Saturday was a special night for all the Missisquoi girls hockey team seniors, who were celebrating their Senior Night when the Thunderbirds hosted Woodstock.
It was an especially exciting and special night for senior Olivia Thayer, who entered the game needing three points to reach 100 career points.
Thayer finished the game with a goal and two assists with her second assist of the game coming three minutes into the third period to reach the milestone.
Thayer’s supporters were in full force throughout the game with the crowd cheering every time she touched the puck hoping to witness her reach the milestone.
Her grandparents were also in attendance with homemade signs reading “98”, “99” and “100” to show off as Thayer racked up the points. When she was still at 99 points, her grandfather started to show the “100” sign just a little to Thayer before a faceoff in the third period getting a smile out of the senior.
Shortly after, her assist on a goal to put the Thunderbirds up 4-1, which ended up being the final score, let her grandfather show off the “100” sign for good and send the team’s bench and the crowd into one big celebration.
“Tonight was very special, I had some family members come out and a lot of people came out tonight, so reaching this milestone at home, what more could you ask for?” said Thayer. “This is a milestone I never thought about reaching until now. It really adds a touch on my last year of high school hockey.”
It was almost a little anti-climactic when Thayer reached the 100-point mark. She was awarded the secondary assist on the goal by Adrianna Dostie, but it took the referees a little time to reveal who came away with the assists.
With the Thunderbirds near their bench waiting for confirmation, they finally heard the official say the secondary assist “Goes to No. 12” sending Thayer’s teammates to surround her to celebrate.
“I was just trying to keep calm when we were waiting to find out, because I didn’t want to start celebrating and then realize I didn’t get it,” she said. “It was really exciting to hear them say I got the assist.”
Thayer is the sixth player in the program history to come away with 100 points in the career. The list includes Katie Campbell, Riley Fontaine, Erin McDonald, Norma Fleming and Adrienne Fleming.
“Woodstock is a very good team, so I was a little nervous, because not many teams put up three goals on them let alone one player getting three points,” said Missisquoi coach Wynn Paradee. “But I’m very proud of her that she was able to reach that milestone and you could tell her teammates were really pulling for her to get there tonight as well.”
Thayer might not be the loudest or most vocal player out on the ice, but her play on the ice and leading by example is the epitome of actions speaking louder than words.
“She’s a quiet person who goes about her business and will always give her best,” said said. “She’s been great with the younger players and never put herself above them. She has always led by example and I think the other players look and see what she does on the ice, the effort she gives, and they pick their game up seeing that.”
Not only does Paradee see that in Thayer, but her teammates do as well.
“I’ve learned a lot from Olivia and she’s boosted up my confidence a lot playing at the varsity level with her over the past three years,” said junior Alyssa Audet. “She’s a lot of fun to watch out there because she has so much talent. She very confident with the puck, always knows where to be and takes advantage of any opportunity given to her. She’s a very uplifting teammate.”
It’s been quite the journey for Thayer in her hockey career since she has started playing when she was 10-years-old.
She came up through the Missisquoi Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) and played defense until she got to high school when she was converted to center.
Her time spent through the MAHA program set her up to be in a good position to make an instant impact at the varsity level when she got to high school.
In her first year with the Thunderbirds, Thayer tallied 13 points with nine goals and four assists.
“She came in with three other freshmen and was the most ready to compete at the high school level,” said Paradee. “We only won four games that year, but she was thrown right into the frying pan and she matured very quickly and she saw a lot of ice time that year.”
Despite the 13 points as only a freshman, Thayer knew she would have to continue to work to improve her skill set and her confidence.
Both have paid off in spades as the years have gone up and her numbers continue to go up.
“When I joined MVU hockey as a ninth grader, I was a completely different hockey player and person,” said Thayer. “Back then, I didn’t have the confidence that I have now, but that has increased over the years as well as my skillset. My teammates over the years, especially the upperclassmen ahead of me, is where I got my confidence and drive to be better.”
From there, Thayer continued to improve throughout her sophomore and junior years. She finished her sophomore year with 27 points on 12 goals and 15 assists and her junior year with 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists).
This year, she erupted in the goal department with 24 and added 12 assists, which has helped set the tone for the offense for the team this season.
It’s been a year to remember for Thayer, as she tries to lead the Thunderbirds into a deep postseason run with her best season of her high school career.
The Thunderbirds finished the season 13-5-2 with the win Saturday, which has them sitting behind Rice in the top spot and Woodstock in second.
“This is a great win to really build some momentum going into the playoffs,” she said. “Hopefully we can build off this and keep things going when playoffs start next week.”
One of the people Thayer has looked up to the most throughout her hockey career was fellow Thunderbird Caleb Lothian, who is currently in his senior season for the St. Michael’s men’s hockey team. He played three years for Missisquoi before playing a year of prep hockey for Rice during his senior season.
Lothian was one of the reasons Thayer started to pick up hockey and one of her biggest influences throughout her career and one of the reasons she is motivated to continue her athletic career at the next level. She has already been accepted to Franklin Pierce University and Castleton University.
“Caleb’s family and mine have been very close since I can remember and it was actually him and his mother, Tina, were the reason my sister and I started to play hockey,” said Thayer. “I looked up to what a good hockey player he was and going to his games and thinking I will be out there playing high school hockey one day. Now that he is playing at St. Michael’s, it’s given me the motivation to continue my career and possibly play college hockey or softball for.”
The Thunderbirds will begin their postseason next week and looks like they are lining up as the No. 3 seed.
After reaching 100 points, now Thayer can just focus on the games and not have the extra pressure of worrying about the milestone anymore.
“There was definitely some pressure, but good pressure,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to have everyone that came up to help me celebrate this and feel a lot better now that I got it, and now hopefully our team can make a deep run in the playoffs.”
No matter what happens in the playoffs for the Thunderbirds this season, one thing is for sure: Olivia Thayer’s name will be forever enshrined on a short list of players to reach 100 points for the Missisquoi girls hockey program.