Woodstock girls hockey buzzing toward history

  • Woodstock’s Sophia Yates (6) drives the puck down the ice while attempting to avoid Brattleboro’s Juliana Miskovich (18) during a game at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. VALLEY NEWS / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Woodstock goalie Meridian Bremel (29) blocks a shot on goal during a game against Brattleboro Union High School at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Woodstock’s Kassidy Haley (2) fights for the puck against Brattleboro’s Michaela Heiden (15) during a game at Union Arena in Woodstock, Vt., on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2022 9:40:07 PM
Modified: 1/27/2022 9:38:49 PM

WOODSTOCK — Everything has finally fallen into place for the Woodstock High girls hockey team.

There was a time when long losing streaks were the norm for the Wasps. But with Ian Coates now in his ninth season leading the program, those days are far in the past — and this year, Woodstock could be on the way to its first-ever state title.

“I had the sense going into the season that this was a special group,” Coates said. “I thought we were building last year, and it was kind of a stepping stone to this year. And sure enough, it’s a really good group that gets it, listens and understands. (They’re) able to do a lot of the concepts and things in practice that are showing up in our record now.”

The Wasps have started the season 10-0-0, and the victories have ranged from blowouts to nail-biters. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Coates era, when Woodstock was 0-16 in 2013-14 and 0-15-1 a year later. Since then, the Wasps have made the playoffs every season, reaching the finals for the first time in 2019.

In last year’s pandemic-shortened season, Woodstock was 6-1-0 in the regular season, but suffered a tough 1-0 loss in their first playoff game at Union Arena to Burr & Burton. With virtually the same group this season, the Wasps believe they have what it takes to bring the trophy home.

Junior Isabel Konijnenberg has been Woodstock’s best offensive player. Konijnenberg moved to Woodstock from Lexington, Mass., prior to her sophomore season, and she has fit right in, leading the Wasps with 12 points and eight goals last year. This season, she’s been even better, with 22 points on 12 goals and 10 assists through 10 games, including a four-goal performance in an 8-0 win over Stowe last Saturday.

“We’re really strong with getting the puck moving, and that’s a struggle for many high school teams,” Konijnenberg said. “It’s tough to translate what you do in practice to what you do in a game. That’s definitely a strength of ours, just moving the puck and utilizing every person on the ice.”

Konijnenberg has plenty of support offensively. Sophomore Gracelyn Laperle has eight goals and five assists so far, and her hat trick propelled Woodstock to a 5-2 victory over Brattleboro on Dec. 22. Skylar Haley, a senior co-captain, also has eight goals, and her sister, freshman Kassidy Haley, has seven.

Coates said the younger Haley, who played on the varsity team last year as an eighth grader, has the potential to become the first 100-point scorer in program history.

“It amazes me every time (Kassidy) goes out there,” Skylar Haley said. “She’ll skate past, like, four people and get to the net, and a goal will be generated.”

That offensive firepower is backed by a stellar defense that has allowed just 1.20 goals per game. Skylar Haley and junior Lily Gubbins have helped anchor that defense, and sophomore Meridian Bremel, the Wasps’ only goaltender, has turned in three straight shutouts. Bremel transferred last year from Burr & Burton when her father took a teaching position at Woodstock.

While the Wasps have won plenty of blowouts — four of their wins have come by at least a six-goal margin — they’ve played some close ones, too, scratching out a 2-1 victory at Rice on Dec. 20 and beating U-32 in a 6-5 barnburner on Jan. 15.

Coates knows Woodstock likely won’t be blowing anybody out come playoff time, but he’s used those tight games to highlight ways his team could get even better.

The boys hockey team won back-to-back state championships in 2018 and 2019, and these Wasps believe this year could be their turn to hang a girls hockey title banner inside Union Arena.

“There’s a couple games that could have gone the other way, but we’re trying to avoid that by playing solid hockey,” Coates said. “When we have everyone healthy and ready, we’re pretty dominant.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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