It’s safe to say that New Canaan’s Kaleigh Harden isn’t using Google Maps to find her way up and down the ice. If something is on her route, she’s simply coming through.
“She’s just absolutely fearless,” New Canaan girls hockey coach Rich Bulan said with a chuckle. “She’s not going to go around you, she’s going to go through you.”
That approach, combined with her natural athletic talent, has helped make Harden, a sophomore, one of the FCIAC’s top forwards for the past two seasons.
For the second time in as many years, Harden broke through the 30-point barrier, when she reached 31 with hat trick and an assist in the Rams’ 6-1 win over Ridgefield/Danbury last Friday at the Winter Garden.
In 17 games this season, Harden has collected 13 goals and 18 assists, giving her a two-year total of 29 goals, 33 assists, and 62 points.
She’s the first New Canaan girls hockey player to have 30-point seasons as a freshman and a sophomore since Olivia Hompe, the state’s all-time leader in goals and points.
“As far as her hands, the shot and her skating ability, Kaleigh’s the closest to that level that we’ve had in a long time,” Bulan said. “It’s really hard to defend her. She’s not going to be denied going to the puck or in front of the net. She just makes great things happen.”
Kaleigh is the younger of two sisters starting for the Rams, as junior McKenna Harden is a veteran leader on the defense. McKenna missed the first few games of the regular season with an injury, and her return helped bolster the blue line.
“You’ve got her and Sophie (Potter) as the veterans on that defense,” Bulan said. “We threw McKenna in the fire as a freshman and she’s started all three years. She’s the rock. She’s a steady defenseman, she’s the quarterback, and she’s the one shouting out who needs to cover and what to look for. It’s like having another defensive coach on the ice.”
As for Kaleigh, there’s still a lot of time to add to her impressive offensive numbers.
“She has 31 this season and we still have three regular season games left and hopefully more in the playoffs,” Bulan said. “So she’s got a ways to go.”
A CONEHEAD MILESTONE
Another member of the West Haven/SHA co-op’s electric “Conehead Line” has reached a career milestone.
Senior Megan Froehlich tallied her 100th career point when she scored twice and dished out one assist during WHSHA’s 8-3 victory over Hamden last Wednesday at Bennett Rink.
Froehlich added another two goals and one assist during a 7-6 overtime loss against the Amity co-op on Saturday, giving her 47 goals and 56 assists for 103 points in her career.
For the season, Froehlich has 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points, and is one of the key reasons the team is 11-5 this winter and 30-9 during the past two seasons.
“Megan is a huge part of the continued success WHSHA has had over the past few seasons,” coach Erin Blake said. “She works hard from start to finish of every practice and game. We can always count on Megan as a playmaker.”
Froehlich plays on a line with senior Taylor Nowak and junior Jianna Cohrs, who were dubbed the “Coneheads” by their coach in reference to the 1980 US men’s hockey team and the movie “Miracle.”
Nowak picked up her 100th career point late last season, and scored her 100th career goal in a game against New Canaan on Jan. 20.
Froehlich leads the team in points this season, and also holds the WHSHA record for assists. With the team bound for the SCC and CHSGHA playoffs, Froehlich has a chance to boost her numbers even higher.
“Megan is a tremendous leader and any coach would be lucky to have such an amazing young lady in their team,” Blake said.
The way coach Kerri Rowland describes her, goalie Bethany Karp can do just about anything in the net for the Notre Dame-Fairfield co-op.
“Having Bethany is like having a cat and a brick wall all in one,” Rowland said.
Karp delivered perhaps her finest performance last Wednesday when she amassed 60 saves to help Notre Dame-Fairfield top a strong Guilford team, 5-2, at Veterans Rink in East Haven. A dozen of her stops came during three penalty kills, and she pitched a shutout over the final two periods as her team rallied for the win.
She even left her coach in awe.
“She made a left pad save that was simply amazing,” Rowland said. “From my angle on the bench, it looked like half the net was open and the shot was low and hard, but Bethany got her pad on it — simply awesome.”
The Notre Dame-Fairfield co-op (6-10), which includes Law, Foran, Weston, and Pomperaug, where Karp is a junior, had a rough start to the season but has won three of its last four — the one loss was 1-0 to Hamden — and Karp, along with forward Leigha Howland, have been leading the way.
“She moves so fast and stays square to the puck better than any goalie I have ever worked with at the high school level,” Rowland said. “If we can score, Bethany keeps us in every game.”
The FCIAC’s “Big Three” of Darien, Greenwich and New Canaan have wrapped up their head-to-head meetings and the result is a split for all three teams.
The fact none of the three teams managed a sweep against the other two sets up what should be an interesting FCIAC tournament.
New Canaan won its two official league games against Darien and Greenwich, and with a 7-0 FCIAC record and the No. 1 seed, will face No. 4 Fairfield in the league semifinals at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Darien Ice House.
No. 2 Darien and No. 3 Greenwich will faceoff at 7:40 p.m. at the same site.
The FCIAC championship will be played at 3:50 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Darien Ice House.