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On The Hunt

By Clara Boudette, 04/03/24, 2:15PM MDT


Two-time national champion coaching duo hoping to lead Lovell Academy to first Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — For one pair of coaches, Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships are a familiar scene.

Caitrin Lonergan and Bridget McCarthy met at 10 years old when they skated for Assabet Valley, a girls hockey program in Concord, Mass., before playing collegiately for Boston College.

Years later, the pair still share the ice, now as coaches for Lovell Academy’s 14U girls team. 

“It’s been really cool,” said Lonergan, a two-time member of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team and two-time Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist during her collegiate career, on sharing a bench with her best friend. “Both of us actually grew up skating with Tim Lovell, the owner, so when he called us to coach Lovell Academy it was a no-brainer.”

While Lonergan serves as head coach, she leans on assistant coach McCarthy, who played on the back end in college, when it comes to defending. It’s their mutual trust and shared hockey upbringing that allows them to work in an effective tandem.

Lovell Academy’s 14U team, in just its second season, entered the Girls Tier 1 14U tournament with the top overall seed after winning the Massachusetts State Championship.

While it’s the team’s first time at the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships, it’s a familiar scene for it’s two coaches, who won a pair of national titles with Assabet Valley.

“I look back on those weeks and have such great memories,” said McCarthy on her time at nationals. “For us, we’re just really excited for them.”

Lonergan and McCarthy reflect on their own experience in the national tournament to both mentally and physically prepare their team to face some of the best teams in the country. 

“It’s the best 16 teams in the country, so every game no matter how low or high your ranking is you have to go in and play hard because everyone’s going to give you the best game,” said Lonergan.

The preparation paid off. Lovell Academy earned a 10-2 victory over Team North Dakota in its first game. Every 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships contest will stream live on

Being back at nationals is also an opportunity for the coaching duo to reflect on and experience the massive growth of girls hockey. 

Lonergan and McCarthy remember seeing many of the same teams at nationals each year during their playing days. . Today, they’re blown away by the talent pool with teams and players from every corner of the country, including less traditional hockey states like Florida, Kentucky, and Arizona.

Another change they’ve noticed? More women behind the bench.

“Caitrin and I never had female coaches growing up until Boston College,” said McCarthy. “It’s really cool to see.”

Despite her success behind the bench, Lonergan isn’t ready to hang up her skates just yet. 

In January, she received a call that, until recently, had seemed like a distant dream.

Lonergan, who skated one season (2022-23) for the Connecticut Whale in the Premier Hockey Federation, was selected 80th overall by Ottawa in the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League draft and later traded to Boston.

Her players were ecstatic to see their coach live out her dreams of playing professional hockey.

“They had a huge watch party in the dorms,” said McCarthy, “I was downstairs and I remember the dorms were shaking the girls screamed so loud.”

Lonergan plans to finish the season with Lovell Academy before joining PWHL Boston for the remainder of the season and playoffs. 

“I kinda thought my hockey career was done in some ways,” said Lonergan. “I know it’s really exciting for the kids that we coach and they’re really looking forward to it. Like I said their dream is to play in this league.”

But for now, McCarthy and Lonergan are focused on one thing— bringing home Lovell Academy’s first 14U national title.

“We know how incredible it feels to win a national championship and we want them to be able to experience that,” said McCarthy. “There’s nothing like it.”

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