With a nifty infusion of talent from AAA programs, the Plymouth-Canton-Salem Penguins are poised to attack opponents this winter in the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League.
Second-year head coach Jenna Donnelly is enthused about the 2015-16 season, which got off to a great start Nov. 18 with an 8-1 rout of Ann Arbor Pioneer.
In that contest, senior forward Megan Brace scored a hat trick while junior forward Catherine VandenBosch and sophomore winger Michelle Cirino each netted two goals.
The Penguins returned to action Tuesday at Canton Arctic Edge Arena against Livonia Ladywood.
“Our entire squad of new players are key for us,” noted Donnelly, in a recent e-mail to the Observer. “Cathryn VandenBosch and Savina Osann are fresh from AAA and are expected to make huge impacts for us this year.
“Grace Balch, Marnie Waggoner, Rachel Lanzilotti, Brooke Gauthier and Piper Keranen all are strong players who will add some much needed depth to our roster.”
The Penguins, with players from all three high schools at Plymouth-Canton Educational Park, do have a handful of important returning players — particularly senior forward and team captain Brace.
“She’s the heart of the team,” Donnelly said. “And we’ll look for a strong season from her both on and offf the ice.”
Assistant captains Brianna Waggoner (junior forward) and Natalie Nowicki (senior goalie) also will be instrumental as the Penguins intend to become a championship contender.
Donnelly said Waggoner and Nowicki have strong leadership qualities that will be a “huge asset for our young team.”
PCS’ top blueliner is senior returnee Gabrielle Godre, who will be leaned on “heavily for high minutes and defensive leadership for our young group of defensemen.”
Another returnee is sophomore forward Cirino, who “thrived last year as a freshman” and is expected to keep up the offensive pressure this winter. Judging by her two-goal output against Pioneer, she is ready for the challenge.
With 11 returnees, the Penguins’ roster is a deep one.
Also on the blueline will be juniors Bryanna Lanzilotti, Alexis Pheeney and sophomores Paige Sweet and Morgan Gagnon.
Junior forwards Serina Eadeh and Jessica Marek are players with the capability to provide timely offense.
Meanwhile, VandenBosch and Osann spearhead the new wave of AAA players that will help carry the Penguins.
But Donnelly also has high hopes for the other newcomers. Those include freshman forwards Waggoner, Rachel Lanzilotti, Gauthier, Keranen and freshman defenseman Balch.