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Clinton girls hockey reloads for another state title run

Steve Jones
Sports writer
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Posted 11/26/22

The Clinton girls hockey team has its three top scorers all back from last season.

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Clinton girls hockey reloads for another state title run


CLINTON — The Clinton girls hockey team has its three top scorers all back from last season. Pair that with an all-star goalie and solid defense, second-year head coach Rob Kopek said, and “I’m extremely excited for this season.”

The team is a unified group from a number of local schools, but primarily Clinton, Rome Free Academy, Whitesboro and New Hartford. The team opens its season at 7:15 p.m. Monday hosting Oswego at the Warriors’ new home rink, the Nexus Center in Utica. The game is a non-league contest against a fellow Section III school because the two teams play three times this season and only two can be league contests. “We gotta come to play. You can’t take them lightly,” the coach said.

Last season, the Warriors were 10-2-1 with a 2-0 loss to Skaneateles in the Section III title game.

“Last year with 11 freshmen and three or four eighth graders we accomplished more than I expected,” said Kopek, noting that the championship game loss was to a more experienced team.

“With the additions and improvements to what we had last year, I think we’re better,” the coach continued. “I think we strengthened our back end. We have an all-star goaltender. I have seven or eight forwards who are going to contribute consistently offensively.” He added, “Offensively we are solid. Defensively we are going to contribute offensively also. We have defensemen who can put the puck in net.”

Co-captain Drew Kopek (RFA senior) is back after leading the team with 12 goals and 16 assists last season. She is six points from becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer, passing Mia Lopata’s 71 points. Lopata, a teammate of Kopek’s when the team won a state title three years ago, is playing Division I hockey at Quinnipiac University.

The team’s other two top scorers last season are also back. Kelsey Fuller (RFA junior) scored 11 goals and had eight assists. Lauren Rey (Clinton sophomore) had nine goals and 10 assists.

Other top returning forwards are Kate Elbrecht (New Hartford freshman), Alexa Thompson (RFA sophomore) and Gretchen Grimm (Clinton sophomore). Elbrecht had three goals and nine assists. Thompson had four goals and five assists. Grimm scord four times and had four assists.

Whitesboro sophomore forward Abigail Dicks is a new player who Kopek said “is going to contribute offensively.”

Other forwards are Isabella Nappi (Thomas R. Proctor junior), Gracen Grimm (Clinton sophomore), Leah Alteri (Clinton freshman), Eliza O’Donnell (Clinton freshman) and JoLee McCraith (New Hartford eighth grader).

Co-captain Alyssa Nardslico is back to anchor the defense. The RFA senior contributed a pair of goals and five assists last season. Joining her among the top defenders are New Hartford sophomore Mackinley Ronan (two goals, three assists last season) and Leola Johnson (Whitesboro junior), who played forward and defense last season but will focus on defense this season. She scored twice and had two assists last year.

The other two co-captains are seniors who have played in recent years but did not play last season — Leah Hilton of New Hartford and Clinton’s Sadie Davignon. “Hilton was part of our state championship team,” Kopek said. “Sadie is a tier one player that I can use at defense or forward.”

Also on defense are Riley Constantinetis (Owen D. Young freshman), Kiersten Tynatishon (Westmoreland sophomore) and Addison Tykinski (Clinton seventh grader).

“And we’re solid with Casey in net,” Kopek said of Whitesboro sophomore Casey Clausen. She’s four wins away from becoming the winningest goalie in the program’s history, passing Hailey Millington (16), who backstopped the state title team.

Also in goal for Clinton are Cassi Adams (Clinton sophomore) and Liz LaPointe (RFA freshman).

The team has, in recent years, had players from a variety of local school districts. But Kopek said he wanted the program to do something similar to the western New York teams that draw from up to four districts each. “You want to keep it fair. You don’t want to turn it into an all-star team.” He has players from a few other districts who arrived before his current focus on the four schools, he noted. And the team had about 30 players come to tryouts so he had to make cuts this year.

“We have a ton of speed,” Kopek said of the team’s makeup. The players are aggressive and there’s plenty of offensive talent. One challenge might be “establishing some chemistry and adjusting to our systems for some of the younger players.”

He continued: “I’m excited to move to the Nexus Center. I think the sky is the limit for this group. They’re as good as they want to be.”

The team will play six home games at the Nexus Center this season, and the site will host the state final four. Said Kopek: “Our goal is to be there and make another run at a state title.”


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