SUMMIT, NJ - Owing to the rise in stature of the sport at the prep level and the continuing maturation of the Summit High School program, the Hilltopper Girls Ice Hockey Team enters the 2017-18 season -- its 10th Anniversary campaign -- as a founding member of a newly-formed division: the Morris Union Somerset County Hockey League (MUSCHL).
Joining Kent Place, Oak Knoll, and Westfield, Randolph and a combined Chatham / Madison team, the six-team League gives the Maroon and White something tangible to shoot for -- the first-ever MUSCHL crown -- an aspiration that Summit Head Coach Matthew Stanbro says is at the top of the list of the team's goals.
Stanbro, the only coach the program has ever known, has now been coaching long enough to see girls he has taught as a Fourth Grade teacher at Brayton Elementary School now enter the Hilltopper Ice Hockey program. He says every year the quality of the hockey players joining the program consistently improve, as has the competition. The speed and technical quality of the games continues to also rise proportionately, with Stanbro saying he has already -- just weeks into the season -- noticed a bump up from last year's pace.
Coming off the best year record-wise in its history at 15-4, the Hilltoppers are looking to added roster depth and infusion of young talent to compensate for the loss of several vital members of the Class of 2017 -- including Cecily Stabler, Shannon Groskoph, Delaney O'Dowd and Kira Ross -- whom collectively Stanbro notes were "a great group of leaders both on and off the ice."
Stepping in and stepping up are a solid group of now upper class contributors and leaders as well as a major infusion of new faces at key places, including significant roles for several sophomores and freshman. Summit will play each MUSCHL foe both home and away, and will also schedule several non-League match-ups.
A key ingredient to success will be the play of junior goaltender Julia Oppici in net who, after emerging as a freshman and becoming the starter last season as a sophomore, has according to Stanbro, "grown a lot and she is still learning."
In addition to senior Emma Wilde on defense, Stanbro also expects big contributions on the back line from juniors Sara Graham and Morgen Shung, and lauds the skill, work ethic and hockey sense of senior forward Emma Cahillane who Stanbro notes, "is always in the right spot on the ice."
A flood of talented freshman forwards -- among them Emily Sharpe, Maisie Hiltabrand, Caroline Sharpe and Grace Hannigan - will bolster the depth that includes seniors Amanda Michaels, Bella D'Ambrosi and juniors Grace Morrisey and Blakely McCann.
Team captains are Wilde, D'Ambrosi and Michaels.
As for the team's projected 'DNA', Stanbro likes "our jump, our aggressiveness," saying, "We want to be a team that is tough to play against. We are young, but we have talent across all grade levels and an experienced 'D'."
In assessing his team's goals, the coach notes, "Our girls take a lot of pride inn a being a Summit High School athlete. We want to win the inaugural League title."
Having began their season late last month, Summit is currently 1-3, having beaten Westfield 9-1 and the dropped consecutive narrow decisions to top-tier opponents Immaculate Heart, Pingry and Kent Place.
2017-18 Summit High School Girls Ice Hockey Team Roster
27 - Emma Cahillane, Senior - Forward
7 - Charlotte Cass, Senior - Defense
21 - Bella D'Ambrosi, Senior - Forward (C)
17 - Amanda Michaels, Senior - Forward (C)
8 - Emma Wilde, Senior - Defense (C)
2 - Grace Donohue, Junior - Forward
3 - Sara Graham, Junior - Defense
15 - Blakely McCann, Junior - Forward
13 - Grace Morrisey, Junior - Forward
20 - Isabel Olson, Junior - Defense
1 - Julia Oppici, Junior - Goaltender Julia
18 - Morgen Shung, Junior - Defense
16 - Nicole Fernandez, Sophomore - Forward
22- Lily Neilan, Sophomore - Forward
9 - Emily Sharpe, Freshman - Forward
28 - Skye Gilbert, Freshman - Defense
6 - Ellie Griffith, Freshman - Forward
25 - Grace Hannigan, Freshman - Forward
12 - Maisie Hiltabrand, Freshman - Forward
11- Regan McCann, Freshman - Forward
23 - Mackenzie O'Dowd, Freshman - Forward
9 - Caroline Sharpe, Freshman - Forward
(C) - denotes captain
Head Coach - Matthew Stanbro
Assistant Coach - Donna Groskoph
2017-18 Summit High School Girls Ice Hockey Team Schedule
Tuesday, Dec 12, 4:45 p.m., Away vs. Westfield - Warinanco Skating Center
Friday, Dec. 15 Tournament, Time TBD, Away vs. Princeton Day - Princeton Day School
Saturday, Dec 16 Tournament, Time TBD, Away vs. Princeton Day - Princeton Day School
Wednesday, Dec 20 5 p.m. Away vs. Princeton - Warinanco Skating Center - Home Game
Wednesday, Dec 27, 5 p.m., Away -- Alumni Game - Warinanco Skating Center
Friday, Jan 5, 6:15 p.m. Away vs. Immaculate Heart Academy - Warinanco Skating Center - Home Game
Sunday, Jan 7, 6:20 p.m., Kent Place - Bridgewater Sports Arena
Wednesday, Jan 10, 5 p.m., Away vs. Randolph - Warinanco Skating Center - Home Game
Friday, Jan 12, 2018, 4 p.m., Away vs. Oak Knoll - Dunellen Rock Ice
Wednesday, Jan 17, 4:45 p.m., Away vs. Randolph - Aspen Ice
Friday, Jan 19, 3:45 p.m., Away vs. Pingry - Bridgewater Sports Arena
Sunday, Jan 28, 4:45 p.m., Away vs. Oak Knoll - Dunellen Rock Ice
Tuesday, Jan 30, 6 p.m., Away vs. Princeton - Baker Rink (Princeton University)
Wednesday, Feb 7, 4:p.m., Away vs. Chatham - Mennen Sports Arena