LEWISTON — She may be one of the youngest players on the team, but there’s no doubting that Sophia Goulet belongs.
Goulet recently completed her sophomore season as a defenseman for the St. Dom’s girls’ ice hockey team. Competitively, the fun was just beginning.
“It’s been a long season, but it’s been fun,” Goulet said.
Fun, and lucrative, in terms of hardware. Goulet skates for the Lady Breakers’ U-19 squad, which is made up mostly of girls from across the southern quarter of Maine. Goulet, of Lewiston, is the team’s northernmost representative.
That team, with an undefeated run at the New England Regional Championships, will represent the region at the USA Hockey Tier II National Championships in Lansing, Mich., next week.
“First we had to go through our own state, and we beat the Maine Freeze,” Goulet said. “At regionals the week after that, we went through and didn’t lose a game.”
Sweeter still, she said, was the fact that no one at the tourney expected the Maine entry to fare well, never mind win.
“To be the underdogs, which obviously we were, no one from Maine had ever won at the regionals in the tournament,” Goulet said. “When we’re on, we know we can beat every team out there.”
The Breakers are going to have to be “on” at nationals, a 12-team tourney featuring the best Tier II competition in the country. Despite pulling girls from across a diverse region with varying backgrounds in the sport, the Breakers have quickly developed a bond.
“When you play on teams that travel, there are always girls that come from all over,” Goulet said. “You get to know the girls from playing with them and against them in different tournaments. There were a few girls I’d played with before on this team.”
Being on an elite team has allowed Goulet to hone some skills, particularly on defense, that she doesn’t necessarily get to work on while playing for the Saints.
“I definitely play a lot more defensively on the Breakers,” Goulet said. “There’s not as much room, time or space as I have in high school, and the fact that I have to be quicker and more sure with the puck helps make me a better player. At St. Dom’s, I work more on forward skills and offense, and it’s more about defense with this team.”
Goulet began playing, like many of the girls’ skaters in the area, on boys’ youth teams. She did so through the bantam level, when she ultimately switched from forward to defense.
“It was new and tough to adjust at first,” she said, “but I got used to it.”
As soon as she started playing in the girls’ divisions, she began playing up an age level or two, which also helped her develop as a player more quickly.
The team’s first game is on Wednesday, April 7. Goulet leaves, by car, on Monday.
“We get to stop in Niagara Falls first, and then we’re going the rest of the way,” Goulet said. “We travel a lot around here, but it’s usually just to the next state over. This is going to be a long trip.”
But, she said, it will be well worth it.
“We’re going out there and we’re going to represent our region well,” Goulet said. “I know there are a lot of other teams in New England that are mad because we’re going and they’re not, so we know we have to live up to the expectations. We’re ready for that.”