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Shamrocks Feature Professional Atmosphere, Top-Notch Coaching

Friday, August 19, 2016, 3:57PM
Veteran Boston Shamrocks goalie Kia Castonguay, who has risen through the ranks from the U16 to the U19 team and is committed to Clarkson University, dons the August '16 USA Junior Hockey Magazine cover.
By Joshua Boyd
USA Junior Hockey Magazine

At Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., on nearly any given summer's day, you can find roughly 20 members of the Boston Shamrocks women's junior program skating and working on skills in hopes of making this next hockey season their very best. And possibly their last junior year before a hopeful college hockey career.

“We do skills, drills and – if we can get a decent amount of girls – we'll scrimmage,” said first-year Shamrocks U19 head coach Danielle Doherty. “We'll get 20 to 25 of the local girls. I'm on the ice, and all of our coaches – Maria Nasta, Amanda Pelkey and Molly Corl.” Doherty was hired in May, not long after the end of the 2015-16 season. A former player for Boston College, where she played in four Frozen Fours, Doherty brought a year of head coaching experience to the Shamrocks – not bad for someone who just hung up the skates as a player in 2015.

“I got a phone call from Bob and right after that phone call, I set up a meeting to meet with him,” said Doherty. “When I walked into his office and the rink, I was sold. Bob gives his heart and soul, and the No. 1 thing he cares about is the girls, to helping them become the best they can be.” “The first thing that I tell every girl is we treat them pretty much like professionals. I could tell that right from the first time I came into the rink,” added Doherty. “From how Bob presents the team and treats the girls to the equipment, the ice time, everything.”

Doherty is one member of a larger, all-female coaching staff for the Shamrocks' women's teams. She is joined by UMass-Boston standout Nasta and former University of Vermont star Pelkey. Nasta is also head coach of the U14 team, working with assistant coach Christina Henkins. The overall staff also includes U16 head coach Corl (Saint Anselm College) and her assistant coach Abbey Gauthier (Providence College).

“There's a lot of new light put into the program, and you can see that from the amount of recruits we got in a short period of time,” said Rotondo, of the 2016-17 coaching staff. “The excitement and interest has jumped up a lot.”  “I think that's huge for the players, to see an all-female staff,” said Doherty. “They're going to listen to us, and respect us. We've been there before. We know what they should be expecting.

“I've been a player, so I've done this before. Pelkey is playing for the U.S. National Team, so she's played at a high level. It's really rewarding when one of your coaches has played for the National Team, and also professionally [for the Boston Pride, of the NWHL],” added Doherty. “Maria's been in the hockey world for many years. We form good relationships with the players, and that's one of the most important things.”

Rotondo was excited when he found out that Doherty might be available to coach his team. “This was a very quick decision,” said Rotondo. “This was a panel of me and two other professionals who are highly respected in the hockey industry. The end result was that Danielle is young and well-respected, has lots of energy and it transfers to the ice, and the way kids react to it. “It took a couple meetings, but we signed her on board and she and her staff were out recruiting two weeks later,” Rotondo added.

Rotondo is not surprised at how quickly some of the top players on the Shamrocks' wish list were signed for 2016-17. “It's the way she presents herself in a professional manner, the way she communicates with parents, the way she sells the program and tells the truth,” said Rotondo. “She'll say ‘Speak with [Rotondo], speak with our academic coordinator [Hannah Irving] and her assistant coach Abbey Gauthier (Providence College). The rest is up to your daughter to come here and perform.'”

2016-17 U19 Boston Shamrocks

Paige Sullivan (Thunder Bay, Ont.)
Jaden Trboybevich (Anchorage, Alaska)
Mary Lambert (Plaistow, N.H.)
Rose Mroczka (Lee, N.H.)
Katie Leffler (Coral Springs, Fla.)
Courtney Gauthier (Tampa, Fla.)
Lexi Stanisewski (Lawrence, Mass.)
Meagan MacNeil (Weymouth, Mass.)
Kassi Graves (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Bella Hanson (Eagle River, Alaska)
Cameron Payne (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)
Cassidy McEwen (Lloydminster, Alberta)
Kelly Golini (Tewksbury, Mass.)
Jordan Hoya (Edmonton, Alberta)
Courtney Kelly (Arlington, Mass.)
Kia Castonguay (Ipswich, Mass.)
Michaela Boyle (Reading, Mass.)
Sarah King (Wilmington, Mass.)
Ashley DeFusco (Cranston, R.I.)
Lauren Hennessey (Lynnfield, Mass.)