Our #2 Maddie Evangelous wearing Whale green, and courtesy or Elmira Athletics, as a Soaring Eagle

MADDIE EVANGELOUS: Keep Your Feet Moving

If you’ve watched our newest member of the Pod, #2 Maddie Evangelous play, you noticed something right away. She never stops skating when she’s on the ice! She’s constantly moving her feet, creating space for herself and her linemates. The Energizer Bunny on blades. The Whale fans of Cetacean Nation saw this in her first appearance with the team in the exhibition against UConn, and again in our season opener against the Beauts. It was one of the first things we asked about when we had the opportunity to chat with a Maddie in the days after the the season opened.

When asked if this was her usual style if play, Maddie replied “Definitely! Actually it’s funny that you say that, because I’ve kind of always been that type of player. Even in high school I got picked on about way I skate, because I have a kind of a little hop in my skate. Like when I take a stride I try to jump a little bit, it just helps me get my legs moving. And even as a little kid, my Dad always said: you’re going to be small so you need to be moving your feet the whole time. (Currently I’m 5 foot tall but 5’1” in skates so I give my skate height. I’ll take as much height as you give me:)) So that has just been in me since I was a child, I was just always moving my feet in the game. So if I didn’t even have the puck, I should be moving towards where the puck might be. So that’s why I try and keep my feet moving the whole shift. But also since I’m small, I have to use my speed as an asset and keeping my feet moving the whole time helps.”

Maddie had a strong first game on October 11th, and Cetacean Nation asked about her experience that day with her new team, the rink and the fans, She replied “It was fun playing with my linemates, and actually Kendra #12 Kendra Broad) said:I like being on the ice with you because you’re quick” and I’m like yeah let’s make something happen! So, it’s kind a cool having new line mates and getting to know them a little bit.I’m really excited about this upcoming season” She added “That’s a nice little thing that they do for fans, having us do autographs and stuff. We did do it at Elmira a couple of times. But it was really cool and that environment! It’s an awesome way to promote our sport. I love that hockey does a lot of stuff like that for kids. it was also the first time I played in the rank at Danberry besides practices. I was surprised, and my parents said the same thing, about how many fans there actually were! It’s a small town and was awesome to see that many people there, it’s a fun environment. I actually really like the ice there too. I think they do a good job keeping it up. It was fun to skate on and I enjoyed it. It was obviously different from Elmira, where we played in a big dome, so often times the ice would be kind of soft. But here the ice was crisp iand the puck moves way quicker. It was fun.”

Maddie had already mentioned some of what her father had told her about her skating style when she was young, and we asked about how hockey started for her in the first place. Maddie explained “I’m from a little town in the Marlborough (Massachusetts) area where hockey is a popular thing. I have a pretty large family, who all pretty much played hockey. My older brother played in high school and also played a couple years in college and then kind of faded out. My Dad played in high school and he has five brothers who also played. So I come from a pretty big hockey family. I’m the youngest in my family, and my brother stopped playing and my sister really didn’t pick up hockey, so when I came along my Dad said: you’re going to be a hockey player you don’t really have a choice! I actually had skates on me when I was around three, and my dad was kind of persistent with the whole hockey thing. And I ended up growing and up loving the sport just as much as he does. So I have my father to thank for the love I have for the game. So mostly just because of my family I would say, that I got into hockey”

 Maddie added “My Dad actually owned the dek hockey rink that was in town, so I was playing hockey on the dek since I was three or so also. And obviously, I was in the learn to skate for a couple of years, and then I was on a hockey team at around five or six years old. My family would actually rent out the rink on Christmas Eves. it was a big thing where we’d all show up and just play a little pick up. And obviously throughout the winter we would play on the ponds together with all my cousins. The dek hockey was also a big piece of it, and growing up I actually liked dek hockey a little bit better than ice hockey “

 Cetacean Nation thought it was cool that several of her current teammates, especially Sarah Hughson, Shannon Doyle and Kayla Meneghin were ball hockey aficionados. Maddie informed us “Kayla Meneghin is actually the person who exposed me to the Whale a little bit, and brought me to practice. And that’s how I kind of got going with the Whale. And I didn’t know she was in ball hockey a little bit too, but her and Sarah played practiced it together.I actually got asked to try out this year ( for the USA Ball Hockey Team) up in Niagara but I had a family thing going on that weekend and couldn’t make it. So it really wasn’t in the cards for me to be able to play this year, but maybe in the future.”

