BILLERICA – Last season was a unique one in many ways for the Shawsheen Tech/Bedford Girls Hockey team. First of all, of course, it was unique in the same way it was for every other team, with an abbreviated season, as well as some other rule changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other thing that was rather unique for the Rams was that they were able to experience some success on the ice. After struggling the previous two season to a 2-32-2 record, the Rams doubled that win total in just one abbreviated season, going 4-5 on the campaign, taking a positive step in the right direction for the program.
That Rams 4-5 record came under the direction of long time coach Bob Roach, who resigned prior to this season. Taking over for Roach will be Kate O’Shea, a 2015 graduate of Shawsheen Tech, and a four-year member of the varsity hockey team, who scored over 100 points in her career for the Rams.
O’Shea had been Roach’s assistant for the past two seasons. The leader behind the bench may have changed for the Rams, but the goal remains the same, as they will look to make another run at the .500 mark on the season.
“We had a good group of girls. We had some eighth graders and young players, along with some players with some good experience to go along with them,” O’Shea said. “So, we are hoping to build off last year. We lost a couple of girls, but we also had a lot of girls gain some valuable experience. We have a lot of girls this season with the mindset that we can qualify for the tournament. It is a hard working group right now, so hopefully we can bring that to the games as well.”
As O’Shea mentioned, the Rams did lose some key players, including three-year captain Emily Sartori of Tewksbury to graduation. The Rams also suffered a couple of other big losses, as both star eighth grade goalie Kaitlin Sacco as well as star forward and top scorer, freshman Isabella King, transferred to prep schools to continue their hockey and academic careers.
There is still plenty of reason for optimism for the Rams, however, as they bring back a talented group of players from last year’s squad, while they have also gotten an infusion of new talent with some new players who hope to contribute to another successful season for the Rams,
“We bring in some good freshmen who decided to play for the high school,” O’Shea said. “We have some players who have played for the East Coast Wizards and the Vipers, so we have some players who bring some good experience to the team.”
Along with the incoming freshmen, the Rams will also be looking for some of their veteran leaders to take their game to an even higher level, starting with their tri-captains, sophomore defenseman Laney Mead, junior defenseman/ forward Kelsey Giordano and senior forward Amber Hurley.
“Laney got some great experience or us last season. She is strong on the puck and she is always looking for a positive result,” O’Shea said. “She has a very hard and accurate shot from the point. If she doesn’t hit the net every time, she is mad at herself.”
Hurley and Giordano will provide not only leadership, but an offensive spark as well, although Giordano will begin her season on the blue line.
“Amber takes over for Emily at the center position. She played for the Wizards the whole off season, and she got stronger on the puck and really improved her game,” O’Shea said. “Kelsey has been kind of a floater for us, playing both defense and forward. The plan initially was to have her at forward, but we are going to have her at defense to start off. I think she will do well there for us.”
Another pair of returning players for the Rams will be senior forward Ashley Talbot of Tewksbury, as well as sophomore forward Paige Fuller of Wilmington.
“Ashley has been playing well. She is fighting for a spot on the second line. We ae hoping for a big senior season from her,” O’Shea said. ‘Paige has a hard shot and she will be part of a strong second line for us.”
The Rams will also be looking for contributions this season from freshmen defensemen Corrine Foley of Tewksbury and Alyssa Constantillo of Wilmington as well as freshmen forwards Mia Pace and Christina Tsoukalas. Sophomores who will be helping the Rams cause include forward Alexis Fox of Wilmington, as well as fellow forwards Charlotte Dreyfus, Jane Stewart and Anna Mceachern, along with defenseman Healy Weisman.
The Rams do suffer a tough loss in net with the departure of Sacco, but sophomore goalie Elianna Munroe saw a lot of playing time last season for the Rams and proved herself to be very capable between the pipes. O’Shea is looking for her to build on her promising freshman campaign.
“Elianna has been doing a good job for us,” O’Shea said. “She worked hard in the off season and she already looks better than last season.”
O’Shea knows that her first season as head coach will be challenge as the Rams try to build on last season’s success, but she is confident her team is headed in the right direction.
“I feel like we are off to a good start and we are prepped and ready for the start of the season,” O’Shea said. “We are picking up the pace of the game and the girls are ready to take off.”
The Rams opened the season with a couple of lopsided defeats, losing to Beverly 8-1 and Winthrop 10-1.