Carly Drew is only a slightly smaller fish skating on a bigger pond while playing junior hockey this fall with the Bridgewater Bandits U19 Tier II women’s junior team. In an even more competitive environment, the Old Rochester Regional senior is emerging as an all-situations player and a leader.
“Carly from day one has been a leader. You can tell she’s a coach’s daughter. [She says] ‘please’ [and] ‘thank you,’ she leads by example,” said Tom MacDonald, a 25-year coach whose daughter Kaitlyn also plays on the team. “[Carly’s]) hockey IQ, she’s a hockey player whether she’s playing center or left wing. She knows how to protect the puck, make plays, backcheck, defend. I have not seen her make a poor decision this fall.”
Drew, 18, is approximately 10 games into her season with the Bandits and has a few remaining on the schedule. The team travels up to Marlboro and has played in Dedham and Hingham, destinations no more than 90 minutes from her Rochester home.
Hockey is a family affair, as her father, Tim, is a long-time high school hockey coach in the area, and her uncle Ted Drew coaches the ORR girls coop team that she captains. Nonetheless, the outside experience of playing in less-familiar environments has been welcome.
“The Bandits definitely helped make me better, just being on the ice is good,” said Drew. “Fall sports is a little tough; it’s been kind of nice to have that break and focus on hockey. It’s definitely a faster pace than high school, but it’s helped me develop more as a player. Especially with a different group of girls, we’ve come together as a team, and it’s been fun whether we win or we lose.”
The Bandits have been in all of their games, but offense has been hard to come by, so their solid and steadfast play is not reflected in the team’s record. “We’ve had a lot of close calls, 2-0, 2-1, stuff like that,” said Drew. “We have difficulty scoring sometimes, we’re usually getting there. We lost 1-0 on the weekend, but the girls keep chugging along, and hopefully, this weekend, we come across with a win.” The Bandits have two games this weekend.
Last year, ORR began hosting the girls high school hockey coop program previously hosted by Bourne. Drew has been a member since the eighth grade, including three years wearing Bourne’s purple and the initial season in red and black, the Bulldogs’ colors. “And hopefully one this year,” she said.
High school has been a place where she has felt safe. “Everyone’s been good. We wipe down the desk before and after each class, which is good. We haven’t had a lot of cases in our area, so we’ve been able to have class,” she said.
Drew wants to play Division III hockey in college and is hoping to major in psychology to start. “If something else steers me in another direction, I’m all ears to it,” she said.
Drew attends classes at ORR on Tuesday and Thursday and studies at home on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “I definitely enjoy the days in better. The in-person activities with my friends and teachers as well,” she said.
When the state closed skating rinks for two weeks last month, Drew and her brother, Jake, a 16-year-old sophomore at ORR, had to get creative to keep the hockey skills sharp. “We shoot some pucks in the back yard. My brother and I play street hockey. We have goalie pads from years ago; we broke those out.”
They’ve also been using private gym memberships.
Although ORR opted-out of a fall sports schedule, Drew is not giving up on her senior season as a field hockey captain. “I’m hoping for that one in February or March,” she said of the MIAA’s Fall II season. She plays defense in field hockey, too.
What isn’t known at this point is if the MIAA will allow coop programs; without them, high school hockey is in jeopardy in many communities outside Route 495. Wherever she plays hockey, Drew is fast proving she will thrive.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed coaching her this year. Her character is a reflection of her parents. I can’t see her not continuing her future success,” said MacDonald, who forecasts a “bright future” for the defenseman. “I’m going to continue to work with her throughout the season.”
By Mick Colageo