 Through prep school, Maddie also played soccer and lacrosse, and we asked if there were any other sports she tried in her youth. She told us “That’s pretty much it, in terms of when I was younger. I played dek hockey, soccer, and I never really got into the T-ball thing. Although I know a lot of kids did that or softball but I never actually did. Hockey and soccer took up most of my time. I played club soccer as well, and it was a lot with club hockey and club soccer, and once I got to middle school I played on the middle school hockey team. And I tried gymnastics for a little bit. But that didn’t last very long and I asked for my skates back. it’s kind of a funny story. I started in gymnastics at around 12 years old or so. I’m not a very flexible person and everybody else could do a split and I couldn’t quite get it.I could do cart wheels and everything, but that split was not good, so I said I’m done I can’t do a split. Good thing I didn’t stay goalie for too long in hockey.”

We asked Maddie to elaborate on her goalie career, and she informed us “I did actually start out in hockey as a goalie. I played out for a little bit and then when it got to that  point that everybody had to play goalie, we were rotating and I ended up playing one game and I loved it. So, I got all my goalie stuff and I kept playing in net. And then my Dad got enough courage to tell me I’m too small to be a goalie, so I actually switched back to being a forward. But I did play goalie a little bit, and I have a couple of pictures of me as a goalie, you can see the whole net with me standing there. But it’s nice to play different positions because you develop respect for your teammates who are playing those other positions. It’s nice to have the opportunity to try a little bit of everything.”

Maddie began her scholastic career locally in Marlborough, but did make a major move at one point. She explained “I was at Hudson High school and my sister was a senior when I was actually in eighth grade.So I wanted to stay at Hudson for a couple of years. I ended up playing on the varsity team in eighth grade. Hudson High school was a joint team. They were still trying to get girls hockey to be a thing in high school, so we combined with a couple of different towns to make a team.So we were Algonquin-Hudson-Marlboro. I played on that team eighth grade, freshman and then sophomore year. I was actually at Hudson for three years. and then I got a chance to go to Worcester Academy. It was also an upcoming program and I decided to take that jump just to try and help them build their program and to have more exposure to college which was my end goal of course. So I transferred and stayed back a year, which is something they suggested I do. Just getting an extra year of development in both hockey and school. So I went to Worcester Academy for three years which was my second sophomore year, junior year and senior year.And by the time that I transferred to Worcester I had my drivers license, so I was able to commute back-and-forth which was nice, I was able to stay home but most of my team came from all around so they lived at school. It is more common at Worcester Academy for students to be commuting so I wasn’t the oddball out.”

Maddie had a great athletic career at Worcester. She was a two time captain, and two time MVP of the girl’s ice hockey team, scoring 100+ points in her career, and earning All-New England and Division II Player of the Year Awards. .She was captain and MVP of Worcester’s soccer squad and won letters in lacrosse. Cetacean Nation wondered what she recalled most fondly about her days at Worcester. Maddie revealed “Obviously I’m going to think about my friendships there, but actually one of the first things that comes to mind are my professors and teachers. I actually struggled a little bit academically, and when I switched over to Worcester Academy the smaller class size and those those teachers and professors really invested in my education. They were always willing to give me the extra look. it’s kind of funny, but I had my Spanish teacher from sophomore year reach out to me about being on the Whale and congratulate me. It was awesome, and it that shows how long relationship and friendship can last. It was five or six years since I’d spoken to him, and getting a text from him meant a lot to me. It just shows just how much they invested in me not only as a student athlete, but as a person.The advice I would give to any of the younger kids try to go to college to play hockey, I think would be to go to a prep school. For me prep school was the best thing, it was what I needed both academically and athletically and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”

Maddie kept her feet moving after graduation, and joined the Soaring Eagles of Elmira College to pursue her academic and athletic career. Cetacean a Nation asked how that decision came about. Maddie replied “It’s funny, I wasn’t even looking too deeply into schools until my senior year and I I’ve never heard it of Elmira. I was looking to try to major in nursing or physical therapy. The Elmira coach, actually the assistant at the time, saw me at a showcase in Boston, the Hockey Night in Boston Tournament. He actually just came up to me and introduced himself and said where he was from. My natural reaction was: well, I’ve never heard of Elmira! He laughed at me and told me he wanted me to come and tour the campus. It was a distance, and at first I was like, 5 1/2 hours from home? I wanted to be closer, but it had a nursing program, and that was one of the things I was looking into. So I went to visit and fell in love with the campus. I was deciding between three schools at the time. I was one of the last people to commit, because I wanted to make sure that was the right fit that only for me but my family as wellI. I loved the teammates there at the time so I just decided to commit to Elmira." 

