the north face surge Hockey takes Hamilton’s Clarke all over country with Assabet state champs
Katelyn Clarke is just a freshman in high school, but she’s already got experience well beyond her years as far as hockey is concerned.
A speedy, high scoring forward from Hamilton, Clarke has played in rinks all over New England and more recently across the country. There’s one feeling that’s the same in every arena; no matter what time of day and how far from home Clarke might be, when it hits her she always knows how much she loves the game and what keeps her coming back.
“My favorite part is when you step on the ice and the cold breeze hits your face,” Clarke said. “It’s the best feeling getting out there and working hard for yourself, your coach and your team.”
The most recent new locale for Clarke, who plays for the Pingree School, was in Troy, Michigan last month. A big part of the Assabet Valley U16 Tier II squad, she and her teammates won the Massachusetts girls Tier II title in their age group and qualified for the national championships.
Assabet went 2 2 overall in the tourney, beating a team from Utah and one from Michigan in pool play while losing to Alaska. In the quarterfinals, they had control of the game against a team from Wisconsin, but ultimately lost in overtime, 2 1.
“I remember being so excited in overtime that I couldn’t sit down on the bench,” said Clarke. “Our journey ended shorter than we’d hoped but the whole experience of playing in Nationals was something I’d never felt before.”
This year’s IIHF Women’s World Championships were happening nearby, so the team was able to watch the USA ladies face Canada (who they eventually beat to win yet another gold medal). Seeing local women’s fixtures like Danvers Meghan Duggan and her personal favorite, Kendall Coyne, was simply “amazing.”
That overtime game in the National quarters wasn’t Clarke’s first rodeo as far as sudden death. In their last game at the Massachusetts state tourney back in November,
Assabet’s 16U’s were also in overtime. That time, Clarke found herself open in front of the net and scored the game winning goal.
“Everyone hustled and worked hard. It was a great feeling to even be on the ice at the end, never mind scoring,” said Clarke, who ranked sixth among skaters in both goals and points at the state tourney.
“Every game at states was a battle. We had to play hard every minute to win each game. I was proud of how I played.”
Assabet Valley is one of the oldest and most prestigious girls hockey programs around. They’ve won multiple national titles over the years with locals like the Laing sisters of Marblehead and Beverly’s Julia and Abby Nearis among their alumni. They’re based in Concord and Marlboro, so the commute isn’t always easy for North Shore girls.
But it’s worth it.
“Every Sunday morning at six I head to practice, followed by a game in the afternoon. It takes dedication and sacrifice but it’s 110 percent worth it,” said Clarke, who played for coach Mike Houlihan this year. “I learned so much this year. If a team works together and gets along it makes a huge difference on the ice.”
Clarke had three goals and two assists in the state tournament plus two goals and an assist at Nationals. She and linemants Katie Puumala and Quinn Healy were the team’s top line.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win state and we did that. It was a a huge feeling of excitement and accomplishment,” said Clarke, who grew up playing on boys teams in Agawam Youth Hockey. She also played for the Islanders before moving on to Assabet, where she’ll be on the U16 Tier I team next year.
“My dad has always taught me to play every game like it’s my last. Everything about this sport is my favorite, the feeling of making a good pass, being united as team,” said Clarke. “I’ve been taught to work hard and to go after my dreams. I’ve learned to play physical and smart. My strengths have always been my speed,aggressive play in the corners and setting my teammates up.”
Last fall at Pingree, Clarke was one of the area’s most productive scorers with 25 goals, 18 assists and 43 points. When she was in middle school, she played at an all star level for the Marblehead High varsity (which co ops with the Hamilton Wenham school system and has a middle school waiver).
So the Nationals in Michigan were just the beginning of a busy hockey slate for Clarke. She’s planning to play at several camps and tourneys this summer, including the Bean Town Classic.
“I want to study pre med,
” she said. “So I’d like to try to find a Division 1 or 3 school that has that. My ultimate goal is to play hockey in college.”.