The Brunswick girls’ hockey team is doing more than picking up where it left off last season. It’s taking the program one or two steps further.

A four-game win streak near the end of last season propelled Brunswick into contention for a tournament berth. It fell just short but the Dragons are starting early this season.

After opening with a 3-3 tie against usually powerful Lewiston and holding a 4-1 edge in shots in a 5-1 loss to Cheverus, Brunswick has reeled off four consecutive wins to move atop the East Heal Point standings with a 4-1-1 record.

“That nice part about our success is that these are the same girls who two years ago only won three games,” Brunswick Coach Bill Bodwell said. “It really shows how hard they’ve worked, and it’s really nice that they can see how far they’ve come through their effort and dedication, that they can take a program that kind of struggled and now we’re having success. I think it’s a great life lesson.”

The core of the team remains five seniors who were on the squad when it won one game as freshmen.

“You usually don’t see a team that takes the same core and is able to get that level of improvement,” Bodwell said. “Usually when a team gets better, they get some new freshmen in. Generally the core of our team are the girls who have been with us for a while. It really speaks volumes about how hard these girls have worked, how much they’ve improved.”

Senior forwards Annie Kelly, Rachel Moroney and Eliza Brooks comprise the Dragons’ top-scoring line. Forward Sarah Thibeault also has made timely offensive contributions.

Seniors Caroline Wild and Suzannah Smith, younger sister of former Brunswick boys’ standout Kit Smith, are the top defensive tandem. Sophomore Jen Machin is another key defender.

Sophomore goalie Claire Mendes, who didn’t begin to play hockey until 14 months ago after she entered high school, has been pivotal.

“She’s tall and when she goes into the butterfly, she’s very flexible and can cover up a lot of net,” Bodwell said.

During the win streak, Mendes has allowed a total of three goals.

“We’re apt to give up outside shots,” Bodwell said, “but we really try to minimize a team’s chances from in tight or from the slot.”

The recent success really comes down to a tendency to outwork opponents.

“What I’ve been preaching to my team this year is the only way we’re going to beat anybody is we have to work harder than them,” Bodwell said. “We don’t have any superstars. We’re kind of a lunch-pail team in that we’ve never had an absolute stud we could rely on.”

While there aren’t enough girls to fill out a junior varsity squad, the future of girls’ hockey in Brunswick looks promising.

Over a two-week period in October, more than 75 girls participated in a six-hour clinic at Bowdoin College for girls who are in the third through eighth grades.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH