“Western New England was introducing their players for the new program and there’s Maggie Gould of Hamden,” Usseglio said. “You see that a lot now. It’s awesome to see Connecticut high school girls playing in college and getting a chance to play.”
Usseglio does a thorough job keeping up with his former players who have moved on to the next level and that’s no small feat.
Since 2012, the ETB program, a co-op which features East Catholic, Glastonbury and South Windsor, as well as Tolland and Rockville, has had 21 players go on to compete at the college level, including six who have remained in state: Maddie Bishop, Cassie Nevers, Caitlyn Caldon and Samantha Ostrowski at Sacred Heart University, and Liz Caporale and Stephanie Nevers at Trinity College.
Bishop graduated from SHU in 2020 and is now a member of the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL, and she said the number of Connecticut players now on college teams is a sign of the growth of the sport.
“The past few years, girls hockey has continued to expand and grow,” Bishop said. “So there are plenty of opportunities for players, especially with the NWHL taking off and there are six teams in the league. It gives younger girls an opportunity to say I can go further into this, I can take my career into this, and I can go and play at a bigger level.”
ETB plays a difficult schedule and is consistently in the running for conference and state titles. The program’s level of play, and the success it’s had, has created chances for players to continue.
“We’ve had some pretty good teams and with that, you’re going to have opportunities,” Usseglio said. “There are certainly many more opportunities for girls to play now than there were when we started and that’s really not that long ago.
“My daughter (Halle) plays for a team at Suffolk (University) that didn’t exist when we started, so there are more teams and with that, the girls have more opportunities.”
Usseglio also pointed to the growth at the youth level and among travel programs such as the Northern Lights, Ice Cats and Polar Bears, as having had a huge impact on the level of play throughout the state.
“Hats off to the Ice Cats, the Northern Lights, the Polar Bears, the Thunderbirds, Shoreline Sharks – that’s where all these girls come from,” Usseglio said. “There’s no mystery there. That wasn’t there before but now, the numbers in those organizations are strong and they’ve gotten a lot more players than they used to.”
The march of players from ETB to the college ranks, according to Usseglio, began with Caporale, a defender from Glastonbury who went on to play for the Bantams at Trinity College. In three seasons there, Caporale played in 55 games and had three goals and three assists, while also playing for the Trinity field hockey team.
“Liz was our first and she was really good,” Usseglio said. “She played field hockey too, but most of them aren’t able to do that. Even at D3 schools now, they specialize, so it’s hard for the girls to play both.”
Monica Darby, an East Catholic graduate, went to the University of Rhode Island and played in 100 games, collecting 61 goals and 50 assists.
Maddie Gervais joined the St. Michael’s College team as a forward in 2017 and has played in 75 games, scoring 11 goals and dishing out 20 assists.
Maggie Hallisey, a 2016 graduate of East Catholic, went on to play ice hockey at Usseglio’s alma mater, Holy Cross, and played in 96 games, scoring five goals and six assists.
Hallisey is the ETB program’s record holder in career points with 108 on 50 goals and 58 assists, and season points with 45 during her senior campaign in 2016.
Hallisey, Gervais and Bishop were all part of the ETB team which tied Simsbury 2-2 and shared the state championship in 2015.
In the past two years, ETB has sent six players to the college ranks, including All-State defender Julia Swanson, now at Assumption College, and All-State goalie Caldon and Ostrowski at SHU, all of whom graduated last spring.
In 2019, forward Victoria Amaral went to Salve Regina, forward Meredith Mack went to the University of Delaware, and forward Allison DiPrato went to Lebanon Valley College.
Bishop credited Usseglio and the coaching staff at ETB for developing players and giving them a chance to continue their careers.
“The ETB program has been awesome,” Bishop said. “Still following along now, I can see that it’s continued to grow and develop. Coach Frank has always been awesome, I loved playing for him and I continued to learn and grow. You were never at practice just to practice. Everyone was there to get better and that was huge in my development as a player. That’s why the team in general has great success with girls going on to play (college) hockey.
“He’s there to make everyone grow and push people to get better. He gets you to fall in love with the game.”
With the CCC boasting a few strong teams, including Simsbury, ETB along with the Avon and Suffield co-ops, and several other programs stepping up in the SCC and FCIAC, Usseglio said just about every game is competitive.
“Look at how strong the whole (CHSGHA) has been recently,” Usseglio said. “Some of the girls who played for us and are in college right now, their statistics were depressed because they played in games which weren’t competitive and you just kind of threw the puck against the boards. Now, there’s nobody we played last year that wasn’t competitive.
“The state is so much more competitive and it’s great for the girls.”
ETB STORM PLAYERS IN COLLEGE
- Victoria Amaral, Forward, Salve Regina
A sophomore at Salve Regina. As a freshman, played in 27 games and had two goals and four assists.
- Christina Behr, Defender, Plymouth State University
- Maddie Bishop, Forward, Sacred Heart University, CT Whale (NWHL)
Played 127 games at SHU, scored 33 goals and had 58 assists; Selected by the CT Whale in the fifth round of the 2020 NWHL draft.
- Caitlyn Caldon, Goalie, Sacred Heart University
A freshman at SHU, Caldon was an All-State goalie for ETB last winter.
- Ronnie Callahan, Forward, Syracuse
- Elizabeth Caporale, Defender, Trinity College
Played ice hockey and field hockey at Trinity College; Played in 55 games for the Bantams and had three goals and three assists
- Monica Darby, Forward, University of Rhode Island
Played 100 games at URI and collected 111 points on 61 goals and 50 assists.
- Allison DiPrato, Forward, Lebanon Valley College
A sophomore at LVC.
- Maddie Gervais, Forward, St. Michael’s College
Played in 75 games for St. Michael’s and had 31 points on 11 goals and 20 assists.
- Maggie Hallisey, Forward, College of the Holy Cross
ETB’s all-time record holder in career points (108) and season points (45 in 2016); At Holy Cross, played in 96 games and had 5 goals and 6 assists.
- Victoria Hallisey, Forward, Villanova
- Meredith Mack, Forward, University of Delaware
Has played in 12 games with six goals and five assists.
- Sarah Manner, Forward, St. Michael’s College
- Cassie Nevers, Forward, Sacred Heart University
A sophomore at SHU, has played in 29 games with three goals and three assists.
- Stephanie Nevers, Forward, Trinity College
- Samantha Ostrowski, Forward, Sacred Heart University
A freshman at SHU.
- Kathryn Pettibone, Forward, Nichols College
- Savannah Popick, Forward, St. Anselm College
- Julia Swanson, Defender, Assumption College
A freshman at Assumption.
- Marykate Thompson, Defender, Plymouth State University
- Halle Usseglio, Goalie, Suffolk University