The Montclair State University women’s ice hockey team made history this year when they won the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference (DVCHC) title for the first time ever. Players and coaches stressed that their senior leadership throughout this year was very strong. Senior English major Brittany Meneghin really stepped up for her teammates and scored 36 goals and 24 assists, which earned her bragging rights as the leading scorer in the Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) for Division II women’s ice hockey this season.
Ice hockey players do not simply start their playing career as great skaters. Everybody has to learn to skate well before they become an ice hockey player. Meneghin described how she learned to skate when she was a young girl.
“I was 6 [years old] when I started skating and I used to do half the public skate in figure skates and then the second half in hockey skates,” Meneghin said. “My parents couldn’t get me in a tutu, so [instead] I went with the hockey player attire.”
The senior forward described why she wanted to be an ice hockey player growing up.
“The person who inspires me would be myself, because I always push myself to be a better person, but that’s because of players like Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan,” Meneghin said.
Meneghin first stepped on to the ice for Montclair State in 2014 when the Red Hawks were just starting. She described her experience when she first joined the team as a freshman.
“Jess Coyne was a great person when I met her and really inspired me to push the program,” Meneghin said. “Being part of a small program and making it this far is by far the biggest accomplishment I’ve made. The practices were early in the morning before school started when I was in high school, and I felt like a bigger part of myself.”
Head coach David Solomon has coached Meneghin for the past four seasons at Montclair State and had this to say about the senior forward’s playing style.
“Britt was a good player as a freshman and her greatest strength is her determination and competitiveness,” Solomon said. “That’s also her downfall, she plays so hard that she gets in penalty trouble.”
Meneghin led the team in penalty infraction minutes and goals this year. Meneghin discussed her style of play.
“I mean I’m very aggressive, I had 51 penalty minutes in 14 games,” Meneghin said. “You can tell I’m aggressive, just by looking at that. I get heated, I get caught up in the game, but that’s just how it is.”
Coach Solomon pointed out how shooting accuracy played a part in his top scorer’s game this season.
“This year she found the way to capitalize on most of her scoring opportunities,” Solomon said. “It was rare that when she got in the high slot—in the spot where she could get her shot off—it was a rarity if she didn’t score.”
Something that Meneghin seems to believe that a team should do for its young players is go out of their way to spend time with them. The Red Hawks welcomed two freshmen skaters this year, who each made an impact in their first season.
“[This season we added] Lexi [Montez] who’s a freshman and she’s amazing and such a goof-ball” said Meneghin. “She’s very quiet to begin with, but when she speaks it’s hilarious. Celine, she was chatty from the start. She didn’t really know how to skate or anything, but she comes on the ice, in our third game and puts the first goal in the net, and we’re all sitting there like, that didn’t happen, but that [was] amazing and she comes to practice and she’s very dedicated, which is nice to see, and it’s nice to have her on the team.”
For Meneghin, team success comes before personal success. Sophomores Victoria Nicolosi and Paula Bush played on a line with Meneghin this season, which was the team’s most productive line offensively, producing 119 points for the Red Hawks.
“Being the top scorer in the conference, it’s [an honor] for my team than it is for myself, because if you look back at any of our games and you see how I’m scoring it’s not just me,” said Meneghin on the credit her teammates deserve. “It’s how I’m getting set up by my line mates and how plays are being made offensively.”
This season the Red Hawks played nine away games and they went undefeated on the road, winning eight of nine games. On March 13, the Red Hawks took a bus ride to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the ACHA National Tournament. Meneghin emphasized that this team’s identity has a lot to do with team bonding.
Meneghin also described how her teammates bond together in the locker room before games at home, on the road and on the bus rides they take to away games.
“It’s not all about skill, it’s also about the hard work, the dedication and how much time you want to spend with those people, too,” Meneghin said. “Because when you’re on the bus for like six hours, you have to stay in hotel rooms with them and it’s like family.”