The BFA-St. Albans and Essex girls’ hockey programs have developed a strong rivalry since the sport was recognized by the Vermont Principals’ Association.
The Comets won eight of the first 10 titles to become the juggernaut of girls hockey in the state of Vermont.
However, the Hornets have started to make a name for themselves catching up with the Comets winning the past three titles, including a 2-0 win over the Comets in last year’s finals.
The Comets and Hornets seasons have ended at the hands of one another in the last five postseasons with Essex holding a 4-1 advantage in that time.
BFA is hungry to get back to the top of the totem pole and take back the title they owned in the early 2000s.
“Keys to team success revolve around our effort and attitude,” said BFA coach Luke Ciofii, who is entering his 17th season with the program. “We need to be working to improve our individual skills everyday so that team goals may be reached. We need to push each other on and off the ice to be adaptable as we strive to get better throughout the season. And our team speed and ability to play at both ends of the ice are critical.”
Now the Comets are looking to improve from their 10-9-1 record from a year ago and make it back to the championship game.
The team will be led by a strong cast of seniors including forward Emma Hill, goalie Gabbi Metz, forward Georgia Babb and forward Kait Laroe.
“Emma has strong offensive and defensive skills and is a passionate working individual,” said Cioffi. “Metz has a great work ethic and no-nonsense attitude that needs to be share with the entire team.
“Georgia had a solid junior year where she contributed a lot of points to the offensive categories and her desire to improve and get the puck to the net in the offensive zone will be important for us to win games this year,” he added. “And Kait is a very skilled, speedy forward with the ability to score a lot of goals. She is capable of playing this game at a very high speed and needs to use that speed to help us set the tempo.”
Molly Marshall is the only junior on the team and will lead the defense this season.
“Molly has continued to grow as a leader on the team this year,” said Cioffi. “She has already been playing with more confidence this preseason.”
BFA is in the heart of its preseason already with a couple of out-of-state scrimmages under its belt.
Last week, they traveled to New York to take on Potsdam and Massena, not keeping score in either game, but just using the scrimmages to see what combinations worked best.
“We are at the point of seeing how the new players are adjusting to the high school level and how we can best utilize individuals,” said Cioffi. “I thought in the scrimmages, the girls implemented the systems we were focusing on pretty well and were very accepting of tweaking things. We had some nice puck movement, as well as movement without the puck. One thing we do need to focus on is being more disciplined and tough to play against in the defensive zone.”
One of the things that sets the Comets and Hornets above other teams is their willingness to get out of state opponents on their regular-season schedule to get tested by the best teams in other states.
Some opponents the Comets will face this season are Beekmantown, N.Y., Hanover, N.H. and other teams throughout the season.
The different challenges of facing these teams are what pushes the Comets year in and year out.
“Playing the teams from New York and New Hampshire gives us an opportunity to see teams other than the Vermont teams we see at least two times during the season,” said Cioffi. “The competitiveness of these teams gives us an immediate indicator of our ability to play at a high level. In the long run, playing these competitive games early sets our expectations and attitude from day one.”
The matchup with Essex is one everyone is circling on their calendar, but there are a few other teams around the state Cioffi said could open some eyes this season.
“Rutland will be pretty good this year with a couple of good goalies and return most of their team that steadily improved all season,” he said. “Middlebury will be tough again and Northfield could be competitive as well.”
The Comets will kick off the regular season when they host the Christi Corrigan Blitz Tournament at Collins Perley on December, 9. The Comets will play Massena, N.Y. with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
2016-17 Comets Roster
No. Name Grade Pos.
2 Chloe Rouleau 9 F
3 Mckenna Remillard 10 F
4 Molly Marshall 11 D
5 Linsey Larrow 10 D
6 Hailey Savage 9 D
7 Kamren Dukas 12 F
8 Presley Boyce 10 D
9 Georgia Babb 12 F
10 Lizzie Hill 10 F
11 Carolyn Perry 9 F
12 Meghan Connor 9 F
13 Kaylee O’Brien 12 F
15 Shea Dukas 12 F
16 Peyton Dukas 10 F/D
17 Emma Hill 12 F
18 Kait Laroe 12 F
19 Jessie Casey 12 F
20 Julia Ellis 10 D
23 Elizabeth Dukas 10 D
30 Madeleine Hungerford 9 G
31 Gabbi Metz 12 G
Coaches: Luke Cioffi, Jeff Rouleau, Roxanne Douville-Handy, Kristin Viens, Caitlin Manahan
Managers: Meghan Wood, Marissa Needleman, Jessica Giroux, Olivia Beauregard