Girls’ hockey team defies odds, makes ‘Elite Eight’

Team creates bonds along the way

Amelia Sinclair and Ava Arcona

The defending state champion girls’ hockey team exceeded expectations by making it to the ‘Elite Eight’ round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) playoffs, ending with a 18-4-1 record, after having to rebuild with a team made up of nearly half freshmen. 

The team entered the tournament ranked #5 and moved through the playoffs with a first round 2-1 overtime win against Natick High School, followed by a 4-3 win against #12 Dedham High School, and ultimately a 3-0 loss to #4 Canton High School.

The team of 19 players, led by senior captains Olivia Bower of Hudson and Kaitlin Mathews of Nashoba, along with assistant captains juniors Bryn Domolky of Algonquin and Emily Johns of Clinton, had eight freshmen entering into this season. The team has players from Algonquin, AMSA, Hudson, Nashoba and Clinton.

“At the beginning of the year [having a team with freshmen making up almost half of the players] was a challenge because they had to adjust to the team spirit and the team rules,” Domolky said. “I think building that bond is really important because when you don’t have any chemistry off the ice it’s hard to have playing chemistry on the ice.”

For the 2023 season, along with having a team with a lot of new players, the team also had a new head coach. Former assistant coach Tina Beauchemin stepped into a new role as head coach.

“[Beauchemin] couldn’t have done a more amazing job,” Domolky said. “[She is] definitely a huge reason why we got so far. She knows so much about hockey and her coaching skills are just outstanding.”

Junior Linda Hu felt the team was able to come together throughout the season on and off the ice.

“We had an amazing season,” Hu said. “We had great team chemistry this year; we felt like a family. I know we didn’t go all the way to the [TD] Garden but I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished as a team. [Not only] our scores, but also the emotional aspect of it.”

While the overall season consisted of numerous victories, a game that stood out to both Domolky and sophomore Betsy Bertonazzi was their first-round playoff game against Natick High School with a final score of 2-1. Freshman Brenna Joyce scored the winning goal in overtime.

“We were able to come back as a team late in the game and win it,” Bertonazzi said. “That was kind of a theme that happened this year. If we went down we were able to come back as a team, and come back strong to win together.”

During the game against Natick, Mathews made 27 saves. Domolky cited her as a player who really shone this season. 

“[Mathews] really just stepped up to the plate and took initiative…she just played phenomenal,” Domolky said.

Bertonazzi, Domolky and Hu all stressed the strong bond created between teammates.

“If I could change anything about this season it would be to have more time, because I think that our team was very successful and I just loved the bond that this specific group of girls had,” Domolky said. “We’re going to miss our seniors so much and although our season went on longer than just the regular season, I really wish that I had more time with the girls and I’m sure a bunch of them could say the same as well because our bond was just so tight.”