DERRY, N.H. — Lauren Riviere knows, at first glance, that she hardly fits the image of a dominant defenseman, or a hockey player at all.
“I’m 5-feet-tall, and when you think of a hockey defenseman, you think of the big guys like (Bruins captain Zdeno) Chara,” she said. “In fact, when I tell people I play hockey, most of the time they don’t believe me, because I’m such a small girl. My favorite part of hockey is when I’m able to stand my ground against bigger opponents.”
Star defenseman Riviere held her ground against every opponent she has faced this winter, and that led to a breakthrough season for the young Pinkerton Academy girls hockey team.
In just their second year of existence, the Astros raced to a 10-6-0 record and were the No. 5 seed in the New Hampshire Division 1 tournament, earning a bye through the first round before falling to No. 4 Hanover (12-4-2) in the quarterfinals.
“Going into the season, I saw some amazing talent in our incoming freshmen and growing talent from our returning players,” said Riviere, whose squad was 6-10-0 and missed the playoffs last winter.
“But I didn’t really realize we had something special until we played Bishop Guertin (on Jan 28). Last year we lost to them pretty badly. But this year we came back from being down by two goals going into the third period. I knew we had more fight in us. We ended up scoring five goals in the third, winning the game 7-5. That showed how special this team is.”
At the center of that success has been Riviere.
A top line forward on last year’s team, Riviere made the move to defense this winter to bolster the Astros’ blueline.
“Lauren is one of the most unselfish players I’ve coached,” said Pinkerton head coach Scott Dunn. “She truly understands what it means to be a team player. She’s a strong skater that controls the puck whenever she’s on the ice.”
The move wasn’t totally foreign to Riviere.
“During the New England Wildcats (club team) summer league season, I played some defense because we didn’t have enough,” Riviere remembered. “Coach saw me playing defense and asked if I wanted to play it for the high school team, and I agreed. It was just a matter of changing my mind set.
“In the beginning, it was kind of difficult because I was so used to putting pressure on the puck as a forward. But, playing defense, you have to move and guide the player so that you can secure the puck when they lose it. This taught me to have a lot of patience in the game, and to make sure each pass has a purpose.”
With the diminutive Riviere leading the way, Pinkerton surrendered 3.2 goals per game and held opponents under three goals seven times, including two shutouts, during the regular season.
And while she admits to missing the scoring opportunities she had as a forward, Riviere has no regrets about making the move.
“I do miss the adrenaline rush you get from scoring after skating the puck up very hard,” said Riviere, who has four goals this winter. “But I’ve found that there’s so much more to the game than just points.
“My favorite goal this year was against Bedford. I skated along the outside of the neutral zone behind the net, wrapped around and scored in the middle-left. Most of my goals this year have been from the point.”
Having already led her team to a major jump from last winter, Riviere is confident that the program will continue to grow in the right direction in the coming years.
Name Goals Assists Pts
Molly Fahey 24 9 33
Jordan Wasiejko 18 16 34
Spencer St. Pierre 10 5 15
Madison Gibeault 8 11 19
Kelsey Levesque 7 11 18