Since starting the girls’ hockey program at Woburn in 2001, Bob MacCurtain has led his squad to the MIAA tournament every year. With a 211-47-22 coaching record and an emphasis on teamwork, MacCurtain knows a thing or two about success.
“The culture is each group wants to be as good or better than the one before and they want to keep that going,” said MacCurtain.
The Tanners have competed in six state championship games, he said.
“When you come in as a freshman and you look up on the wall, you want to continue to be a part of that,” he said.
On her way to a milestone is senior captain Kayla Smith, who is 8 points away from joining the 200-point club.
“I didn’t even look at is as an individual [accomplishment],” said Smith.
Smith finished last year with 165 career points, on 82 goals and 83 assists.
“She’s definitely become a bigger and stronger player and her vision is what sets her apart,’’ said MacCurtain. “She is a smart player and helps the people around her to be better players.”
Smith won’t be the first Tanner in the 200-point club. Leading the school’s all-time scoring for both girls’ and boys’ programs is 2005 product Colleen Sanborn (206-78—284).
Sanborn competed on Woburn’s first girls’ hockey squad, even taking the Tanners to an undefeated season, she said.
“I was successful due to my teammates and the depth on our team,’’ she said. “I benefited from being able to play with great players,.
“To see the program still doing that is what has left an emotional mark with me.’’
During a successful career playing at Northeastern University, Sanborn missed her home.
“It was a different experience coming from Woburn and having a small-town feel from the fans to going to play college hockey,’’ she said. “The game itself is faster-paced and playing with girls all across the country, the competition is higher.”
Sanborn stays in touch with her high school, even coaching at MacCurtain’s summer camp. She said Smith was a player who caught her eye.
“She has a great shot, both in terms of power and placement, and her size and strength are above the crowd,’’ Sanborn said. “She works hard and is in the right place at the right time and at times, she can be double- or tripled-teamed in games and being able to put up points shows she’s a great physical player with great hockey sense.”
Smith, as did Sanborn before her, has had the privilege to learn from Abby Gauthier, the state’s all-time scoring leader, and another instructor at MacCurtain’s summer camp.
Gauthier, a 2008 St. Mary’s alum, holds the MIAA girls’ state career scoring record, amassing 358 points (179 goals, 179 assists).
“I hope that someone breaks [the record]. You want to see the sports continue to grow,” said Gauthier, who was part of two state championship teams with the Spartans and completed a four-year career at Providence College last year.
“[Smith] has a great head one her shoulders. She’s a great player and she’ll have a lot of success.”
Gauthier’s advice to future squads is “just keep working hard and you always want to be better than your opposition and don’t give up.”
Smith has not yet decided on where she might play next season, although she has been accepted to seven colleges.
Games of the week
No. 19 Archbishop Williams (8-1) at No. 8 Arlington Catholic (7-1-1), Wed., 6 p.m. — The Cougars served Archbishop Williams its only loss of the season with the winner coming from sophomore forward Adrieana Rossini. Senior forward Erin Dwyer leads the Bishops with 12 goals and 13 assists.
No. 6 Westford (7-0) at No. 16 Acton-Boxboro (5-3), Wed., 7 p. m. — Westford remains undefeated, allowing five goals while scoring 31 of its own. The Colonials have not had trouble scoring behind freshman forward Megan Barrett, who leads her team with eight goals and nine assists.
No. 3 Duxbury (8-1) at Barnstable (5-3), Wed., 7:15 p.m. — The Green Dragons’ 34-game undefeated stretch ended with 1-0 loss to Falmouth on Jan. 5. These teams already played this season with Duxbury taking a 5-1 win, thanks to a pair of goals by Jane Dudley.
No. 14 Austin Prep (5-3-3) at No. 4 Hingham (6-2), Sat., 3:30 p.m. — The Harborwomen are loaded with talent, headed by senior forward Jane Freda (14-10—24). Despite a 4-2 hiccup to Division 2 state champion Duxbury and a recent 3-1 loss to Fontbonne, the squad should breeze through the meat of its schedule. The Cougars’ biggest threat is between the pipes, as senior Shannon O’Neil is posting a 1.07 goals-against average.
No. 5 St. Mary’s (6-2-1) at No. 19 Archbishop Williams (8-1), Sat., 4 p.m. — The Spartans are led by Kaleigh Finigan (8-7—15). The Bishops are steered by Erin (12 goals) and Kiera (eight goals) Dwyer and Katie Barry (12 goals). Bishops junior Ashley Dallaire has also been strong, posting a 1.00 GAA.Liz Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @etorres446.