It was almost the season that wasn’t.
The fledgling Andover High School girls junior varsity ice hockey team, which ran on vapors last year, was out of gas at the start of this season. Not enough girls wanted to play, leading Athletic Director Don Doucette to tell varsity coach Liz Keady that there would be no team.
But second-year coach Keady, who played for Princeton University in New Jersey and the U.S. National Team, wasn’t prepared to accept defeat.
“He (Doucette) called the day we were making cuts to the varsity team,” she said. “He said, ‘Liz, you have to accept that there’s not a demand for a JV team.’”
Keady knew better.
“I said, ‘Oh yes there is,’” she recalled recently. “I was adamant we have a (JV) team.”
Keady said when she originally interviewed for the job, she was promised she would be in charge of a program that included both JV and varsity girls teams. But that promise got harder and harder for the administration to keep once her inaugural season in Andover got under way, she said.
Last year, the school couldn’t support a JV team, so the Andover Hockey Association stepped in and ran it.
Then this year, just as Keady was set to cut 14 girls from varsity to create the first, school-sponsored JV team in Andover history, she learned the JV squad was two short of the necessary 16 players for a full roster.
Keady said she didn’t want to be the coach to tell potential JV skaters that their high school hockey playing days were over.
“I didn’t want to be the one to end their careers prematurely,” she said.
So when Doucette told her she had a week to come up with extra players to put a JV team on the ice, Keady rallied the troops. She went to her players, including varsity tri-captain Laura Ritzer and JV captains Laura Morissette and Abby Huntress, and asked them to find some more kids to play.