Amanda Conway the career scoring leader from Norwich University Photo courtesy Norwich Athletics

AMANDA CONWAY: SHE SHOOTS, SHE SCORES !

As of right now, General Manager Bray Ketchum Peel has signed four Draft Picks for the 2020-2021 season. That equals the total number we have signed in previous seasons combined. And they all were both selected and signed, for a very specific reason, and are illustrative of what Bray set out to do at the close of last season. In the case of our amazing rookie Amanda Conway, Bray made it clear she is coming to the Pod to score goals. Amanda told us.

"I was talking to the GM and she was literally like: No pressure, but I want you to know you are a huge part, and we expect you to score. And I was like: Okaaaay:) I don’t think you can say that and then say no pressure after that:) I obviously don’t care about pressure” she laughed “I just thought it was funny the way she said it! I know that’s what they expect out of me. I feel like every team I go it’s what is to be expected. At Norwich it was a little bit different because we had a lot of goal scorers, but still I was expected to score along with them. They were also expecting me to score. Norwich was different from high school where it was: If you don’t score, we ain’t winning” So hopefully it can be a little more like Norwich, where you help someone score and hopefully someone is going to be able help you,” 

And in addition to scoring goals at Norwich, Amanda could dish assists as well.Her program record 188 points included 72 assists to go with 116 goals over 111 games played. It was an exciting year for Amanda, culminating in an exciting Draft Night that landed her on the Pod. The Whale selected Amanda in the fourth round with the 19th overall pick in the draft, making her the first Norwich player ever drafted into the NWHL. Cetacean Nation asked her about that, and what that Draft Night was like, and she replied

"On draft night I was with my parents, and we had all the computers going, it was really exciting. Only one of my friends could come, because of Corona and social distancing, but it was nice to have my family around. One of my other friends, she didn’t get drafted but I’m pretty sure she’s going to end up playing for one of the other teams, and she asked : Did you know? And I was like, no I didn’t know!” A lot of anticipation is a big part of it!” Amanda just mentioned the pandemic, and we asked where and how She was dealing with it. She explained  “So, I’m at home. I’ve been home since we had to leave school. I started working with my Mom, only like a couple of weeks ago. Until then, we had online school, so I was kind of dealing with that stuff. Also another fun fact, is I am not done school yet! I still have to do another year in the classroom, but I’m finished with hockey. So I’m going to be back at Norwich, and I’m going to be commuting from Norwich to Connecticut. Yeah, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be interesting. It’s like a four hour drive, so I’m going to have a blast, I’m sure! :)  We thought maybe she could get Uber or Lyft credentials “Seriously! Pick up some money along the way. I could pick up the same people all the time!”

We also asked how Amanda’s training has been impacted, especially compared to how offseasons usually went during her career at Norwich. She stated

“It’s a little bit different: because at Norwich we would probably be doing workouts and stuff. But I do run here, I would normally be running in Vermont anyways. Almost every other day, depending on how I’m feeling, I have a workout bench and everything in my house luckily, so I am still able to do that kind of stuff. I kind of lucked out with that. So I have all those things I can do here, so it isn’t that big of a difference for me. The only thing is, I can’t skate. But that’s OK, you’re supposed to take some time off anyway. But it’s kind of been like three months now, and I want to skate! Everyone’s like: We’re opening soon! And I’m like: What does soon mean?”

Amanda  laughed and continued “I texted one of my old coaches and she said sometime this month they’ll be opening. So hopefully that actually happens, because that would be really nice. At least if they open just for me to skate, I don’t really need other people, or whatever. Not for big games and stuff, but if I could just go in there and hang out and skate with a couple of my friends, that would be cool!” She laughed again and said “It’s been like three months, ugh! It doesn’t seem like it because you’re so used to it at this point. Doing nothing, it’s like routine:)”

Amanda had mentioned working this summer with her Mom, so we asked her about that and she explained

“My Mom works for a debt collecting company near where I live, So, over the summers I just work with her, so I can spend some time with her in the summer. I’ve been working there for four summers just to make some money. And I literally just help them out with whatever they need. It’s actually located a town over from Methuen, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, it’s an interesting place. I don’t have to do much really, so it’s not too straining. Best of both worlds.:)”

Amanda hails from Methuen, Massachusetts which is located about halfway between Boston and Burlington. It’s named after an 18th century British politician and diplomat, interestingly the only place in the world bearing his name. It is pronounced Muh THEW en, and as Amanda noted “People definitely say it weird if they’ve never been there.” So Cetacean Nation wondered how little Amanda got her start in hockey in this town with that very particular name. She revealed

