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One Skate at a Time: Hartford Girls Undergo Rebuilding Process

  • Bill Goldsworthy, head coach at Hartford high school, talks to players after the second period during the game against Woodstock on Jan. 24, 2018, at Wendall A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt. The Wasps beat the Hurricanes, 7-1. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock High forward Lauren Forgione (10) takes the puck up the ice during the game against Hartford on Jan. 24, 2018, at Wendall A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt. The Wasps beat the Hurricanes, 7-1. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock High's forward Anna Hepler (2) looks to pass during the game against Hartford on Jan. 24, 2018, at Wendall A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt. The Wasps beat the Hurricanes, 7-1. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bill Goldsworthy, head coach at Hartford high school, talks to players after coming off the ice on Jan. 24, 2018, at Wendall A. Barwood Arena in White River Junction, Vt.The Wasps beat the Hurricanes, 7-1. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

White River Junction — Bill Goldsworthy has spent his first season as head coach of the Hartford High girls hockey team rarely looking at the scoreboard.

A 7-1 loss to up-and-coming Woodstock on Wednesday night at Wendell A. Barwood Arena did not necessarily come as a surprise; his team is now 1-7-1 and has been outscored, 66-13, this season. But Goldsworthy sees improvement in the details of his team’s game, the first steps of what the Hurricanes’ coach expects to be a multi-year project to rebuild its standing within the state.

It helps, he said, to stay positive.

“The girls are gaining confidence with the puck and with their abilities. It’s been a while coming,” Goldsworthy said. “In the beginning of the season, we were playing whack-a-puck, where the puck was kind of a hot potato. Now, we look up. They’re learning to pick their heads up and move. ... I’m very pleased.

“We knew we had some obstacles to overcome,” he added. “The girls have just been extremely positive.”

It wasn’t so long ago that Woodstock, 8-3-1 overall and winner of its last five games, was where Goldsworthy and the Hurricanes are now: struggling to score, trying to find a win. The program went three seasons without a victory before breaking through in 2016-17 and has slowly grown into one of the top VPA Division II teams.

Having learned to win, the Wasps are now learning how to be great.

“We had a rough game last game,” Woodstock senior captain Lauren Forgione said in reference to a 3-0 win over Harwood last Saturday. “Our heads weren’t there. But we had a lot of energy this game. We were very excited, and I think we applied that.”

Forgione provided two goals and an assist, including an unassisted tally with 7 minutes, 2 seconds left in the first period to open the scoring. Faye Stevens, Khara Brettell, Anna Hepler, Liz Currier and Audrey Eggum also scored for Woodstock. Goaltender Ellie Stedina made eight saves.

Hartford’s score came with 3:49 remaining in the second, the result of an offensive zone faceoff win that created a scramble in front of Stedina that the Canes’ Emily Ballou finished off. It was Ballou’s first goal of the season, assisted by Morgan Pero and Kendyl Boisvert, and was the Hurricanes’ first goal of the new year following a four-game scoreless drought. Hartford’s last goal came in a 6-5 win over Harwood on Dec. 30.

“It’s been one of the oddest seasons I’ve ever had where, if something goes bad, you don’t get breaks,” Goldsworthy said. “We’ve had some really weird goals scored against us, too.”

Hartford’s skipper added that he feels good about his team’s younger athletes. Freshman Zoey Pfeiffer, who hadn’t put on skates until the beginning of training camp, stopped 12 shots in the first two periods of what was largely a game of keepaway deep in Hartford’s defensive zone. He also praised Boisvert and freshmen Brooke Shambo and Ryelee Potwin for the progress they’ve made.

“At the start of the season, I had five or six players that were almost pushing milk crates around,” Goldsworthy said. “Tonight, some of them stepped up and played some minutes.”

But it was difficult to keep up with Woodstock’s speed. The Wasps, who have received balanced scoring from their top two lines this season, scored three of their seven goals on Hartford defensive breakdowns in transition. The others were after sustained pressure in the offensive zone.

“I think we all know how to work well together,” Forgione said. “I’ve been playing with my line (Hepler and Hannah Coates) every year. We know where to pass.”

Woodstock’s offense was a question mark coming into the season, having lost last year’s top scorer, Sadie Kuhn, to the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt.

But the Wasps have shared the responsibility of filling that void; five Woodstock players have double-digit points through the team’s first 12 games.

“A lot of people have stepped up,” Woodstock head coach Ian Coates said. “We can play more of a team game. We’re moving the puck around really well. ... I think, last year, we probably could have seen more (balanced scoring), but the fact is we got a bunch of new girls that joined the team this year that really accentuate really good team play.

“Without Sadie here,” he added. “There’s a lot of confidence in that room.”

For the Wasps’ fifth-year coach, getting to the next level is a question of player development and a sustained presence in the postseason conversation. That begins this winter, with a team and a program seemingly on the cusp of breaking through.

“We can play a good team game, which we do. But it comes down to getting more players that can play at a high level,” he said. “We play really well as a team, and we have some really good players, but what sets apart those teams up there is that they have one or two elite players. We’ve some girls that are pretty close.”

Both teams pick back up on Saturday, with Woodstock hosting North Country-Lyndon at Union Arena and the Hurricanes traveling to Harwood.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.