By Dave Dyer
---- — The travel is down and both the goals and enjoyment level are up for Methuen High sophomore Amanda Conway.
Yes, things have worked out nicely for the high scoring center on the first-year Tewksbury-Methuen girls hockey team.
A year ago, when there was no high school team, Conway played for the Assabet Valley Wizards, requiring trips to Concord, Mass., three times a week for practice and another time on the weekend for games. It was time consuming (it’s 55 miles round-trip) and expensive.
In exchange, Conway and her teammates can now simply walk over to the Methuen High rink.
Conway, who has two older brothers who played for the Methuen boys team (Dillon and Cam, an MVC All-Star in hockey and baseball last year), knew that playing for the high school would be far more convenient. She, however, had her doubts about how competitive the new team would be.
“I thought the other teams would smash us,” said Conway. “I thought we’d be the team that would step in there and really struggle.”
Instead, Methuen/Tewksbury has been more than competitive, posting a 5-6-3 record without getting blown out yet. MVC power Billerica, for example, had to struggle for a 3-0 win last week.
“I’m definitely very pleased with our progress,” said head coach Kim Bruff. “We’ve come a long way already and I think we’re going to keep getting better. We don’t have any seniors and just three juniors.”
Conway has been a key component in the progress. She started the season with three hat tricks and, through 12 games she had scored 29 of the team’s 43 goals. As of last week she was the No. 2 scorer in Eastern Mass.
Although always a scorer as a youngster, the high goal output has surprised both Conway and Bruff.
“We knew she (Conway) was a (good) player when we saw her in the preseason, but we didn’t know she’d score like this,” said Bruff. “She just has a nose for the net and she’s headstrong when she gets the puck.
“She can go coast to coast and she just keeps driving toward the net. She has that competitive drive and other teams can see that. A lot of times now, teams will have someone shadow her.”
For her part, Conway credits her skating skills, rather than a blistering shot, for her scoring ability.
Whatever the case, she’s just happy to contribute and even happier with the way the cooperative team has evolved.
“I thought having Methuen and Tewksbury (together) would be awkward,” said Conway, who also plays softball but is hoping to play hockey in college. “But it hasn’t been that way at all. We’ve actually become very close.”
And, as Conway keeps scoring and the team keeps winning, they should become even closer.
Hockey-LOVING family Brian (father) -- Coached his sons and daughters in youth hockey Dillon -- Played center for Methuen Cam -- MVC All-Star goalie for Methuen Taylor -- Junior taking year off, may play for girls team next year Amanda -- Methuen High sophomore and team's high scorer Girl snipers Following, as of last week, were the top scoring girls hockey players in Eastern Mass. Molly Connolly, Wellesley 27 *Amanda Conway, Methuen 25 Meaghan McKenna, Canton 24 Brittani Lanzilli, Medford 20 *Now has 29 goals