. It was a tie with Woburn that got the team to states. Looking back on the season, she felt that the team’s performance during the season “wasn’t that bad.”
Sophomore Meaghan Croke played right wing during last year’s season. She has been playing hockey since she was four and plays for the Flames, a club team at the New England Sports Center. She said that if there was not a girl’s hockey team created last year, she would’ve played for the Flames again.
She likes playing hockey because it’s “fun and intense.” The program is taken more seriously than it was when she was younger. Croke also liked getting to meet new people and make new friends by playing on a team with people she hadn’t really known before.
When Croke reflected on last year’s team’s performance and season she felt the team did okay. She and Strang continued to work on their hockey skills off season. They are excited for the new season to start.