BOSTON — Every morning this past summer, Wilmington resident Lauryn Hanafin woke up super early, hit the road for Exeter, New Hampshire, so she could brush up on her craft.
On Sunday night, the senior captain and goaltender of the Austin Prep women’s hockey team looked back on all those mornings knowing that each of those trips was worth it. The training tips and improvement helped her through a perfect season. She guided the Cougars to a 27-0 record, which included 17 saves in the team’s 4-1 win over Arlington in the Division 1 State Championship game held at TD Garden.
“This (championship) means everything to me. This is my last season before I go play Division 1 college hockey next year (at Stonehill),” she said. “It just means everything. to come here and win this league title with such a great group of players and coaches, and just the Austin Prep environment. It means so much to me personally.
While the Boston papers have yet to announce their All-Scholastics for this season, Hanafin already has more accolades than likely an entire roster has collectively. She’s already a two-time Boston Globe All-Scholastic, and is now a two-time Division 1 state champion, as the Cougars were co-champions in 2020 when the final game was canceled due to COVID-19. Additionally, she was named CCL All-Star three times, CCL Co-League MVP twice, CCL Goaltender of the Year twice, and led the Cougars twice. league champion titles. And she is a member of the National Honor Society.
Although she was always extremely talented, she said she reached the next level through those training days in the Granite State.
“My brother Pat Gigante really encouraged me. I got to where I am for a reason,” she said. “Besides him, I owe so much to Steve Mastalerz, my goalkeeping coach. been a great benefactor of my goalkeeping technique.Over the summer I drove down to Exter, New Hampshire every day at 7 a.m. to work with him and it improved me so much “It’s helped my preparation for this season so much. I’ve never felt better than I do now, which is great. He worked with me on everything.”
She said that during those hot summer mornings she worked on a variety of aspects, whether it was angles, gloves, sticks, sprawling saves, among others.
“A big part of his training outside of technique, speed and explosiveness, is the mental aspect,” she said. “Pat helped me with that, as did my coaches here (Stephanie Wood and Nikki Petrich). I remember when I came here in sophomore year, it was a big change and a big environment and that was hockey in high school. They really gave me back my confidence in my game. They made me as confident as I was in my game and for that, I’m very grateful to them.
During the regular season this year, Hanafin – whose father Steve was an excellent baseball pitcher at WHS – finished 22-0 with 16 shutouts, an incredible mark including a 0.41 goals-against-average and save percentage. 0.974 stops. She allowed only nine goals in 22 games.
In the playoffs, she went 5-0 with three shutouts, posting similar .40 GAA numbers and a .975 save percentage, while allowing just two goals in five games.
Those numbers combined were 27-0, 0.40 GAA, .976 save percentage and 19 shutouts. She allowed only 11 goals in 27 games.
But numbers never say it all. The title of state champion is much more than numbers.
“Even though I have to put a lot of effort into it, my team puts a lot of effort into it,” she said. “As a team we won that game. It wasn’t just one person, we as a team just did that. I think that’s super important with team cohesion over the course of the game. of the season, the 6 a.m. practices and being there for each other and it all really turned into the way we play on the ice. It really showed with the energy on the bench, which was really amazing. When there were tough times, (the players on the bench) really pushed us. It resulted in a big third period that we really needed and it’s such a great feeling .
While the numbers are all very impressive, Hanafin and the rest of the squad have felt incredible pressure all season, especially leading up to this final. The Cougars were 26-0, the No. 1 seed – throughout the season – had outscored teams 152-10, including a previous 6-1 win over eventual opponent State . A loss would have been one of the biggest upheavals in high school hockey memory. Having that pressure and tension building up on you every day can easily lead to mental errors, holding the stick a little tighter, trying to do too much, taking stupid penalties. The Cougars took a 2-0 lead before Arlington scored late in the first. After that, the Cougars hung on, keeping a one-goal game until less than three minutes to play when AP scored twice, the last in an empty net.
“We knew coming in here that we had a blazing red laser on our backs. We went in (26-0) so we had a big flashing red target,” she said. “We knew everyone was coming for us and everyone wanted to beat us and nobody wanted us to have this season unbeaten. We just really focused on our game, we didn’t focus on the noise around us and we just played the way we knew how to.
“We followed the coaches’ game plans, we kept it simple, listened to their games when they told us to do things a certain way. It was so important, especially with our team’s ability to move the puck so quickly and efficiently. When we play as a team and not individually, it is very, very difficult to stop us. With our abilities and our attention to detail, applied to our speed, it is very difficult (to stop us).
When things got intense in the second and third periods, which included a huge save on the stick from Julia Krepelika, Hanafin said she was able to get through those pressure moments, thanks to another influential figure.
“Before each period, I tell myself a verse from the Psalms. I’m very Catholic and that’s a big thing in my family. The verse I said last basically means that if you act in a good mood, God will reward you and you will basically live a great life of happiness. I felt like I was positive and if I did what I was supposed to do, with my Lord by my side, that would be a huge benefactor on how the game would turn out,” Hanafin said.
The championship victory ended an incredible career for Hanafin and the rest of the AP team.
“Lauryn has just been rock solid and has been a huge part of the success of this team,” said head coach Stephanie Wood. “We have great defenders, great forwards, so if teams are lucky enough to get through them then they have to deal with it. It was kind of a dream team for the ice this year.