Having played defense for most of her hockey upbringing, Catherine Granito was moved to forward during one of her very first practices for the New Canaan girls hockey team.

More than 100 goals and nearly 200 points later, the shift has paid off for Granito and the Rams. Granito, a first-team All-FCIAC selection, added 50 points (33 goals, 17 assists) to her total last year, helping the Rams to a 9-8-1 record while earning Hearst Connecticut Media Group Super 10 MVP honors.

Granito recalled that freshman practice, when coach Rich Bulan asked her to join a line with a once-in-a-generation talent in Olivia Hompe and another outstanding senior in Corbett Ripley.

"I remember as a freshman I came in very intimidated," Granito, a junior, said. "I was a defender and (Bulan) threw me out there and said go center them in practice. I had great seniors who were unbelievable and they taught me."

Granito had 65 points during that freshman season, and had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over Hall in the state championship game.

"She's been important ever since she got here," Bulan said. "She was a huge part of that line with (Hompe) and (Ripley)."

Granito started skating when she was 2 years old and quickly found a home in the New Canaan Winter Club and Connecticut Ice Cats. Although she has committed to Michigan for lacrosse, Granito has a soft spot for the other sport she dominates.

"I love hockey; even now I know would hate to go full season without skating," Grainto said. "I still do a lot of skating in the offseason. It's something to get my mind away from everything sometimes."

By New Canaan's high standards, this season was view as somewhat of a disappointment as the Rams were denied hardware for the second straight season.

"I don't think this season went very well; I think we've had better seasons," Granito said. "We definitely were in the rebuilding process because we've lost so many people. I think that will change next year, possibly."

Her climb to 116 goals and 64 assists through three seasons has her in rarified air. Hompe holds the state record with 384 points, but second place is in sight.

"I've had some very talented hockey players," said Bulan, citing former New Canaan greats Maggie Westfall and Jana Persky. "(Granito) is right up there."

Bulan is also pleased with how Granito became a leader for the Rams in guiding the team during a transition period.

"She's taking on more of a leadership role," Bulan said. "When she's out there she understands her role. But last year she really stepped forward in leading the team on and off the ice."

The Rams have several standout athletes that have excelled on the ice and on the turf and Granito is the latest to join the tradition.

"Part of it God-give talent and second is what you do with that talent," Bulan said. "There have been a lot of great athletes that haven't had the mentality of understanding what it takes. (Granito) has been fortunate to have that work ethic on top of it."

rlacey@bcnnew.com, @ryanlacey11