Success breeds success at Nichols School
Only a handful of schools carry a girls program – with most of them coming in the last two years.
However, there is one school that has had girl’s hockey for the past eight years, but they are kind of a secret around these parts.
Nichols School, a prep school based in Buffalo, is known for their success in the classroom and their success on the ice – in boy’s hockey.
What one doesn’t know, is for the past seven to eight years, the school has produced a very successful girls program. A program that has seen many of its players going on to play hockey at the Division I level or playing for their country.
“The program has gone on for about seven to eight years at this point,” stated Nichols coach Scott Welch. “There has been a number of girls that have gone on to play Division I hockey, like Princenton, Syracuse, Boston College, Union, Mercyhurst, Northeastern, Vermont, Boston University, Penn State. We have had quite a few players over the past couple of years have success here.”
Success hasn’t come over night, but through the hard work form the coaches and players over the past eight years.
And with Nichols being one of the few schools in the area to have a varsity girl’s team, they needed to go elsewhere to find competition.
They found competition in not just one league, but two. The Nichols School plays in two leagues over the course of the school year. And both leagues aren’t even close to home.
They play in Canada for one set of league games and in the North American Prep Hockey League for the other.
Because of the rigorous schedule they play, Welch thinks that’s one of the main reasons why girls want to play hockey at Nichols and not in their own districts like Williamsville or Kenmore.
The level of competition, and the fact there are a lot of scouts at these games, makes it very interesting for the girls.
“One it’s the academics. Nichols certainly prepares you for college,” stated Welch. “I also think it’s the level of teams we play and the schedule we play. We play in the North American Pre Hockey League, which is 10 of the best prep schools throughout the country in that league. And we play in the Canadian Prep League, which is the top prep schools out of Canada. Also, this year we are going up to Shattuck St. Mary’s.”
The problem, however, with playing in two leagues is all the travel. If they were able to stay home and play local schools the travel wouldn’t be a concern. But, because they have to travel and play in Canada and everywhere else, the team and staff have to make sure they are really orgainized.
“It is definitely challenging. The kids have to be really organized,” said Welch. “In the Canadian league it could be a three and half hour trip, so it’s a really aggressive schedule. It’s definitely challenging, but when the kids leave here I think they are really welled prepared and I think that is what the college coaches are really excited about. Not only are they really well prepared in the classroom, but on the ice as well.”
Because of the exposure these young women are getting, it makes it easier to be recruited by top-notch colleges.
Just recently, Haley Scamurra, Maddie Elia and Kelly Seward all signed their letters of intent, with a handful more of girls still sifting through offers.
Elia will take her talents to Boston University, while Scamurra will head to Northeastern and Seward to Penn State.
“I am so excited to not only have Kelly Seward lead our team this season for Nichols, but to watch her as she takes her game to Penn State next year,”” said Welch. “As a defenseman, the key to success is consistency, which is something that I and the other coaches have noticed most about Kelly. While quite in nature, she lets her actions speak on the ice.”
“I am really excited to be a part of Maddie Elia’s signing,” said Welch.“I have watched Maddie grow as a hockey player and as a person over the last three years. What stands out about Maddie is her tremendous work ethic in both practice and in games.””
“I think success, breeds success,” stated Welch. “There have been 36 kids that have left me that have gone on to play college hockey. So, I think that kind of feeds on itself. And, I think the reputation of the school helps, certainly. Whatever there age, their goal is to play college hockey, whether it’s at the Division I or Division III level. I think a lot of them see this as their stepping stone. To be able to play at that level it’s playing against the best competition out there and challenging yourself.”
Nichols has 582 students from across Western New York and Southern Ontario, as well as several international students.
Hockey Program – Program consist of a Varsity A and Varsity B
Rink – Nichols plays their home games on campus at Dann Memorial Rink – Capacity 1,000
Record – Nichols finished last season 26-3-3 and gave up 42 goals in 29 games.