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It was a great decision on Maddie’s part, as she became part of a wildly successful four year run with the Soaring Eagles on the ice. She amassed over one hundred points in her career at Elmira. She helped lead the team to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances which included a second and third place finish, and two UCHC Championships. Maddie recalled “It was an amazing experience there and I wouldn’t take that back for anything. I met some of my best friends, that will be my best friends forever there. Obviously we were always in competition with the best teams, it was so much fu, it was great hockey. Sarah (current teammate Sarah Hughson) had won a championship at Gunnery her senior year which was my junior year. And that was cool, because you were rivals and then we became teammates at Elmira. Actually I took a photo yesterday at Whale practice while we were taking roster headshots, with Kayla, and I sent it to my dad and he said: from rivals to teammates. It’s funny, but that was a big rivalry with Kayla (at Plattsburgh), it’s just funny how hockey works”

Maddie did not play with or against any of her current Whale teammates in high school, but did remember Sarah Scwenzfier from back in those days. She added “I played club hockey on the Spitfires as well so I played with a lot of girls there that played against in prep school So that’s where I remember more of the girls, like my Elmira teammate Maddy Jerolman who played for Williston, also played together with me on the Spitfires.”

On the academic side of her college days, Maddie was a nursing major at Elmira. Cetacean Nation asked how her interest in medicine developed. Maddie explained “Nursing came about my junior year in high school. I've always been the kind of person to care about others and help others in any way I can. My older cousin was actually in nursing school and she’s a nurse practitioner now.And she kind of paved the way for me in terms of falling in love with the nursing profession. So I decided to take that up in college, and now after graduation I’m studying to take my boards. After I pass that, I’m going to apply to hospitals around where I live and kind of just go from there. Hopefully it works out, Massachusetts is tough with hiring new grads So I I am just going to try to do my research to try to figure out a hospital that kind of fits me and my needs. It’s definitely a fun profession to have. iIt’s a lot of work but but it’s awesome when you can make a difference in people's lives."  Fins up to that!

Having asked the same question of her prep school experience, we wondered what aspect or moment of her experience at Elmira she recalls most fondly. Maddie responded “Yeah I’ve gotten this question before and it is hard because when thinking of Elmira, I think of the best four years of my life. So it’s tough a try to think about what’s the best of the best. I said my professors and teachers at Worcester Academy, but I’d have to go with my teammates and the friendships that I made at Elmira. That was definitely the best part of Elmira, having my best friend living down the hall from me or even the next door over. It would definitely be those friendships. But choosing a moment, I would probably have to go with beating Plattsburgh my junior year. If we’re going to go that route, the best moment was.definitely that, but in terms of just best over all, it would be does friendships that I’ve gained, those lifelong friendships. Our culture at Elmira made room for those kind of friendships so it’s a testament to that culture there “

Continuing to speak about her days at Elmira, Maddie added “ I think it was the beginning of my sophomore year until I knew about the professional women’s league. And wasn’t until my junior year until I start to think about it maybe as a possibility, when Huey (Sarah Hughson) and Meghan Fonfara (Buffalo Beauts) went on to play in the NWHL. I don’t know if this rings a bell but another Elmira player, Tania Lamoureux played in the CWHL for the Toronto Furies. There were actually a couple of more players from Elmira who played on that team as well, so that’s how I kind of knew about professional hockey in general. Then obviously I switched gears to the NWHL once Huey and Lammoreaux started playing there. Obviously for any hockey player playing college hockey it’s going to cross everybody’s mind, thinking this could be an option for me. So it’s a pretty amazing thing to have for college players."

Cetacean Nation is always curious about how a player’s number has evolved, so we posed that question to Maddie. She offered “There is a story about the evolution of my number. I was number five actually in high school, because my brother was number five when he had played.I told you I was the last person to commit to college so there weren’t many options for my number. I think they gave me the option of two or three, and I took a while to decide. This was because originally the coach at the time told me I would have my number (5) and nobody else would have it. When that d if not happen,I decided to go with two, which is kind of the reversal for five. if you put it backwards, the two kind of looks like a five. So if you look like you’re going to put it on a shirt so if it’s backwards, it’s kind of an upside down five, so I went with two. So it’s funny because Sarah Hughson, at the first game as we’re getting ready to go out on the ice,she goes: A little number for a little girl! Because obviously we go out in numerical order and I was one of the first ones to go out so she made the comment. I was laughing at it and I gave her a little hit on the head! But it’s right, a little number for a little girl. Even my name gets close to being on the front and the back with how small my jersey is and how long my name is:)”

Maddie finished up our chat observing “ Your roles switch depending on situations. I came from being a two-year captain at Elmira and a team that I’m familiar with, to kind of starting over and trying to just soak in everything from the older girls who have been there, especially our three captains. Now it’s definitely a different role but it’s exciting. In the sport of hockey, just the aura around it is incredible and that’s both men’s and women’s. I’m super excited to be a part of the league and obviously a part of the Whale. I love my teammates so far, and I’m excited to work with them this season. I’m getting pumped it’s an amazing opportunity. And I’m super pumped for our first roadie, I’m excited!"  Cetacean Nation thanks our newest member of the Pod for letting the fans get to know her a little better. And we’re all looking forward to watching her keep those feet moving, and watching her help keep our Whale the most exciting team in hockey. Fins Up to that and Fins Up to #2 Madelyn Evangelous