Girls hockey preview: Depth an issue for Ridgefield

Emily Stefanelli takes a backhand shot in a game against Greenwich last season.

Emily Stefanelli takes a backhand shot in a game against Greenwich last season.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

Even though the Ridgefield/Danbury co-op girls hockey team had only one senior on last season’s roster, departures have taken a bite out of the team’s skill and depth.

Several top players either transferred to prep school or opted not to return, leaving the Tigers with question marks.

“We do have a good core,” coach Lauren Lubrano said, “but it is a small core.”

With only 12 skaters — three of the team’s 15 players are goalies —Ridgefield will have to get creative.

“Players might need to play in different roles,” Lubrano said. “We might have to juggle lines and hope our defense can also contribute a lot to the offense.”

Seniors Chiara Signorelli, Zella Ertl and Aubrey White are the team’s captains. Signorelli anchors the defense, and White will be one of the team’s regular forwards. Ertl has also played as a forward in previous seasons but may switch to defense this year.

“We played Zella on defense in our preseason jamboree,” Lubrano said. “We might need to have her play there during the regular season.”

Juniors Emily Steffanelli and Kate Zangre were two of Ridgefield’s best forwards last season and will lead the offense this winter. “They are both very good players,” Lubrano said. “We might put them on different lines to spread out the scoring.”

Another junior forward, Rebecca Gartner, is also back and will likely play on one of the top two lines along with White.

Two more juniors, Jaime Kunzmann and Ira Simpson, contributed as forwards in 2018-19 and might have bigger roles this season.

Sophomore newcomer Camille Patry-Beran could also earn a spot on one of Ridgefield’s top lines.

Along with Signorelli, junior Ali Caiola returns on defense for the Tigers. If Ertl moves to the blue line, Ridgefield will have three quality players back there.

“They may have to play a lot,” Lubrano said. “I’m not sure if we will have a fourth player on defense.”

Ridgefield should be strong in goal with the return of senior Kendal Mountain, who played well as a starter last season. Backup Reagan Bonadies (another senior) is also back.

“We should be all set with goalies,” Lubrano said. “Kendal and Reagan both are experienced.”

Notes: The Tigers went 8-11-1 last season, failing to qualify for either the FCIAC or state tournaments.

Ridgefield’s roster also includes sophomore forwards Emma Alessi and Taryn Furey and freshman goalie Bella Crowley.

The Tigers open the season this Friday (5 p.m.) on the road against Hamden. Ridgefield’s first home game is Saturday night at 8:50 p.m. against Trumbull/St. Joseph at the Winter Garden.