When it came to hockey, Courtney Sullivan had no idea she was anything special as a young player.

That’s because the Greely/Gray-New Gloucester forward was playing on boys’ teams until she was in high school.

“It has just been a more popular sport for them so there was more competition,” Sullivan said of boys’ hockey. “It was faster, and they were a little bit better just because they’ve been in the sport longer. … I was nothing special.”

Girls’ hockey is finally gaining some traction in Maine, thanks partly to standout players such as Sullivan, a senior who led Greely with 69 points (45 goals, 24 assists). She scored three unassisted goals in the Rangers’ 3-1 state championship win over Cheverus/Kennebunk, earning her Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year honors.

“Courtney is a really special example for young girls playing hockey in Maine,” Greely Coach Nate Guerin said. “There are a lot of good players in the area who can help attract other young girls to the game so that, hopefully, girls’ hockey continues to grow.”

Sullivan stands out for more than just her skill and speed. At 6 feet tall without skates on, she uses her frame and long reach to protect the puck and dictate the possession of the game.

Sullivan totaled 194 points (121 goals, 73 assists) over her four years with the Rangers (19-3). She will play for Endicott College next season.

“She came in as a freshman and was immediately one of the best players in the state,” Guerin said. “I think it took a couple of years for her to realize she really was one of the best and that she had the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Guerin said he noticed a shift in Sullivan’s confidence and determination after her sophomore year, when the Rangers were undefeated during the regular season but suffered a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the eventual state champion, St. Dominic, in the North final.

Greely lost to St. Dom’s again in last season’s regional final as the Saints went on to win their second consecutive state title.

“I think losing her sophomore year was a really hard way for our season to end, having had a great season that year,” Guerin said. “She just kind of realized it wasn’t just going to happen for us. … She started to stand out even more, if that was possible.”

This season Sullivan took Greely’s fate into her own hands with a hat trick in the state final against Cheverus/Kennebunk, scoring all three goals off transition plays. She also scored four goals and added three assists as the Rangers dethroned St. Dom’s with a 7-2 win in the North semifinals.

Greely’s state title is all the more impressive considering the team had only 13 players on its roster and was relying on a handful of players who were new to hockey.

“When the heat is on and the competition is high, that’s (Sullivan’s) time to hit the switch and say, ‘I’m doing this.’ She just gets to a point where she’s not going to take no for an answer,” Guerin said.

“This was the seniors’ last chance and she made sure they didn’t come up short.”

Sullivan was awarded the inaugural Becky Schaffer Award – the girls’ equivalent of the prestigious Travis Roy Award.The award is named in honor of a former Yarmouth High player who played for the boys’ team before girls’ hockey became a sanctioned sport by the Maine Principals’ Association in 2008.

“That was really such an honor, not only because her mom was there and talked about her,” Sullivan said, “but it’s also just great to see more awards and more popularity for girls’ hockey because it’s such a great sport.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

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