“I have two brothers and a sister, I’m the youngest of all of them. So my brothers had been playing hockey and I just remember skating ever since I could walk. it’s just what I always wanted to be doing when I was a kid. We had a rink in the backyard, and when my brothers were out skating, I wanted to be out skating with them. If they were out playing street hockey, I wanted to be out playing street hockey with them. I was just very motivated to do whatever they were doing, which was hockey. They kind of got me hooked on it." Amanda continued "I played in Methuen for Mites, and I played for the Lowell River Hawks, and my Dad coached me. It was a boys team, I was the only girl. My brother also played for them, but he’s older so I didn’t play with him. I played boys hockey until I was 14, and then I went to the East Coast Wizards in Bedford, MA, and played there for a little while.”


Amanda continued “And then in high school (Methuen-Tewksbury), I played on the boy’s team the first year and then they made a girls team my sophomore year. That was interesting too. We were the first year, and it was a rough one. Most of our girls couldn’t skate, it was bad. The practices were literally circles. I was like: I know how to do this already. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and they were falling over:) That was tough, but we made it through. We had a good goalie, and this one defenseman who was good, and that’s all you need. One good defenseman” she chuckled." And that’s literally how it was when I was a sophomore in high school. All the teams were just starting new programs. So nobody was that good, except Duxbury, Duxbury was really good, we lost to them in the finals like, 10-0.”

Our amazing Amanda scored over 200 goals in high school playing one year of boys hockey and three years of girls!

Amanda lit it up for The Methuen-Tewksbury Red Raiders too, scoring 204 goals during her career. And her 86 goals as a senior set the Massachusetts state record, held previously by, well, her. But even with those prodigious scoring stats, and all the awards and honors, one game from those years jumps out. One February night against Waltham, she found the back of the net seven times, also breaking her own state scoring record then. Cetacean Nation wondered what that night was like, and Amanda laughed and said

“I don’t know, but let me just tell you this. I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff, so I probably I didn’t realize it at the time. I don’t know, I think seven was the record and I was tied for the record with someone. And I just remember my Dad just looking at me, and he has one finger up. He thinks I need one more, and I couldn’t score that last goal to save my life. So, I don’t know how I scored the first seven, but I couldn’t score the eighth! Very interesting:)”  That might have served for as the favorite high school memory for most anyone. And there was a later game when she broke the single game scoring record with nine goals. but when we asked Amanda the question, she took the answer in a whole different direction.

 “A favorite memory? No, I have a tragic one! There is this one story that has stuck with me forever. I feel like this is the only story I tell from high school, I don’t know. My senior year we were playing against Burlington, and Kelly Browne, she plays for BC now. I actually know her, and she was on that team, and it was me vs her. Her team wasn’t really good, but she’s good. And our team wasn’t really good, but I’m good, so it was literally me vs her. So the score was 4-3, we were losing, we were about to go on a power play, and there was a minute left in the game. And our coach pulled the goalie. I told her not to. I said don’t pull the goalie, I’ll score! Because if you pull the goalie they can shoot it down into the net. It made no sense, why would you do that? I said: Don’t pull the goalie, I’d score, we’ll be fine. But she pulled the goalie, Kelly Browne shot it down the end, and we lost! The one thing I remember vividly, I was so mad at her. It makes me cringe! It makes me angry still. So Colten, no pulling the goalie when we have a power play at the end of a game! she laughed. "Yeah, I laugh about it now, it’s funny, but I was mad at the time. I feel bad memories are just as good as the good ones, if you can still laugh, it’s fine. “

During her high school days, Amanda also played for a club team, the Boston Shamrocks. Several of our Pod have played there including Grace Klienbach, Rachael Ade and Katka Mrazova. And Amanda achieved the higest points per game average in their program history, with a mark of 1.536. She told us

“When you play in high school, you can play half season with a club team, and go to Nationals once school is over. So I did that with the Boston Shamrocks for two or three years. I started that when I was a sophomore. So I did a half season with them, and that’s how I became part of the program. And as soon as I graduated high school, I was like I’m going to just go play a year of junior. Because I didn’t know where I wanted to go, I didn’t know what to do yet. So I just played a year of juniors with the Shamrocks after I graduated from high school. “


