We also asked if Nicole had played any other sports seriously growing up? She replied
“No, hockey was my main thing as soon as high school hit. Of course I played on the sports teams in middle school but I really wouldn’t count that as as anything. I played a year of volleyball and a year of basketball, but nothing serious, and I played baseball growing up until I was nine or ten. But like I said, nothing ever serious. Hockey was my main focus, so it was hockey 24/7 for me. Honestly, even before middle school I knew that. Because even sports that I played in middle school, if I had a hockey game or hockey practice I would miss whatever sport, like the volleyball game. Hockey was more important. I played track and field actually too. I did the 400m, 200m, 100m and the hurdles one time. That was awful, I fell. I tripped over the first hurdle and fell so I never did that one again" she laughed. "And then also the long jump. But then I realized I wasn’t getting 1st all the time and I was like: What the heck, I’m going back to hockey, I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was! So OK, maybe better on the ice:) But I remember I didn’t go to Sectionals which is the biggest thing for that league. Sectionals is a huge event, but I had some hockey tournament, and I was like: I’m not going to Sectionals, hockey is more important to me. Hockey’s always been my #1.”
At the collegiate level, Nicole started down those forty miles of rough road. She played at three colleges, which is unusual, and she has a very interesting story about how that came to be. So we began by asking how she came to chose her first school, Mercyhurst and where things went from there. She disclosed
“Well, I had a few offers from schools, and I felt Mercyhurst was the best fit when I visited there. It was good for the first two years, and I met great people there. I made great friendships, And I still talk to them everyday actually. Unfortunately, the hockey wasn’t very good for me. The coach really didn’t believe in me, and I didn’t get the kind of playing time I wanted. Luckily I went to a different school, as I transferred to Lindenwood, and that coach did believe in me and I did play. I was able to prove my old coach at Mercyhurst wrong, which was one of the best feelings, honestly. Lindenwood is in the same league as a Mercyhurst, so I played against them. And I remember the first game I played against them I scored the first goal and it was bar down! I happened to fall on my knees and I was like sliding into their bench, and I was making direct eye contact with my former coach. Best goal, hands down, in my college career! It was just amazing. I got an assist later on and we beat them 4-1, so that was amazing. But overall, I got the most points on my team, and ended up finishing ninth overall in our league. Only two Mercyhurst players had more points than I did. . And, I was playing on a team that wasn’t as good. We were ranked lower than them, so it was kind of hard to get points. We didn’t have as many skilled players as Mercyhurst. Maybe if I had stayed there I would have gotten more points, but oh, well! she laughed But that was awesome to prove him wrong, that was exciting.”
Nicole continued her saga “But then, I mean, I swear, I’m telling you , I think I’ve had the worst luck that any NCAA athlete has had, with just figuring out schools! Because unfortunately at Lindenwood, our coach got fired, we only won four or five games. I like winning, I hate losing, and the school wasn’t a good fit for me academically. So I saw once the coach left, also some of the other top players started leaving as well. And I was like: Yeah, this is my time, I’m going to leave too. But unfortunately you can only transfer D1 to D1 one time, so I knew I had to make the decision to play DIII. Which didn’t bother me, I’m glad that I came here (Adrian), because I got a chance to win a National Championship here, so that was really exciting. And unfortunately like I said, bad luck again, the season got cut short, and I really think we could have won it. Unfortunate that it did get cut short, but I’m glad that I came here. I’ve met a lot of great people, I had a lot of fun here, and a lot of success. I like Coach Skelly a lot he’s a great coach. He honestly was probably one of the best coaches I ever had. It was nice to end my senior year on a high note, I knew I wouldn’t do that at Lindenwood. Yeah, I’m grateful I did come here.”
And the best certainly came last, as Nicole had a terrific season personally along with the Adrian squad She led the Bulldogs in points with 33 (16 goals and 17 assists), including five power play goals, two empty net goals, and six game winning goals (tied for 1st in DIII). As a result, she was named to the 2019-20 ACHA All-Conference team, and was a second Team All-American to cap off her collegiate career. Her coach at Adrian, Shawn Skelly said at the time
“I'm so proud of Nicole and her accomplishments this season,".Prior to this season, Nicole set out to become an All-American and with today's acknowledgement, as her coach I'm happy to have helped her achieve such a high accolade. Nicole is someone who has a god given talent and can be a game changer at an instant which was great to have for our program this season. I want to thank Nicole for transferring to Adrian for her last year of college hockey and we were lucky to have her put on a Bulldog Jersey! Thanks Guags and Congrats!!!"
Before wrapping things up with Nicole, we asked her opinion of whether or not the NHL should try to salvage the season, Nicole offered the opinion that
"I think it would make sense for them to try and continue the season, because they’re professional hockey. I think it’s different when it’s college hockey or something. But those are professionals getting paid millions. It would bring entertainment to people , with everyone in lockdown it’s hard to find things to do. So as long as they could find a way to play those play-off rounds, it would create a lot of entertainment, because a I think we have to bring normalcy back to people.”
The NHL seems to agree, at least through this week, as along with planning the 2020-2021 season, they are opening up training camps for 16 teams to decide the Stanley Cup. As for our amazing rookie winger Nicole Guagliardo and the Whale, normalcy will come in mid-November when the NWHL is slated to return for it’s 2020-2021 campaign. “I think it is up and coming and I’m excited, to be part of it” Nicole added. Cetacean Nation thanks Nicole for her candid and entertaining remarks, and we can’t wait to see her in warrior mode, now that she's negotiated that rough road and arrived in Danbury! Fins Up to that!
Note: For more on Nicole check out our interview with her Dad on this site in All In The Family #4