BRUNSWICK

Before the final girls high school soccer game was completed, the Mt. Ararat and Brunswick girls ice hockey teams began practicing at Bowdoin College’s Sidney J. Watson Arena, with the regular season slated to begin on Friday.

Both the Eagles and the Dragons have been working hard, with early morning practices the norm. What does the year have in store for the Dragons and secondyear varsity Eagles? Let’s take a look.

Brunswick Dragons coach Bill Bodwell, beginning his sixth season at the helm, has a young team and needs to replace solid scoring lost by the graduation of snipers Rachel Moroney and Eliza Brooks.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL girls hockey player Victoria Stevens (purple, top photo) works against teammate and defenseman Grace Rabinowitz during a recent practice at Sidney J. Watson Arena. The Dragons open their season on Saturday at Yarmouth/Freeport. In the bottom photo, Mt. Ararat girls hockey coach Ron Hutchins talks to his Eagles during a practice at Watson Arena. Mt. Ararat opens up its season Friday at Lewiston.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL girls hockey player Victoria Stevens (purple, top photo) works against teammate and defenseman Grace Rabinowitz during a recent practice at Sidney J. Watson Arena. The Dragons open their season on Saturday at Yarmouth/Freeport. In the bottom photo, Mt. Ararat girls hockey coach Ron Hutchins talks to his Eagles during a practice at Watson Arena. Mt. Ararat opens up its season Friday at Lewiston.

The Dragons struggled early last season, getting off to an 0-3 start. Brunswick bounced back to finish 7-11, good for the No. 4 seed in the East, with opponents outscoring Brunswick, 66-49.

The Dragons bested Winslow in the quarterfinals, 2-1 in overtime, before being eliminated by topseeded and eventual state champion Greely, 5-1 in the semifinals.

This year, Bodwell will look to continue rebuilding his program that just two seasons ago went 14-3-1, good for the top seed in the East, and advanced to the Eastern final (another loss to Greely).

Brunswick opens its season on Saturday at Yarmouth/Freeport.

Bodwell feels his goaltending, with senior Claire Mendes in net, and defense will be the keys to the Dragons’ success this season.

“We are going to have to score dirtier goals and more rebound-type goals, just throwing pucks at the net and hoping we can pound the net,” said Bodwell. “Our two leaders on the blueline are Grace Rabinowitz and Mary Sasso, with versatile Caitlyn Olson probably moving up to forward once Maddie Wilkes returns from injury. We will have some good leadership on the blueline, and when you combine that with Claire, defense will be our strength.

“Claire should be one of the better goaltenders in the state, and she will see plenty of pucks this year and I feel she will steal some games for us.”

Seniors Rabinowitz, Mendes and Sasso are joined by classmate Ashley Hartford (forward), while juniors Emily Yuodsnukis (forward) and Kristine Lajoie (forward), along with sophomores Tessa Cassidy (forward), Olson, Jordan Van Savage (forward) and Wilkes return.

Newcomers are freshmen Anna Webster, Caroline Headley, Audrey McDermott, Rochelle Maderal, Victoria Stevens and Adele Wise.

Bodwell expects the typical teams to be strong again.

“Like most girls hockey teams, we have our ups and downs,” said Bodwell. “St. Dom’s, which won the state championship a few years ago (2011), doesn’t have a program this year. We were as good as anybody in the state two years ago, and now we are back a little bit, trying to improve our hockey skills. We have a good middle school program right now, and those girls will be with us over the next couple years.

Brunswick hosts Lewiston in its home opener on Nov. 29 and hosts Winslow on Nov. 30.

Mt. Ararat

Their first year playing varsity girls hockey was a tough one for Ron Hutchins’ Eagles, which finished 0-18 and were outscored 129-25, but saw some light at the end of the tunnel in playing closer games, including two tough battles with rival Brunswick and leading late before falling to playoffbound Yarmouth/Freeport.

“All these girls have heart and proved it last year,” said Hutchins, who returns a solid core from last year that opens the season Friday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee against Lewiston. “They never gave up in a game. One coach said we were ‘a threat to any team that had their eyes on playoffs’ and that we ‘play to the very end of every game and any team we face will have to do the same.’ I thought that was a great compliment. These girls have my respect and admiration.”

Senior returnees include Devon Hutchins (Capt., forward, All-Conference Second Team last year), Nellie Hetherington (Capt., defense), Carly Raymond (F), Bailey Sullivan (Alt. Capt., D), Caroline Daniel (F), Kelly Richard (F), Sam Hamilton (F), Dani Krause (F) and Sierra White (F).

Junior goaltender Alison Nolan (Alt. Capt.) had an interesting first season of hockey for the Eagles. She stepped in with no experience between the pipes after an injury, and has worked hard during the offseason. And, as last season progressed, the junior found her footing and made countless saves to give her squad a chance.

“Alison had never skated or seen a hockey game until two weeks before the start of last season,” remembered coach Hutchins. “She had one hour of practice and then we threw her to the wolves so to speak. She loves the game, has been supported by her team and has been committed to improving herself. She’s attended clinics throughout the offseason and attended a hockey camp at the University of New Hampshire over the summer.”

Classmates Chelsea Scharold (F), Rebecca Schulman (F), Natalie Burch (F) and Piper Ingle (F) are continuing to work on improving their hockey skills while gaining experience on the fly, along with sophomores Kayla Richardson (F), Isabel Burch (F) and Jenny Thenor (F). Hutchins expects big things from sophomore returnee Kayla Pinkham (Alt. Capt., F/D).

Incoming freshmen Bella Slocum (F), Isa Blessington (F), Marilyn Daniel (goalie) and Bailey Charron are some of the new faces for the Eagles, along with freshman Kieley Hetherington, who brings with her the experience of travel hockey in her past.

“We’re expecting big things from incoming freshman Kieley Hetherington,” said Ron Hutchins. “A few of the new players have some pond hockey skating skills and we feel that they’ll be making contributions in game situations early in the season once they start to really learn the game. I think I’ve settled on my starting lineup and I’m trying to find some good chemistry for the second and third lines. With so few experienced players, matching players that work well together and will support each other is paramount.”

And, goals for this year?

“Would I like to see us in the playoffs this season? Of course I would!” said the coach. “It’s all up to the girls. We’ll see where they take us this year. I’m sure no matter what, it will be a really fun experience.”


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