It’s tough to say who is more excited about the next girls ice hockey season, Haverhill/North Andover/Pentucket (HNAP) head coach Gary Kane or incoming freshman Gabi Locke of North Andover.
Locke is a member of a promising class that includes North Andover goalie Juliana Taylor, Pentucket defenseman Paige Nottingham and Haverhill’s Kendal LaRivierre, all of whom have Kane smiling.
“It’s a really good group and, with everyone we have coming back, I think we’re going to have a lot of success,” said Kane. “I’m really looking forward to the season.”
Of the group, Kane may be most excited by Locke, a multi-skilled center who has been playing for the Middlesex Islanders.
“What’s most impressive about her (Locke) is how well she sees the ice,” said Kane. “She controls the puck beyond her years and she has a scoring touch.”
For her part, Locke is just as enthusiastic about starting her high school career with HNAP.
“I’m just so excited about it,” said Locke. “I’ve watched HNAP since I was about 7-years-old and my dad (Brian) took me to a game. I remember saying to myself ‘wow, it’d be so cool to play on that team.’”
Although Locke plans on running cross country at North Andover in the fall (“I do it for the endurance”) and will play lacrosse as a goalie in the spring, hockey is her passion. She’s been playing since kindergarten and the sport runs in the family.
Her father played high school hockey, older brother Nolan plays for the North Andover boys team and younger sister Kamila plays for the Middlesex Islanders.
Assessing her strengths as a hockey player, Locke says that it’s “seeing the ice and making plays — just providing offense.”
And it doesn’t matter to her how it happens.
“If I make a really good pass or if I score a goal, it makes me happy — scoring and passing are equal for me,” she said. “I just get a lot of joy out of playing hockey.”
With that kind of approach, it’s likely that Kane and next year’s HNAP team will find lots of joy as well.