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Girls' Hockey: Lots of new faces, but Hanover still the top of the heap

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 10. 2017 3:11AM

Hanover's Catherine Wagner, left, and Briland Laycock celebrate a goal in last year's Division I girls' hockey final. Both players return for the defending champs, as does Exeter goalie Izzy Day, in net. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
The Scoop: Girls' hockey
Players to watch were determined after consultation with area coaches.

Players to watch: Izzy Day, junior, goalie, Exeter; Carissa Towlson, junior, forward, Exeter; Ashley Keaveney, senior, defenseman, Exeter; Briland Laycock, senior, forward, Hanover; Cate Wagner, senior, forward, Hanover, Hannah Curtis, senior, forward, Hanover; Macy Curtis, sophomore, forward, Hanover; Nikki Cayon, senior, goalie, Kingswood; Julia Ravanelle, senior, defenseman, Oyster River/Portsmouth; Sydney Herrington, senior, forward, Bishop Brady/Trinity/West; Lauren Trippiedi, sophomore, forward, Bishop Brady/Trinity/West; Makayla Lachance, senior, goalie, Souhegan; Emily Forward, junior, forward, Concord; Abby Corbett, sophomore, goalie, Concord; Abby Houle, senior, goalie, Bishop Guertin; Meredith Madden, senior, forward, Exeter

Notable quote: “Hanover is the class of the league and deservedly so. They're a model program for a reason.” - Exeter coach Geoff Taylor.

As eight-time defending champion Hanover prepares for the NHIAA girls' hockey season, coach John Dodds is excited about some of the new blood on his roster.

The Marauders graduated eight players from last year's team that defeated Exeter in the state championship game. Eleven of Hanover's 20 players this year are new to the program.

"We're a little bit younger experience-wise than most of our teams but the core is there," Dodds said. "We have three good defensemen that are all juniors and a group of forwards that can put the puck in the net."

With so many new faces, Dodds is expecting a lot from his only three seniors: captains Cate Wagner, Hannah Curtis and Briland Laycock.

"We've got three good athletes and good leaders and it's been fun to work with them and watch them develop their leadership skills over the years," Dodds said of his captains. "I think they'll make a big difference this year on and off the ice for us."

The Marauders might not have as many experienced players as they have enjoyed the past few seasons but they do have plenty of depth. Dodds can run four lines, though he said he will likely only utilize three of them during games, and three options at goalie.

"We have three inexperienced goalies," Dodds said. "That will really be one of our keys to the season is how quickly we get them up to speed and support them during games."

Among Hanover's biggest challengers for the state title this year will likely be Exeter, Berlin/Gorham and Concord. Oyster River/Portsmouth, Souhegan of Amherst and Bishop Brady/Trinity/West are among other teams that could factor into the championship hunt. The division will also feature two new programs in Bedford and St. Thomas/Winnacunnet.

Exeter has 20 skaters on its roster, including seven new players, and lost five from the squad that helped the Blue Hawks reach their first title game last year.

Senior captains Delaney Hyde, a forward, and Ashley Keaveney, a defenseman, and junior forward Carissa Towlson, who logged 73 points last year, are among Exeter's notable returners. The Blue Hawks also boast junior goalie Izzy Day, who was an All-State First Team selection last year.

"A strength of ours is Izzy Day in net," Exeter coach Geoff Taylor said. "She's an outstanding goalie and in the game of hockey, things can begin and end there."

In front of Day, the Blue Hawks will play an an aggressive, attacking style.

"We enjoy having the puck," Taylor said. "In all areas of the ice, our attitude is it's our job to win our puck back and enjoy having our puck....Our style is to be aggressive, pressure and win the puck and just distribute it and find good chances and try to put the pressure on the other team's net and will it into the other team's net."

Berlin/Gorham and Concord both reached the semifinals last year while Oyster River/Portsmouth and Bishop Brady/Trinity/West are coming off quarterfinal appearances.

First-year Berlin/Gorham coach Aisha-Rae Thompson will need to replace the production of graduated senior Rylie Bennett, who was the division's Player of the Year last season.

"You can always count on Berlin being competitive," Dodds said. "The lost a couple good players but they will probably dig up some new ones. They always seem to find a way."

Concord will be led by new coach Patrick McDonough. The Crimson Tide return junior forward Emily Forward, who was an All-State Honorable Mention last year, and will rely on sophomore Abby Corbett in goal.

"It looks like we have a really solid core of 10 players that really understand the game and will do a lot for us this year," McDonough said. "And we've got five more that I think are right there and with the right amount of determination, they can put themselves in position to help the team."

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