The 2021 Boys and Girls Division II All-Star Hockey roster is out, and this year, many of the state’s all-stars hail from Waterbury and the Mad River Valley. In a regular year, nominations to Vermont’s All-Star team would culminate in a Rotary All-Star Game that usually takes place in Essex, Vermont, in which Vermont’s best Division II hockey players get to play on the ice together. However, this year, due to the pandemic, nominations to the All-Star team are merely a symbol of success for the players.
Regarding Vermont’s female hockey players, coaches decided, based on lack of games due to shortened season, to let individual coaches nominate players from their teams instead of selecting an all-star team based on voting.
From Harwood, three girls were nominated to the all-star team by coach Mike Vasseur: senior defender Hailey Bricky, senior forward Amelia Nordle and sophomore forward Louisa Thomsen.
“The decision to nominate one player over another is actually one of the things I dislike about coaching,” coach Vasseur told The Valley Reporter about his nomination decisions.
Hailey Brickey was chosen because “she led the team with love,” said Vasseur. “She made sure everyone knew how important they were. She is an incredibly talented player, but it is really her positive leadership that stuck out this year.”
Amelia Nordle was chosen for her hard work on the ice. “She sacrificed every shift that she went out and led a line that had new players and did all this with just incredible intensity that was contagious for the rest of the team,” said Vasseur.
Louisa Thomsen was chosen because “she is just simply one of the best players in the state and works hard every shift,” said Vasseur. “Weezy (Thomsen’s nickname) also is an incredible person that treats her teammates with respect and kindness. She’s a natural leader with a fun positive attitude.”
All three all-star nominated players have one thing in common, according to their coach. “They show what I want my teams to be known for,” said Vasseur. “Hard work, respect and kindness.”
On the Harwood varsity boys’ hockey team, eight players, including five juniors, were selected for the all-star team. Unlike the girls’ all-star team, which was chosen with individual coach nominations, the boys’ all-star team was created after coaches from across the state collaborated to create the annual list of top standouts at every position on the ice.
The all-star first team selections from Harwood included junior forward Skylar Platt, defender junior Tyson Sylvia, and senior goalie Liam Guyette.
Harwood seniors Gavin Thomsen and Jonathan O’Brien made the honorable mentions list, along with junior teammates Tanner Woodard and Jacob Green.
Finn O’Hara named player of the year
Junior forward Finn O’Hara was both Harwood and Vermont’s top player this year, as O’Hara was named the Division 2 Player of the Year. Over the season, O’Hara scored a total of 16 goals and 10 assists in nine games. He’s scored 64 goals and 52 assists in his three-year high school hockey career thus far.
Speaking of O’Hara, coach Shawn Thompson said, “The thing about Finn is, he’s all out every shift and if he wants to take a puck away from someone, he will. He's powerful, he's tall, he's strong and he has a really hard short. And he's a smart player.”
In the championship game, which Harwood lost to Brattleboro 4-3, Thompson said that O’Hara “still looked like the best player on the ice.”
Thompson also had some thoughts to share regarding the boys’ last game of the season.
“Although the game did not turn out as we all hoped, it was not for lack of effort. In the first 2 minutes of the third period, the game quickly went from 2-1 to 4-1. A lot of teams would have thrown in the towel being down 4-1 with 13 minutes left in a game. But the boys showed us why we all believe in them and in the next 10 minutes, they battled back to make the score 4-3 with around 3 minutes to go. They worked hard to give themselves a chance to tie that game, left it all on the ice, and that's all I can ask of them,” said Thompson.
“As we all know, the season was quite a roller coaster,” Thompson continued. “We had plenty of adversity to battle through and I'm confident in saying that even during this very short season, we had a lot of character building and growth from everyone on the team. The boys all rallied around each other and made the team stronger as the season went on. It was a pleasure to coach such a talented and dedicated team. I am proud of what they accomplished as well as their growth throughout the season.”