by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 12-5-2012
JAY — The 2012-2013 edition of the North Country Lady Falcons hockey team should prove an exciting one to watch this season. Asked to describe the greatest strength of this year’s squad, Assistant Coach Tom Bernier replied with a single word — “youth.”
“We only have three seniors and a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Mr. Bernier said at Monday night’s practice. “We’re a young team and we’re still growing.”
The team features several players from neighboring school districts, including juniors Corrina Cota and Taylor Morley from Lake Region Union High, and Emily Doty from Lyndon. That blending of players has proven both helpful and frustrating at times.
The bigger issue for head Coach Claude Paul and his staff is reconciling the varying skill levels of the players. While some have grown up with Border Hockey or came up through the Lyndon Area Youth Hockey Association, other players are hitting the ice for their first season of varsity hockey.
“What we don’t want to do is hold back the girls who have been on the ice eight to ten years, because they’ve already got the basics,” Mr. Bernier said. “At the same time, we have some girls new to the sport who need to learn the fundamentals. Some of them are even fairly new to skating.”
Entering her third year on the varsity roster, Ms. Cota has endured some difficult seasons as a Falcon. Throughout the team’s struggles, however, she has noticed that certain spark that suggests brighter days lie ahead.
“It’s been really exciting to see the team grow and develop over the years,” Ms. Cota said. “We keep getting better and our skills are growing stronger.”
Incorporating players from the far-flung corners of the Kingdom can be a difficult task. Just as in professional hockey, a team laden in talented players won’t automatically result in success if the team chemistry is absent. That hasn’t proven the case with the Falcons, Ms. Cota said.
“You have to get used to each other and the way we play,” she said. “But after a couple of weeks working together you get a feel for what they can do and what we can do as a team.”
A solid addition to the team comes in the form of Emily Doty from Lyndon Institute. Because Lyndon lacks the numbers to field a varsity team, Ms. Doty is playing her first season for the Falcons.
“If I wasn’t playing here I would probably be playing with the boys again this year,” Ms. Doty said, referring to last season’s play on LI’s boys’ varsity squad. “Playing with girls and against girls is going to take some getting used to.”
The biggest adjustment for Ms. Doty comes from the rules on contact in women’s hockey. Having played with boys, she reveled in the more physical aspects of the game.
“I’ve been trained to check, line guys up for a hit,” Ms. Doty said. “The first thing Coach Paul did was give me a page from the rule book telling me how to hit.”
Making that adjustment might run counter to the experience she gained last season, but will hardly influence how she approaches her first season with the Falcons. Her solid, two-way play should assist the Falcons on both sides of the ice.
Another key addition to the squad comes in the form of the team’s newest goalie — Mikaella Doran. Though new to the Falcons uniform, Ms. Doran comes with a lifetime of experience between the pipes.
“Having Mikaella is definitely going to help us both ways,” Mr. Bernier said. “Having that confidence in net is going to let us play a more offensive game. Her experience is going to help keep us in the game.”
The Lady Falcons start the season in earnest with a home game on Thursday, December 6, facing Woodstock at 5 p.m. at the Ice Haus in Jay.
contact Richard Creaser at email@example.com