Girls hockey: WHS nips Trumbull in final game for seniors, coach

The Wilton-Norwalk High girls hockey team ended the season on a high note last Saturday with a 4-3 win over Trumbull at SoNo Ice House.

But the Warriors also said good-bye to seven seniors and, as things turned out, head coach Melissa Hawkins.

The coach, who took over the duties last season, is stepping down to focus her efforts on being director of the new Connecticut Oilers women’s hockey program.

The Oilers, who have an established junior hockey men’s program based at SoNo Ice House, will offer three elite AA tier girls hockey teams in the U12, U14 and U19 age groups.

Hawkins said it the best decision for her at the time, but doesn’t rule out the possibility of coaching high school hockey again. WHS assistant coach Marie Pescatore is also leaving to help out with the Oilers program.

In her first season last year, Hawkins guided Wilton-Norwalk to its second FCIAC playoff berth in program history, and 9-9-1 record. The team lost its top line and top defenseman, however, and struggled through a 3-16-1 season this year.

Hawkins said that while last year’s squad relied mostly on the scoring punch of the first line, this year needed a more balanced, team effort.

She praised the leadership of the seniors — captains Amanda D’Arbanville and Caroline Costello, along with Monica Prario, Caroline Coupe, Shannon Wolpiuk, Jennifer Hojnacki and Vivian Hong.

“The seniors for the most part did a good job of leading. The captains, they helped the coaches through some tough things,” she said.

Coupe, she noted, was normally a forward but moved back to defense this season to help out and “was one of my best defensemen.”

In the season’s final game, the Warriors jumped out to a 2-1 lead over Trumbull on first-period goals by Molly Thomas and Elizabeth Craven, and notched two more goals in the second period, by Wolpiuk and Izzy Thelen, to go up 4-2.

Trumbull scored on a penalty shot in the final minute that cut the lead to 4-3.

“We dominated pretty well,” Hawkins said of the win. “They came out hungry and came out to win, and did it for the seniors.”