W ith Cassie Craig on defense and Erin Dwyer fueling the offense, a young Archbishop Williams girls’ hockey team hopes to make a long tournament run this season.
When they’re not sporting their navy blue helmets and gold-and-white jerseys, members of the team wear a variety of colorful and exotic winter hats to keep themselves warm during the freezing season. If the Bishops win, even coach Mark McHale gets into the act.
“I had a hat on when I came out here one of the cold days,’’ said McHale. “One of my players said, ‘Coach, I have a better hat.’ I said, ‘The only way I’m wearing that hat is if we win.’ We won, so the next day at practice I wore the hat. They were all happy. . . . It worked out.’’
The Bishops keep a positive and fun attitude during their long, demanding season. This year’s youthful squad is the most talented in the Braintree school’s history. The Bishops are hoping to make a long tournament run this year.
So far the hard work and high spirits have paid off. Coming off a 2-18 finish last season, Williams has so far defeated tough teams such as Notre Dame Academy and Ursuline Academy, and rose to 4-1 with a 3-0 shutout of Norwell.
Craig anchors the defense. The senior’s speed and puck handling skills make it difficult for forwards to get by her.
McHale said Craig is an all-around leader.
“On and off the ice, she’s a great kid,’’ he said. “She’s upbeat in the locker room and helps her teammates out on the ice. She’s all around my most skilled player here.
“Cassie sees all the ice. She’s like the quarterback,’’ he said. “She’s a solid player when she brings the puck up and when she dishes it out. She’s not a selfish player. She gets the job done.’’
Craig said she has high hopes for her senior season.
“This year we’re a lot stronger. I can depend on my teammates more,’’ said the 5-foot-2-inch Craig. “A lot of girls are so young, so they need to get used to playing with girls that are seniors. All the girls on our team stepped up real quick.’’
The Bishops have three new faces this year, freshmen Keira Dwyer, Nora Maclaine, and Gen Grasso.
Dywer joins her older sister, junior captain Erin Dwyer, along with sophomore Kerri Bemis, to make up the second line.
“The three new freshmen are really good,’’ said Erin Dwyer. “I like having [Kiera] on the team. We’ve been playing together our whole life, so now we get to play on the same line for high school. We jell well together on the ice.’’
The Dywer duo went to work last week against Norwell, keeping the puck in the attack zone the majority of the game. Speedy Erin launched a goal over the Norwell goalie’s glove to put Williams up, 3-0, in the third period.
“They work well together,’’ said Craig of the sisters. “They skate exactly alike. They always know where each other is at.’’
“Erin is my go-to kid,’’ said McHale. “She makes that line go. They stay up with her. They have to keep up with her speed.’’
Senior captain Michaela Hanson joins Craig on defense. Hanson returned to the ice last week after missing the first three games because of a broken nose she suffered during a powder puff football game.
The program has called three rinks its home, splitting time between ice in Dorchester, Brockton, and Randolph. Now the girls’ home rink is solely the Zapustas Ice Arena in Randolph.
However, next week, the girls will be privileged to call another rink home: They will play Mount St. Joseph’s Thursday at noon on the ice at Frozen Fenway Park.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to do it this year, especially since we have a stronger team than in years past,’’ said Hanson. “It’s my senior year, so I’m going to remember it forever.’’
Dwyer said skating at Fenway will be the highlight of her high school career. “We’re so excited. It’s going to be so much fun,’’ she added.
McHale said the school is 100 percent behind the girls’ hockey program. Unlike some teams that are forced to practice at 5 a.m., the Bishops skate after school at 3:40 p.m.
“Everyone gives us full support,’’ said the coach. “We get everything we need, we’re not shortchanged at all.
“We want to see this program succeed, and it’s going in the right direction.’’