St. Dominic Academy’s Kristina Cornelio fires the puck into the net past Greely goalie Nica Todd during their game in Auburn in February.
United States Hockey Hall of Famer and 1998 gold-medal winning Olympian Gretchen Ulion-Silverman, the head girls hockey coach at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, said she wants to “keep the Maine pipeline going.”
After Bangor twins Ally Trimper and Morgan Trimper transferred to Taft from Bangor High School last year, the Taft coach will add Old Town defender Olivia King and Saint Dominic Academy’s 55-goal scorer Kristina Cornelio next season.
King, 16, played a regular shift for 16-3-2 Old Town-Orono last season. The Black Bears reached the Class B North final where they lost to defending state champ Waterville 6-5 in overtime.
Cornelio led St. Dom’s to an undefeated season and a second straight girls’ state championship.
“I’m excited. I always wanted to go to prep school and I had reached out to a couple of prep schools and asked them to come watch me play,” King, who is also an outstanding field hockey player, said. “When I visited Taft, it was an awesome school. The Trimpers were there and there were a few other people I knew who had gone there and they told me how good it was.”
One of those people was former Colby College player Katie McLaughlin of Glenburn, who played at Brewer before attending Taft. McLaughlin’s sister, Mikayla, attended Kent School in Connecticut before joining her at Colby.
King said playing on the Old Town-Orono boys’ team was fun and the “high-intensity games” proved to be a valuable learning tool.
“It was a really good experience,” said King who, like the Trimpers, will repeat her sophomore year and spend three years at Taft.
“It’s a great move for her,” Old Town-Orono coach Denis Collins said. “She is a very sound skater, she has very good puck management skills, and she never panics. She never shied away from hitting. She has good hands, she’s a very good passer, and she is dedicated. She loves the game.”
“She is a really smart player and has a lot of natural talent. I’m really excited to work with her and Kristina,” said Silverman, who expects Cornelio to “contribute a lot offensively.”
Silverman said she has been impressed with the work ethic and passion for the game exhibited by Maine players.
The Trimper sisters, King and Cornelio have played together in the past.
“Olivia will be a great addition to our team,” Morgan Trimper said. “She will be a real strong contributor on defense. She is cool and collected with the puck and really makes good decisions.”
“Olivia is going to fit in well. She will add something on defense,” Ally Trimper said.
The Trimpers, daughters of former UMaine baseball coach Steve Trimper and his wife, Lisa, said they both thoroughly enjoyed their first year at Taft but admitted that there is a big adjustment from playing on a boys’ high school team to a girls’ prep school team.
For example, there is no body checking in girls hockey.
“There’s a lot more thinking because you’re able to hold onto the puck longer. You have to get rid of it faster in the boys’ game,” Ally said.
“The girls’ game is more strategic. You have to make sure your passes are precise,” Morgan said.
The physical play is much more toned down in girls hockey and, as a result, the Trimper girls took a lot of penalties especially early in the season.
“It was a bit of an issue for us,” Morgan said. “You have to check through the hands and rub people off rather than body check them.”
Players are encouraged to play multiple sports, and they will play field hockey and softball in addition to hockey. The Trimpers also played soccer and softball, but they will give up soccer this fall to focus on strength and conditioning training.
The Trimper girls said they were well-prepared academically and athletically at Bangor High.
“We always pushed each other to be as fast and as strong as the boys,” Morgan said. “All of our coaches and teammates really helped us.”
The players are on the Connecticut Junior Eagles travel hockey team this summer.