WEST CHESTER, Pa. -- When Cindy Toye was growing up in a hockey family in Brick, New Jersey, she had two options.
Toye could play near home on boys’ teams or she could make the 40-mile, one-way commute to play girls’ hockey for the Princeton Tiger Lilies.
She chose both.
Now, Toye is active in making sure the latest generation of girls growing up in Brick have more options when it comes to hockey.
In just the second season of Brick Hockey Club girls’ hockey, that option has evolved into being part of a team that is headed to the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 16U National Championships in Barre, Vermont, March 31-April 4.
Brick started with a 16U team last year. Several of those players moved up so now the program has both 16U and 19U teams.
Even with the players that aged out a year ago and the need to replace them with some youngsters, the second-year 16U team found success under Toye, a former player at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
After losing a shootout in the Atlantic District finals in its debut season, Brick came back in year two to win the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association and district titles on the 16U Tier II level.
“It was tough because a lot of our girls still play boys’ hockey and a lot of our girls still play [high school] varsity hockey as well,” Toye said. “A lot of times we didn’t have a lot of players.”
Instead of 14 players skating, Brick picked up 16U wins with as few as seven or eight players in some league games.
“They were scrapping to get wins,” Toye said.
At full strength for districts, Brick avenged its only regular-season loss, sweeping the Quakers 2-0, 6-1, in a best-of-three series at the Ice Line Quad Rinks.
“They just really work well together,” said Toye, who grew up with three brothers playing hockey and is the granddaughter of Bob Auriemma, New Jersey’s all-time leader in high school hockey coaching victories. “They pass the puck really well to each other.”
Toye went to nationals in Omaha with her 12-year-old boys’ team as a player.
“I told the girls this is really special,” Toye said. “You’ve got to savor every moment.”
Kate Brezniak helped make that national tournament moment possible for the Brick girls with her play in goal at districts. She had a 17-save shutout March 12 in the series opener and made 14 more saves the next day.
McKenna Naumchik scored the first goal and assisted on the second in the 2-0 win.
The Quakers led game two, 1-0, before Brick scored six goals in the final 20 minutes.
Kyley Toye, the coach’s daughter, scored the tying goal late in the second period and added an assist. She also had scored the second goal in the opening game.
Cassie Campbell scored a power-play goal 16 seconds into the third period for the game-winner.
Caitlyn Kennan finished with two goals while Naumchik and Karli Lafferty each had a goal and two assists.
The nationals trip is not the first for every Brick player.
Tabitha Franceschini, whose father Jay is the assistant coach, and Sabrina Madson made it while playing with the Tiger Lilies before Brick had a girls’ team.
Campbell’s boys’ team also made the district tournament. Kyley Toye also plays on a 12U boys’ team.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.