TIMES ARGUS GIRLS HOCKEY ALL-STARS
The first-line center forward was unstoppable for much of the season, tallying 37 goals and seven assists for the Raiders (10-10-1). She won over 75 percent of face-offs and used her speed to burn past opposing defensemen. One of the winter highlights for Robert was scoring twice, including the overtime game-winner, to cap a season sweep over eventual state champ Missisquoi. Robert scored five goals during an 8-2 victory over Brattleboro in addition to sparking a victory over North Country-Lyndon and a tie versus league-leading Burr and Burton. She will need 10 more points next season to reach the 100-point career milestone.
“She is a very dynamic offensive player and her speed is a strong suit,” U-32 coach Larry Smith said. “Once she gets in behind the defense, she is gone. She’s a good defensive player too, but she’s more offensive-minded. Always in her mind she is trying to look for that break where she can take off with the puck. If she plays to her potential, she is an extremely dangerous player on the ice. I think she has the capability to skate with some of the best players in the state.”
The reigning Times Argus Field Hockey Player of the Year was also a standout on the ice, contributing nine goals and two assists during hockey season. The defenseman was unanimously voted captain by her teammates and accounted for 36 percent of her team’s scoring. She was often targeted by opponents because of her skills, but she never backed down from a challenge. She played roughly half of every game, often filling in as a wing if her team trailed late.
“She led by example in terms of toughness and she could create things with her feet,” Tide coach Dave Lawrence said. “When she would get her feet going she would skate around kids with the puck. And she was a pretty accurate passer, so because of her foot speed she could create the space to make good plays. At Hartford, during our first win of the season, we were losing going into the third period. And we were talking about how we needed to get aggressive and get to the net, challenge the goalie. And not even two minutes into the period she scored doing exactly that. And then with a minute to go we threw her on the wing, because it was tied and we needed a goal. And she scored with 30 second left to get us the win.”
The three-sport standout made a seamless transition to her new team, leading a strong contingent of Northfield skaters who joined forces with Harwood on a cooperative squad. Brickey carried a strong fitness base into the season after guiding the Northfield-Williamstown soccer team in the fall. Last spring, she was the state runner-up in the 100 hurdles for the Division IV champion Northfield track and field team. Her primary role on the ice was defensive, but she still piled up six goals and nine assists for her 9-10-2 squad. She scored key goals during a 6-3 victory over North Country-Lyndon, a 4-2 victory over Burr and Burton and a 5-4 win over CVU. She scored a go-ahead goal against Rice before the Green Knights rallied to a 2-1 victory, and she also scored against high-powered South Burlington.
“Hailey is one of the best skaters in the league,” Harwood-Northfield coach Mike Vasseur said. “Her technical skating is really good and she played very well for me this year. She logged a ton of minutes on the power play and the penalty kill. And she scored a bunch of big goals for us over the season. She played especially well when we played against St. Albans and Essex. When you are going up against really top-flight forwards, you definitely need your defense to step up.”
Nine goals and eight assists by the underclassmen helped the Raiders (11-9-1) keep up with the best Vermont has to offer. Chauvin was never reluctant to battle for the puck in front of the net and in the corners, giving her team state-wide legitimacy. This week, she is representing the Vermont Shamrocks under-16 team at the national championships in Buffalo.
“She’s a hard-nosed power forward who can beat you along the boards and out-muscle you. If you want to bang below the goal line, she can do that too. But she’s also one of the premier skaters in the state and she has amazing breakaway speed,” Stowe coach Adrien Melrose said. “She’s a great defensive player too and she could have had a few more goals and assists if she cheated more offensively. But she’s a very responsible player and I can put her against any top line. ... Next year she could easily be Player of the Year in the state.”
Last year, Clark was a top-tier goalie who also played 14 games as a defenseman, scoring 17 goals in the process. This season, she stuck to the netminder position, limiting opponents to an average of 1.2 goals per game and recording seven shutouts. She made 45 saves in her team’s 1-0 loss to BFA-St. Albans in the Division I quarterfinals. Clark is competing for the Vermont Shamrocks under-18 team this week at national championships.
“She is just a great all-around athlete and you’re never out of a game with Leo in net,” Melrose said. “She’s a butterfly goalie and she takes away the bottom of the net, so it’s got to be a perfect shot to beat her. She’s great technically, and a lot of the goals she gave up were on screens or rebounds or garbage goals. If she could see the puck, she was saving it. This year, when Heather (Walker) went down for the first half, we made her an assistant captain. I usually don’t make goalies captains, but I changed the rule for that one. And she wasn’t one to yell at people. I think that’s her style of leadership: She always had something constructive to say. We leaned on her.”
The versatile center killed penalties, led the power play and had a knack for scoring timely goals after returning from an early-season injury. She scored three game-winning goals in limited action, following up last year’s 17-goal, five-assist campaign. Her efforts helped the Raiders stay close against BFA-St. Albans during a pair of one-goal losses.
