Wilton girls hockey team aims for turnaround
Even though his team won only two games last season, Pete Maxfield is not being far-fetched when he talks about goals for the 2019-20 season.
“We want to make the FCIAC and state playoffs,” said Maxfield, the head coach of the Wilton-Norwalk-Brien McMahon girls hockey combined team. “I really think we can make a run at both.”
Maxfield’s optimism is based on the return of most of his team’s top players and an influx of skilled newcomers.
“We have a bunch of new players (six freshmen and a sophomore) who all play travel hockey,” Maxfield said. “They are going to make a huge difference. We have a lot more depth and hockey experience.”
Senior Meghan Lane will once again center Wilton’s top line. Lane scored 42 goals and added 17 assists last season and now has 150 career points.
“I’ve never seen a player so driven to score,” Maxfield said about Lane, who made the All-FCIAC second team. “There’s not much not to like about her game.”
Also back is senior winger Caitlyn Hocker, who has played on a line with Lane the last several seasons. Hocker had 10 goals and 25 assists in 2018-19.
“Caitlyn is a solid all-around player,” Maxfield said. “She will do whatever we ask of her. She is strong in all areas.”
Junior Holly Corper (six goals, 11 assists) played with Lane and Hocker on Wilton’s top line last season and could return in that role or be used on another unit. “Holly has made a big improvement from last year to this year,” Maxfield said. “She’s a solid all-around skater who has a nose for the net.”
Returning juniors Rachel Calabrese, Emmy Castano and Rachel Slater are also part of Wilton’s forward group, while talented freshmen Kaelin Burke, Isabel DiNanno, Jane Hulse, and Ella Noonan are also ready to contribute up front.
“We should be able to run three lines,” Maxfield said. “That will be a big help.”
Senior Grace DeCesare is Wilton’s top returnee on defense. “We’re looking for her to anchor the defense and be our leader back there,” Maxfield said about DeCesare.
Sophomore Alex Cullen is also back on defense, and junior Sophia Savage has joined the backline after playing at forward last season.
Three newcomers — sophomore Natalie Richardson and freshmen Emma Oliveri and Leila Stacy — will bolster the defense.
“We have some skill and depth there now,” Maxfield said. “I feel good about our defense going into the season.”
Junior Erin McMorris is the starting goalie, backed by sophomore Emily Johnson. McMorris and Johnson were both playing the position for the first time last year.
“That was our biggest challenge, having two goalies with no previous experience,” Maxfield said. “But Erin and Emily have shown good improvement, so I have a lot more confidence now.”
Notes: Hocker and Lane are Wilton’s captains, with Corper and DeCesare serving as alternate captains.
Beginning this season, Wilton will play its home games at the Winter Garden Ice Arena in Ridgefield. The Warriors had been playing at the SoNo Ice House in Norwalk. The team will have its own locker room under the bleachers at the Winter Garden.
Wilton is scheduled to open the season Dec. 11 (7:50 p.m.) against Stamford at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford.