Foreshadowing is sometimes defined as some thing or event that is indistinctly prophetic at the time, most commonly understood as a literary device. But there is foreshadowing in hockey too, sometimes of epic or historic proportions. The entire CCM Hockey All-America D-III East first team for the 2016-2017 season is an example. All six players would end up on the ice for the Connecticut Whale this season. They are our #70 Sam Walther, #37 Erin Brand, #5 Kim Tiberi, #3 Kayla Meneghin, #20 Melissa Sheeran and the subject of this story, #19 Sarah Schwenzfeier. Cetacean Nation spoke with Sarah about her journey to the Whale and took a look back at her days at Norwich, Tabor, Hingham and beyond.
One of our two Massachusetts natives on the Whale, Sarah hails from Hingham, about a half hour southeast of Boston, and less than an hour up the coast from Bourne, hometown of #11, Emily Fluke. Along with current Whale teammates from Norwich, #9 Kaycie Anderson & #5 Kim Tiberi, Sarah played against not only Emily, but also a few other current teammates. Sarah told us “ While at Norwich, Kaycie was my left winger for my freshman year. I loved playing with her. Emily Fluke was a few years ahead of me when she played at Middlebury, so I don’t really remember playing against her. Sarah Hughson, I remember playing and watching her my senior year. She had a great senior season and was someone we kept and eye on when playing against her.” It paid off, and last March, despite a goal by Sarah Hughson, Norwich prevailed over Elmira to win the NCAA Championship game, 2-1.
So that’s a little bit about Sarah and her NWHL friends, and as it turns out, another friend helped get Sarah started in hockey. She explained “Growing up, my best friend and I did everything together. We were in the same class from kindergarten throughout elementary school. We always did the same things, and we were pretty much inseparable. My friend then started hockey in second grade and was loving it, so I told my dad I wanted to play. And that day my dad and I went over to Play It Again Sports and bought all my equipment. And that is when I began playing.” Sarah continued and added “ Growing up south of Boston, hockey has always been a popular sport in my area. My family grew up watching the Bruins and attending games. Although nobody in my family had played before, we would go to frozen lakes close to my house and skate with other kids in my area.” Sarah’s career really took off when she got to the high school level, but it also took a surprising but fortuitous turn. Sarah began playing hockey for her home town Hingham High School Harborwomen, and by her sophomore season, lead her school to the MIAA Division 1 State Championship.
Sarah’s statistics tell more of the story of her three years at Hingham: 67 goals, 79 assists, for 146 points in 77 games, including ten points in her first five games. Fire on the ice indeed. Sarah gave us some great insight, saying “ Playing for Hingham High School was a great time. Our team was always in the top 10, allowing us to make playoffs and have a competitive season. I was at Hingham for 3 years while playing on the Hingham Harborwomen team. My freshman year our team made it to the semi finals but lost in a close game. That year the boy’s hockey team went to the finals and won at the Boston Garden. It was an exciting game and the Garden was packed with local families and children supporting the town. After attending that game it was amazing to see the support from everyone and how exciting it would be to play at the Garden.” Sarah continued “ The following year, my team had a great season. We ended up reaching the Championship game that again took place at the Boston Garden. It was amazing to see all the love and support of the town and local people. We ended up winning the Division 1 Championship Game and it was unreal to do that at the Garden.“ Cetacean Nation is sure that growing up a Bruins fan, and then getting to play on their home ice for your high school championship, would be a dream come true for every little Future Draft Pick in Massachusetts
With all of that success at Hingham, Cetacean Nation was curious what circumstances led to Sarah’s transfer to Tabor Academy for her senior year. Sarah was also playing on a well regarded club team, the Bay State Breakers while at Hingham, and that played into her answer. Sarah explained it this way: “ After 3 years at Hingham High, my family and I decided it would be my best interest to transfer to Tabor Academy. Although hockey and soccer at Hingham was competitive, I wanted to challenge myself more. Two of my club hockey teammates were already attending Tabor and loved the whole experience. After visiting Tabor myself, and talking to friends that went there, I decided to attend as well. That same year, two of my other teammates from the Breakers also decided to transfer to Tabor that year. This was exciting, and although I grew up playing club hockey and competing in public school, we were now able to go to school and play multiple sports together. After transferring and settling in to school, we realized that our hockey team consisted of mostly Breakers and Spitfires (another top tier club team in the area). Throughout the two years at Tabor our two teams competed on the weekends, it felt like every other week! It was fun to play during the week with your teammates and split into two different club teams and compete against each other on the those weekends!”
Just as she had at Hingham, Sarah hit the ice on fire at Tabor. Tabor’s Athletic Department issued this statement and award after her first week of play. “Sarah Schwenzfeier has been strong on every shift of every game. She first earned an assist on the clinching goal against Milton, and then added both a goal and an assist in the team’s victory over Cushing. Playing in all situations and logging heavy minutes on the ice, Sarah has done a great job to earn the team’s first Athlete of the Week.” During her senior year at Tabor, Sarah led her team to a 19-3-2 record. But at both Tabor and Hingham, hockey wasn’t Sarah’s only sport. She told us “Throughout high school and even before that, my weekends and life consisted of playing sports. Growing up I tried most sports, but when I got to high school I decided to play soccer, hockey and softball. As a freshman I made varsity soccer, which I felt had to do, with growing up playing more than one sport. (Sarah later won a NEPSAC soccer. championship while at Tabor) Although in soccer you play with your feet and hockey with your hands, the lessons that you learn from each sport varies but can be applied to each. I believe it is important that children grow up playing more than one sport. These days many kids are picking one sport and focusing solely on it. I feel in the long run this ends up hurting the child. Many kids become drained of the sport and end up losing the passion for it. “
Sarah continued, and explained how her prep career led her to Norwich University. “Once at Tabor and beginning to look into colleges, I realized I did not know where I wanted to go. All I knew is I wanted to continue to play competitive hockey. After looking, I realized that Norwich University would be the best option for me, both academically and for hockey. At Norwich I was able to study Health Science due to our coach allowing us to make our academic schedules, and him arranging practices around what worked for everyone’s classes.” The coach she referenced was Mark Bolding, who had these remarks about Sarah in an article in the Boston Globe: “She is one of the best two-way, consistent players in the nation, with a natural, quiet leadership style that has made our team so steady during her four years. She is like Patrice Bergeron in the middle with all the tools, with and without the puck.” Sarah had a very interesting story to go along with those remarks, telling us “It was an honor being compared to Patrice Bergeron. It was a funny coincidence that I was, because he is my favorite player and have grown up watching him. In high school our coach assigned each person to watch from the Bruins because most of us were Bruins fans. I was assigned Bergeron, and I guess after years of watching someone and learning from them you, develop traits similar to that player.” We reckon so, and those traits certainly helped define Sarah’s career with the Cadets. In addition to the great team success she experienced, culminating in a National Championship as we’ve noted, she was literally fire on the ice in her personal play. In 119 career games, Sarah scored 121 points on 54 goals and 67 assists. The type of fire Sarah brings out onto the ice can also be seen in this video, the Number One Play of The Week, check it out here: https://www.mynbc5.com/article/orr-would-be-proud-of-top-play/15832019
Sarah has played in several games now with the Whale, including the season opener. Most recently, she played very well in both games during our weekend out in Minnesota against the Whitecaps, displaying a solid three zone game. Sarah really seems to have gotten into the type of rhythm that comes from more ice time, and that earns more ice time. We appreciate Sarah sharing some great parts of her story with her fans, and look forward to seeing more and more Fire On The Ice in the days ahead. Fins Up to our #19, center/forward Sarah Schwenzfeier.