“Heather is tall, she’s strong and she can skate,” Melrose said. “She’s great defensively, but if she gets a chance she can put the puck in the back of the net. She was hurt for the first half of the year, but when she came back we were a different team and we immediately became one of the best teams in the state. Down the stretch we had a lot of close games and she scored some big goals. She’s been a huge clutch player the last two years. I can’t count the number of times I’d trade my soul for a goal, and she’d always come up with it. And with her defense, if we wanted to shut somebody down, she could do that. She’s a great two-way player, and defensively she always took care of our own end before moving forward. She was never ahead of the puck on breakouts.”
The captain stopped over 800 shots this season, recording a 0.91 save percentage. She turned aside 51 shots during a 2-0 loss against Middlebury and was instrumental in securing two victories and a tie against Hartford. The positional goalie shattered the program’s all-time saves record last year and will leave a big void when she graduates.
“She’s got a pretty short memory, which is perfect for goaltending,” Lawrence said. “There are games where she is frustrated or she has a period where she is off, maybe if she has a slow start or something like that. And it never carries over to the next period. She is pretty much a clean slate each period, and each game. You don’t ever see her dwell on a bad goal. And if she has a great game you don’t ever see her get an ego about it either. She was somebody we could lean on constantly and you never had to worry about her getting too high or too low about her performance.”
The four-year standout started her varsity career as a defenseman before steadily shifting to an offensive role the past two seasons. She reached the finals as a freshman and advanced to the semis as a sophomore. This winter, she chipped in with four goals and nine assists, helping U-32 go 10-10-1 after a four-win season last year.
“She is just a very bright leader and she’s by far one of my favorite players I have ever coached,” Smith said. “She’s a great team player out on the ice. She really tries to think things through and really tries to set things up. She is very versatile, so I could put her on defense at any given time and she would know what to do. And she’s such a threat because she hustles and she just makes things happen. I have kept her out on the ice for some long stretches and she has never showed signs of being tired. She’s in good shape and she has a drive and doesn’t like to lose.”
Mekkelsen made a name for herself on the lacrosse field as a gritty playmaker, helping U-32 win a state title last spring. Despite being relatively new to hockey, she relied on her work ethic and sharp reflexes to quickly earn a starting spot on defense in the lineup. This season, she dished out eight assists while sparking shutouts against Hartford and Spaulding. Her energy allowed U-32 to neutralize some of the state’s elite teams, and midway through the season, the Raiders skated to a 2-1 victory over eventual D-II champ Missisquoi.
“Jenna just started playing as a freshman and she’s improved leaps and bounds,” Smith said. “She goes all-out when she’s on the ice and she really gets the girls going in the locker room. She has a lot to say and she definitely has a lot of leadership ability.”
When the speedy forward was in her element, it was lights out for opponents. She followed up a successful freshman campaign by registering 11 goals and 11 assists this winter. Curtin opened the season with a bang, notching two goals and one assist during a 4-3 victory over eventual state champion Missisquoi. The next game, she had one goal and one assist in a 3-3 tie against Burr and Burton. She scored twice in a 6-4 victory over North Country-Lyndon before contributing one goal and one assist in a 4-3 win over Spaulding. Curtin also dished out the opening assist during a mid-season 2-1 victory over Missisquoi.
“Cece played on a line with Renee (Robert) and the two of them worked very well together,” Smith said.
Midway through the season, Harwood-Northfield was mired in a five-game losing skid, but Dow’s late-season burst helped her team bounce back with a six-game unbeaten streak. She scored timely goals in a 5-2 victory over U-32, a 4-1 win over Brattleboro and a 6-3 victory over North Country-Lyndon. She found the back of the net in a 3-2 loss to CVU during the regular season before her team claimed payback in the post-season. Dow scored a go-ahead goal late in the first period, setting the tone for a 4-2 quarterfinal victory over CVU. It was Harwood’s first playoff victory since 2013.
“She just outworks everyone on the ice,” Vasseur said. “She started playing hockey as a freshman and just has improved leaps and bounds every year. She’s not afraid to fall down and learn.”
Tousignant was one of a handful of seniors who helped navigate choppy waters early in their varsity careers. Harwood went 1-19-1 three years ago and was a 3-17-1 squad last year, but this season’s new cooperative team with Northfield helped right the ship with a 9-10-2 record. Tousignant scored twice in a 7-1 victory over Spaulding and tallied one goal in a 4-2 victory over Burr and Burton. She had one goal and three assists in a 4-1 win over Brattleboro.
“She’s a smart hockey player,” Vasseur said. “She plays 200 feet of the ice up and down to cover in front of our net and up. ... She’s a four-year skater, and it was tough for two or three years. For the seniors, this was the only year that they actually had a shot in playoffs without being one-and-down.”