While the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team has established itself as a solid program, Lorna Gifis Cook is setting the bar higher for her squad this winter.
“I think we can be in the top four of WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic),” said Cook, who guided the Panthers to a 10-8 record last year, the team’s second straight 10-win season. “The girls always work hard, the focus needs to be there.”
Cook is expecting to get some good work from a pair of senior forwards, Mimi Mathews (2 goals and 9 assists in 2012-13) and Mary Travers (10 goals, 5 assists).
“We are fortunate to have Mimi back at forward; she gives us a lot of speed and has good instincts,” said Cook, whose team starts its 2013-14 campaign with a game at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosts its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8.
“Mimi and Mary go out there and work hard. They have a good read of each other on the ice. They shoot to score and they have good habits when they enter the offensive zone.”
Senior Colby Triolo is emerging as a force in the offensive zone for the Panthers.
“Colby is looking good,” said Cook of Triolo, who tallied four goals and seven assists last winter. “We moved her from defense to offense last year and she did well. It looks like she picked up where she left off.”
The trio of sophomore Emma Stillwaggon, freshman Daphne Stanton, and junior Carly King figures to pick up some points for PDS.
“Emma looks a lot better, she runs cross country and that has her in better condition,” said Cook, who will also use junior Sophie Ward, junior Sophie Jensen, and senior Abby Sharer at forward.
“She is a grinder and creates chances for her linemates. Daphne has looked really strong; positionally she is sound. I think she is going to give us reliability. Carly definitely improved over the course of the season. She is competitive on the ice and she makes sure that everyone is going to have fun.”
One of PDS top competitors is senior captain and star defenseman Robin Linzmayer. “Robin has a lot of speed; she can recover quickly in the defensive zone,” said Cook of Linzmayer, an All-WIHLMA performer last winter who led PDS in scoring with 19 goals and seven assists.
“She has a great shot and has done a good job of keeping it low. She plays offense for her club team. She always plays hard.”
A pair of freshmen, Christi Serafin and Ashley Cavuto, should make an immediate impact for the Panthers along the blue line.
“The girls are definitely impressed with Christi, they think she is going to be a star in the league,” said Cook, who will also be using sophomore Caroline Okun at defense.
“She has so much potential. There are things we can work on with her but her instincts are so good. Ashley will sneak up on you. She is not flashy but she is consistent. She has a really good shot. I have seen in practice that she can put it on the corners. She is excited about playing defense.”
Cook is excited about her goalie tandem of junior Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] and freshman Annika Asplundh.
“Katie has really been impressive so far, she is much improved over last season,” said Cook.
“The girls are talking about it and I think it has given her confidence. She is more sure of herself. Annika plays on a boys’ club team so she will need to make an adjustment to the girls’ game. I think it is going to be a really good thing to have two goalies competing for ice time. They are both committed to being there and it helps our practices.”
In Cook’s view, a commitment to scoring goals combined with a growing team chemistry could make PDS a force this winter.
“With our defense being solid, it will be a matter of how productive our forwards can be,” said Cook.
“The girls have fun with each other, they already seem to becoming a close team.”