Over the Hompe: New Canaan sophomore sparks Rams
The New Canaan girls hockey team has charged out of the starting blocks in the 2010-11 season. After nine regular season games, the Rams are 8-1 and have outscored their opponents 66-13 thanks in large part to the efforts of starting left winger Olivia Hompe.
Only a sophomore, Hompe is second on New Canaan with 19 goals and leads the team with 22 assists for a team-high 41 points. With her team sitting atop the FCIAC standings, Hompe was quick to identify camaraderie as one of New Canaan's biggest strengths.
"I think we have really good team chemistry. We work really well together. It's nice and the whole team has been able to gel," Hompe said. "Last year we had a really big senior class, and they were great leaders, but this year I feel like everyone contributes more. But [seniors] Carla [Paredes] and Jana [Persky] are both really important for us. They're both really good players."
The New Canaan girls hockey team was the only squad in action from either New Canaan High or Darien High on Martin Luther King Day, as they played host to Morristown, NJ Prep School. Morristown had specifically asked to play New Canaan due to its dominance of its own hockey league (Morristown had outscored its opponents 66-0 going into Monday's exhibition against New Canaan).
New Canaan narrowly missed out on several goal-scoring opportunities in the first two periods, including a Hompe wrist shot that clanged off the pipe midway through the second, but Hompe finally ended Morristown's season-long streak of not surrendering a goal at the start of the third period.
With New Canaan trailing 4-0, Hompe required only seven seconds to put her team on the board. New Canaan senior center and captain Persky won the opening draw of the third period over to Hompe. Hompe skated into the Morristown zone, broke to the outside of the defender and released a quick wrist shot that lit the lamp and cut New Canaan's deficit to 4-1.
"I just saw the puck go forward and I just kind of went with it and went around the outside and just threw it on net," Hompe said.
But Hompe didn't stop there. With her team trailing 6-1, Hompe picked up an assist after taking in a pass from sophomore Bea Eppler and making a deft pass to Persky, who scored the game's final goal 3:03 into the third period.
The game itself had no bearing on the FCIAC standings, but Hompe sounded hopeful that playing such a quality opponent had provided a good early-season test for New Canaan, the defending FCIAC and State Champions.
"I think [playing Morristown] really put us in a good position and it showed us a lot of flaws," Hompe said. "When you play a really good team it's easy to see what you're doing wrong, so I think that helped us. It was nice having a challenge because we're playing Darien [tonight], so we're all really pumped up for that."
Playing on a relatively young New Canaan team which consists of only two seniors (Persky and defenseman Paredes), Hompe's torrid scoring pace has made up for some of the team's inexperience. Coach Rich Bulan said that it was important to have an underclassmen emerge as a goal-scoring threat.
"Arguably, she's the best player in the state," Bulan said. "But the thing that I like the most about her is that she doesn't try to do too much. She doesn't try to do it all, and she trusts her line mates. She makes the players around her better, and that's what good players do. Plus, on top of that, she's probably an even better kid than she is an athlete."