Playing with Shamrocks — ‘it’s very different’

HUDSON, N.H. - When Jody Clement brought her daughter Dakotah to her first skating lesson, all the other girls wore figure skates. Dakotah had hockey skates.

Blame her mother. Jody Clement began playing hockey when she was 30 years old — “a friend suggested it and I loved it” — and Jody wanted to give Dakotah a chance to fall for the sport as well.

It worked. Dakotah began playing in first grade. She became a good player and, when she was older, her skills caught the attention of the Boston Shamrocks hockey club.

After two high school seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover, N.H., Clement moved to Massachusetts to join the Shamrocks. She lives in a house with 11 teammates and two assistant coaches. She takes classes online and works with a tutor, supplied by the team.


“It’s very different,” Clement said after a Shamrocks game in Hudson, N.H. “And I didn’t realize how much of a commitment it was.”

But Clement adjusted and returned for a second season this year. She will go home in March and, while finishing requirements for her diploma, plans to run track for Noble High.

Next year is up in the air.

“I’m looking at my options,” Clement said. “I’m still communicating with some D-III (Division III schools), but I’m really hoping for D-I.”


Her unconventional path proves ‘it’s possible’


WATERVILLE - Megan Fortier skates with the same crouching style she had in high school, ready to explode into a sprint. Last year, Fortier dominated on her Falmouth High team and was named the girls’ hockey Player of the Year by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

This year, Fortier is in college and holding her own as a Colby freshman. In fact, she skates on the top line for the Mules.

“That was a surprise,” she said.

That Fortier is performing well may be a surprise to hockey observers who believe players need to join elite teams to get ready for college. Fortier did play prep school hockey her junior year at North Yarmouth Academy. But she missed Falmouth High and returned for her senior season.

“Everyone says you have to go away to be seen,” Fortier said. “It’s definitely easier if you do that, but I think there are still other ways. I really wanted to have a regular high school (experience) and I still ended up at a good school with a good team. (I think) it’s possible to do both.”

“She has good sense and she’s a hardworking kid,” Colby women’s hockey coach David Venditti said. “She’s a grinder. That’s helped her. Her skill, like everyone else, needs to develop. But she works hard enough where her skills are developing.”



‘No chance’? Persistence pays off when call comes

ORONO - Katy Massey played as a regular defenseman on a good Waterville High boys hockey team. She graduated in 2011 and hoped to skate for her state school, the University of Maine. Massey contacted Black Bears coach Maria Lewis and got a lukewarm response.

“She really wasn’t on the radar,” Lewis said. “We were recruiting players we felt were better. She was so small (5-foot-1). We thought this kid is going to get killed.”

Massey tried to keep her head up.

“I was pretty upset because I planned on coming here,” Massey said. “(Lewis) basically told me there was no chance, that there were no spots on the roster. I tried to keep a positive outlook, that something could happen. Someone could leave. I kept working out because I knew if I was given an opportunity and I wasn’t ready, I would regret it the rest of my life. The whole summer I dedicated myself to something that I didn’t know was really going to happen.”


The call came. A player left. Massey could try out for the open spot. She did, and Lewis was impressed.

“It was really nice to see somebody work so hard in the off-season, train and do what she needed to do,” Lewis said.

Now a sophomore, Massey has played in all 25 games.


She’s improving athletics, academics at prep school

WINCHENDON, Mass. - Abby Rutt, a force in Maine high school hockey when she skated for Scarborough High, now wears a New Hampton Huskies jersey.


But Rutt is a different player from her Scarborough days, a more rounded player, now in her second year of prep school.

“She is a more agile skater, she pivots quicker and she gets her shot off quicker,” New Hampton coach Craig Churchill said.

Rutt came to the New Hampton (N.H.) School to improve her game. While at Scarborough, she constantly heard how she had to move away to get better.

“It fell into place after my junior year,” said Rutt, the youngest of four children, all of whom played hockey, including Jacob, who is now skating for the University of Maine. “Of course I miss my family and friends. But I’m not lonely. I quickly built good relationships at New Hampton.”

And she has built up her academic resume, entering New Hampton’s International Baccalaureate program, with plans to enroll at Wesleyan University next year as a pre-med major.



Goalie goes for it, is ‘really happy with my decision’

PORTLAND - Ashley Winslow was a goalie looking for a challenge. She did not think she would find it playing high school girls hockey in Maine. So after eighth grade, Winslow packed up and left for St. George’s School in Newport, R.I.

“It was pretty tough,” Winslow said. “But I stayed pretty busy. And I loved it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

She enjoyed the academics and the hockey. Her skills improved and a few Division III colleges were interested. Winslow likely would have played regularly if she went to one of them. But she visited Division I Quinnipiac and liked it. Winslow walked on (i.e., no scholarship) and became the team’s No. 3 goalie. She practices and travels with the team, but has yet to play a game.

“It’s tough not playing, but I’m on a team and on the ice every day,” Winslow said. “Sometimes I think about (the possibility of playing for a Division III team), but I love my teammates and my school. I’m really happy with my decision.”


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