St. Dominic Academy girls’ hockey coach Paul Gosselin knows a talent like Kristina Cornelio doesn’t come around often.

“Every now and then, a coach gets ‘that player.’ ” Gosselin said. “You get this one kid who just takes it to another level. She’s a pure student of the game.”

A sophomore forward, Cornelio had 55 goals and 29 assists to lead the Saints to an undefeated season and their second straight state championship. She stood out among a team of standouts, earning recognition as the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Girls’ Hockey Player of the Year.

“Most (standout) high school kids are lucky to get 100 goals in their career,” Gosselin said, noting that Cornelio has almost 90 in just two years. “A lot of those games, I held her back. It could have been more.”

Cornelio started playing hockey at age 4. She grew up around the sport, watching her brother, Alexander, play for St. Dom’s before he graduated in 2008.

“I wanted to be like him when I was younger,” Cornelio said. “I kind of followed in his footsteps.”

She attended clinics and played on various teams before high school – none more physical than a boys’ checking league in seventh and eighth grade.

“That was definitely a big opportunity for me to play at a higher pace,” Cornelio said. “When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to play in college, so that has been my goal.”

Cornelio’s experience competing against boys is evident in her physical style. And she is strong. Gosselin attributes her improvement from her freshman season to the hours she spent in the gym during the offseason.

“As you get to higher levels, not only do you have to be talented – you have to have strength,” Gosselin said. “She really took that to heart last season, and it paid off. She got exponentially better than the league as a whole.”

St. Dominic (21-0) rolled to the state championship, averaging eight goals a game and defeating Falmouth 10-2 for the title.

Gosselin said Cornelio has “speed and a killer shot” along with “great lateral movement.” But Gosselin said it’s her character off the ice that sets her apart. He recalled a conversation at midseason when players debated getting jackets or sweatshirts if they were to win back-to-back state titles. He said one girl suggested adding “2017” to their jackets from last year.

“Before that sentence was even done, Kristina was saying, ‘Well, yeah, but we have one girl who wasn’t with us last year, so she won’t be able to take pride in it,’ ” Gosselin said. “Right off the bat, she’s thinking of that person instantly.”

That unselfishness translates to her play on the ice. Gosselin points to games where Cornelio had an open net but passed to a teammate who hadn’t yet scored.

Along with her coach and teammates, who she calls her “best friends,” Cornelio has enjoyed the support of her hockey-loving family. Her brother videotapes her games and sends her “good luck” texts.

Next season is still up in the air for Cornelio, who is looking at transferring to a prep school. She tentatively plans to play hockey at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut.

One thing is for sure: her early success hasn’t gone to her head.

“I know I’m not the best – there are so many girls who are way better than me,” Cornelio said. “I just try each game to be the best on the ice.”

ALL-STATE TEAM

Courtney Brochu, Scarborough sophomore defenseman: A strong skater who can play the body well, Brochu earned first-team All-South honors and had 10 assists and six goals – two of which were game-winners.

Jenna Brooks, Brunswick sophomore forward: A first-team All-North selection, Brooks scored four of Brunswick’s seven playoff goals and totaled 73 points (49 goals, 24 assists) on the season.

Evie Clement, Falmouth senior forward: A strong all-around player and a first-team All-South pick, Clement recorded 24 goals and 19 assists.

Katie Clemmer, Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester senior, forward: Clemmer, a first-team All-North selection, has great hands, skating skills and an ability to anticipate, making her extremely dangerous with the puck.

Kristina Cornelio, St. Dominic sophomore forward: The first-team All-North pick led the Saints to their second straight state title with 55 goals and 29 assists.

Isabelle Frenette, St. Dominic sophomore defenseman: A quick, reliable defenseman who’s strong on the puck, Frenette finished with 17 goals and 27 assists.

Bekah Guay, Biddeford/Thornton Academy senior goalie: A two-time All-State selection, Guay often faced 40-plus shots but kept her team in a lot of close games.

Avery Lutrzykowski, St. Dominic sophomore forward: A fast skater with great hands, Lutrzykowski contributed 32 goals and 40 assists, including three goals and three assists in the state final. She also excels at killing penalties.

Caroline Proctor, Falmouth senior defenseman: A smart defenseman with great vision, Proctor always seemed to be in position. The first-team All-South pick totaled three goals and 11 assists.

Ellie Schad, Greely senior defenseman: The first-team All-North selection is quick with great lateral movement and a powerful shot, making her a dynamic, offensive defenseman. She had 10 goals and 10 assists.

Courtney Sullivan, Greely junior forward: An elusive player with a deceptively quick shot, Sullivan was a first-team All-North selection and finished the season with 29 goals and 12 assists.

Nica Todd, Greely senior goalie: Todd rarely made mistakes or gave up a bad rebound. The first-team All-North pick recorded seven shutouts.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Paul Gosselin, St. Dominic: The Saints have gone 40-2 over the last two seasons, winning back-to-back state championships. This winter, they capped an undefeated season with a 10-2 win over Falmouth in the state final.

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: TaylorVortherms