St. Dom’s/Winthrop/Gray-New Gloucester girls hockey coach Paul Gosselin, middle left, watches players during a drill at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn on Monday evening on the first day of practice for the 2019-2020 season. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — The excitement of a new season came instantly, even if the names of his players didn’t for St. Dominic Academy girls hockey coach Paul Gosselin on Monday, the first day of preseason practices for girls hockey teams throughout the state.

Gosselin can be excused for not easily remembering the names of some of his new players. He just met them, and so did his returning players.

That’s because the Saints this season have added players from Gray-New Gloucester and Winthrop high schools to their program, which gives Gosselin a roster of 17 players — depth that he hasn’t had in any of his previous seasons at St. Dom’s.

“We’re always looking to improve our program,” Gosselin said. “We took the positive approach and said, ‘How can we get some extra girls to infuse into our program?’ So we kind of looked around, and talked to some of the schools, and it worked out very well.”

St. Dom’s welcomed in four players from Gray-New Gloucester, which previously was in a co-operative partnership with Greely, and Yarmouth/Freeport before that. One of those players, Madison Pelletier, was a freshman on the Rangers’ state championship team two seasons ago.

“It was a little bittersweet leaving Greely, but I’m happy to join these group of girls,” Pelletier said. “I know a lot of them, and it was fun coming in today.”

Three more will travel to Auburn from Winthrop, some of those players coming over from the Hawks boys program, which is based out of Maranacook but includes Winthrop among its other schools.

“It was really exciting,” Winthrop junior Abbie Ross said. “It’s kind of sad leaving my team, but I’m excited to make new friends and it’s going to be a good year.

“It’s kind of a transition (coming from a boys team), and it’s different, but I’m really excited to start.”

St. Dom’s/Winthrop/Gray-New Gloucester goalie Madyson Boulet gets into position to make a save during a drill at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn on the first day of practice for the 2019-2020 season. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Pelletier had already played with some of the St. Dom’s players when she was younger, but Ross said she played youth hockey for Maranacook and wasn’t familiar with many of her new teammates.

That all changed Friday when the new team had an initial “get-together,” according to Pelletier, but Monday was the first time together on the ice for all the players.

“It’s great because I saw them on the ice and they’re all really good, and I’m really excited to play with them,” St. Dom’s junior Gigi Ouellette said.

Short of the names, Gosselin didn’t notice much different from having two new schools worth of players to coach.

“Hockey players are hockey players,” he said. “So, to me, they’re all going to be in the shirts and skates, and fit in really well and we’ll go at it.

“I don’t really label them from (a) school … I look at them as hockey players. We had our first skate today, and we’ll look toward building our chemistry with our program like we do every year. No different. Just more numbers.”

St. Dom’s/Winthrop/Gray-New Gloucester players do laps around the rink during a drill at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn on Monday, the first day of practice for the 2019-2020 season. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The players were already looking forward to building the chemistry with their new teammates.

“I think we’re just going to hang out a lot more, do more team events, definitely stretch after practice and just have a lot of fun when we’re together,” Ouellette said.

Ross said her comfort level in the locker room from before the first practice to after had already risen.

The other Winthrop players are Nikki McDonald and Madison Weymouth. Joining Pelletier from Gray-NG (St. Dom’s athletic director J.P. Yorkey said all of them are from New Gloucester) are Avery Haskins and Reese and West Duffy.


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