Amanda continued " So I didn’t know exactly where to go, and I was very back and forth about what I wanted to do. A couple of D1 schools wanted me, but my grades are not great. That’s why I am in the situation I’m in right now, having to go back to Norwich for another year. So I just didn’t want to go to a big school and get stuck there and be nobody, and not get the schoolwork done that I need to get done. So I emailed Molly Fitzpatrick, who is the Assistant Coach at Norwich and asked: Are you guys interested in looking at me? One of my friends had already gone there, and he had said: Just email them, you are good enough to play there, they’ll definitely email you back! And the next day. she got back and said: Yes, come up for a visit, sure we’re interested! And the rest is history, I picked Norwich immediately. I love it, it’s small, the people are nice, and knew a couple of people that went there, so it was an easy pick for me. I also didn’t want to be too far away from home, and Vermont is only two hours away. The other schools were like five to seven hours away. I wanted my parents to be able to come see me play.”

 

As Amanda said, the rest is history, and she broke the ice early for Norwich, scoring her first goal in the first game of her Cadets career. She also registered her first assist, and her first 1st Star of the Game recognition. Of special interest to Whale fans her goal was assisted by our former #5 Kim Tiberi! So we asked what other Whale players she had played with and against, and specifically if she had skated on a line with our #21 Sarah Schwenzfeier as her center?

“Sarah, I don’t think so. Because I always played with Brynn Wopperer, who is another girl who graduated a year after Sarah. I always played with her and one of the other freshmen, Sophie McGovern. She decided to go overseas, but she’ll hopefully come here (at some point) because I want her to be my linemate again! . So I always played with her and with Brynn, so I never played with Sarah.” Eventually we should just do it for the fun of it. Kayla Meneghin, I know her, she knows me. I don’t know if she likes me, I guess I’ll find out :) Norwich and Plattsburgh aren’t exactly friends, but it’s OK " she laughed. "I also played against Nicole Guagliardo at Adrian at some point, Jane Morrisette, and Sarah Hughson" (more on that in a bit)

Amanda’s career at Norwich was nothing short of spectacular, for both her and the program. She scored more points than games played all four years at Norwich, and more goals than games played the last three. She is Norwich’s all time scoring leader, and led NCAAD3 in scoring twice. perennial All-League,  MVP, and three time NEHC Player of the Year, and a National Champion. And this past January 25th, Amanda scored her 100th career goal in her 100th career game for Norwich. Cetacean Nation loves those kind of stats, and had to ask about that. Amanda responded

 “That was so cool actually. It was probably one of the coolest things I did at Norwich, honestly. I usually know, because my Dad keeps track of everything, so he’ll let me know if there is something going on. So my 100th game, my 100th goal he’s like you’re pretty close, and I said OK, so it ir was in the back of my mind, but I didn’t know if it was going to happen. Then when they announced it, I was like OMG, that didn’t just happen! "

As amazing as that was, it was not the only great memory Amanda had from Norwich when we inquired, saying

“Oh, I’ve got way better stories for college than high school! So in college, my best memory would be winning the National Championship (2017-2018). I will never forget that last goal that Sophie McGovern scored. I passed her the puck and I was like: Please Sophie, Lord put it in the net! And she put it in the net! If fans have seen the video I was literally skating so slow. We were on a power play and I was skating so slow down the side of the boards that later my Dad was like: What were you thinking? you were going so slow! And I said: I was just trying to slow down the play Dad! was waiting for Sophie to get in front of the net! Am I wrong? I am not! :) And, with 13 seconds left I fell off the boards into the bench, I thought I broke my back, because I was so excited. I was actually trying to sit up on the boards. There was a time out because we had an empty net goal that they we’re going to call back because we were offsides. It.was the weirdest thing ever, but we were offsides on our empty net goal. They were calling it back so I literally jumped up to sit, and when I swung my feet around, I fell. It wasn’t like I was trying to get over the boards, I was just sitting, even worse, it was awful:) There are also videos of that everywhere. ( https://www.icloud.com/photos/#0LK9TFY6widnAxU5bs2t67C5Q) I made an embarrassment of myself, but I was fine. I might have gotten hurt but I wouldn’t have known because I was so excited. We were like thirteen seconds away from winning! But my friend got it on video, and put it everywhere and was like: I’m so proud of you for winning the National Championship, but you’re so klutz. And I was like: Thanks:) My friends are cool, that’s on my highlight reel forever! I’ll never forget it, We got the rings and the banners, that’s all we need!  Isobel is next on the list, and no worries, we got it!


