By BRIAN JENNINGS
After spending so many hours playing with her brother in the backyard and joining many different junior boys and girls teams throughout her childhood, Abby Lamson’s dedication to the game of ice hockey is starting to pay off. However, her career in ice hockey is not exactly where she wants it to be just yet.
Now in her junior year at Southington High School, Lamson didn’t enter with the ease of most other freshmen. She had a difficult choice to make, and that choice came between playing prep school ice hockey and Southington softball.
Southington coach Davina Hernandez played a critical role in Lamson’s decision because there simply aren’t many programs in the state like Southington’s softball program.
“When I was going into my freshman year, the softball team was coming off their three-peat,” said Lamson. “That was definitely a big thing for me because I wanted to be a part of that.”
But she held on to her first love of ice hockey, and there was still a chance that she could play both sports if she attended Southington.
“We’ve been trying to get this program up and running for the past two years, and I just thought we were going to have a good shot at it, based on the numbers aspect of it throughout my years of high school,” said Lamson. “I felt that playing in my town and for my school would mean more to me than going to another school.”
Southington’s and Avon’s boards of education voted to join together to form a girls co-op ice hockey club team back in late February, with Avon acting as the host of the co-op team. East Granby and RHAM also joined the co-op team, and they go by the Nighthawks.
The Nighthawks have played three games thus far on the season and are currently 1-2. As a defenseman, Lamson assisted Avon’s sophomore Sarah Murphy with the team’s lone goal of the game early in the second period of the co-op team’s first game, which resulted in a 5-1 loss at Hall-Conard.
The Nighthawks earned their first win of the season a week later with a 2-0 shutout at Stamford-Westhill-Staples-Trinity Catholic. Lamson scored one of the game’s two goals towards the end of the second period.
In their third-straight road game, the Nighthawks dropped their second loss of the season after falling, 4-2, at Suffield-Enfield-Housatonic Valley-Ellington-MLC in their most recent contest on Saturday, Dec. 16. Again, Lamson had her hand in the team’s scoring with a goal that came on an intercepted pass with about 30 seconds left in the game.
When asked what she thought her greatest assets or skills on the ice, Lamson chuckled and she said she hoped her slap shot has improved. But on a serious note, Lamson has a good sense of team when she plays and couldn’t have contributed the way she did through the first three games without her teammates.
“I’m not a selfish player,” said Lamson. “You can probably catch me passing every time I get a chance because I just think it’s a better to get my teammates to score. We’ll have more opportunities if we’re moving the puck around.”
Lamson has been playing on this team since she came in as a freshman and said that she has enjoyed the fact that all the returners have had a good chance to connect with one another a lot more. She said that the greatest attributes and qualities of this team is their potential to work hard.
“When we do that, we’re good,” said Lamson. “If we really put our minds to it and work, I think we’ll get those positive outcomes and wins. As long as we’re trying and giving it our all in games, I’ll be okay with that.”
Although the Nighthawks are governed by the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) as a club team and not sanctioned by the CIAC, Lamson said that being governed by the SCC would give them the chance to be more recognized as a team this season.
“Last year, some schools didn’t really think of us as being true competition,” said Lamson. “Having the SCC back us has made a big difference on our team believing that we’re a true competitor against them.”
As one of her personal goals, Lamson said she hopes the co-op team will be sanctioned by the CIAC before she graduates high school.
“Taking the next step in the future would be such a big thing, not only for the town, but for the state, as the sport grows,” said Lamson. “I grew up around hockey and always knew boys hockey, but I would love girls hockey to be up there and equal.”
The Nighthawks will be back on the ice this week when they host Simsbury (1-2) in their home opener on Thursday, Dec. 21. The Nighthawks still have a long way to go, but Lamson said that she hopes the team continues to work hard.
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