Amanda did not mention it, but besides assisting on the game winner, she also scored the game's first goal, at the 11:58 mark of the second period. And we should mention that the dramatic finish to the game was caused by a goal 4:04 after that, scored by none other than our #24 Sarah Hughson! An Elmira- Norwich classic for the ages. Check out this great highlight video of the game here: https://youtu.be/AusOprstARo

A lot of attention is focused on Amanda’s scoring stats, understandable since she holds nearly all of Norwich’s scoring records. But that part of the game can’t exist in a vacuum. It tales a lot of hockey skill to put that many biscuits in the basket. So Cetacean Nation asked Amanda to break down her game a little for us. She explained

“I feel like I have a quiet confidence. I may not say a lot, bit I’m very confident with what’s going on. I usually know the situation, and know what needs to be done. And I think I am good at evaluating situations, and seeing the ice very well. I’m OK at puck handling, I could get better.I will get better before the season starts! Sometimes I mess up, then I get mad, We don’t want that. I do like being on the power play, I know it’s a privilege.. I do like it, but sometimes it can be difficult if you don’t run the right system, or everyone doesn’t know what’s going on. I’m not a penalty guy, I don’t like penalties. I actually think I got a lot of penalties in high school, but I feel like I’ve changed in that aspect. I feel like I got mad easily in high school, and I’ve toned that down when I got to college. Norwich had a really big rule to not take easy penalties, like tripping or hooking or anything like that. If you’re going to take a penalty, check somebody, make It worth it. I feel like I really learned from that, I may have taken a couple but not as many as I used to.”


All of her former coaches have commented on her discipline and ability to adapt and prevail, even when double or triple teamed. And, that she is very strong on the puck, and explosive. Amanda was honored this past season as the 2020 Laura Hurd Award winner. It is given annually to the nation's best Division III women's ice hockey player, by the American Hockey Coaches Association and is named in honor of former Elmira College hockey star and four-time All-American Laura Hurd, who died in a car accident after graduation.

So with as active as the Pod are with our Little Future Draft picks, we asked Amanda if she had experienced some of that at Norwich. She replied

“The little ones are so cute! But interestingly at Norwich, because in Vermont, there's not a lot of people. In our town there’s like fifty people in it, minus the college students she laughed. So like there’s literally just one stop light. It’s very small. So there were a couple of kids and sometimes we’d get a group if NAHA or something like that coming in. Groups some time would like to tour through our locker room and meet the team, so we’d see them sometimes. OHA (Ontario Hockey Association) too, they came a couple of times. Or the Girl Scouts, we had them a couple of times too, and they’d also tour the locker room and do a campus tour. We’d talk with them, dance with them, music and everything. And in 2018 when we won the National Championship we had to do a lot of signing stuff for all sorts of people. Norwich is kind of different, it’s such a small place, and the big schools probably are involved with it more than us.”

As we wrapped up our chat with Amanda, we inquired about a couple of things the fans in Cetacean Nation are always curious about, nicknames and numbers! So we asked Amanda about both. She revealed

“So I do have a nickname but I don’t know if that’s gong to stick. My nickname is conwayswag2! Some people call me Con, they call me a lot of different things, but that’s my what everyone likely calls me, I don’t know why. I’ve had it since I was little, and I just always kept it. ( It is also Amanda’s Twitter & Instagram handle!) I’m not going to change it. But, I did change my number! I don’t want to be #2 anymore, I don’t know if you were going to speak to that. But I’m changing it to #88, I’m pretty sure. Like Patrick Kane and David Pasternak of course. With the Shamrocks I was #22, and in high school I was #2, and I was #2 at Norwich. I like the number two, I was always #2 or #22, but my favorite number has always been #18. And I have a chain around my neck, a necklace with the number two on it. I got it when I was young and I always wore it. So I’m like, I have #2 on my neck, I can wear a different number on my back:). So I really lik the #18, but I’m pretty sure someone already has it. I was thinking about other numbers like 18, so I thought maybe #82, like the 8 & the 2. But then I thought: Nah, I’m choosing #88, because I love David Pasternak, I love most of the guys who are #88. Why not, I can change it next year. I wouldn’t though because I like it:) 

Cetacean Nation thanks our new Amazing #88 Amanda Conway for her insightful, candid, often humorous content, and no matter what nickname she ends up with, the fans of Cetacean Nation are going to be hearing NWHL announcers screaming ' She shoots, she scores". A lot. Fins Up to that!