MARLBOROUGH, MASS. – It’s been a busy week for Kenzie Kent.
The 18-year-old winger was in Budapest last Sunday, helping the U.S. National Women's Under-18 Team earn a silver medal at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship. Then, Monday night, she landed in Boston. Tuesday morning, she was back in her high school classroom at Nobles. Today, she was at the New England Sports Center, assisting on Rebecca Gilmore’s goal – the eventual game-winner – in a 5-3 Assabet Valley win over Chicago Mission on the opening day of competition at the 2014 USA Hockey-Toyota National Championships.
Kent’s Assabet Valley U19 squad features four players who skated with Team USA in Budapest: Kent, Gilmore, Lexie Laing and Caitrin Lonergan. The rival Chicago Mission contingent had two players who represented the red, white and blue: Sophie Skarzynski and Grace Zarzecki. Assabet Valley and Chicago Mission also collided in last season’s U19 championship game, so suffice it to say, these young women know each other quite well.
“We talked about it all tournament long in Hungary,” said Kent. “We were looking forward to it, but we knew we were going to be a little tired, too. We were all like, ‘see you Wednesday morning.’”
They shook off the cobwebs in a first-game thriller. Chicago Mission was looking for revenge after falling to Assabet Valley in last year’s finale, while the locals were playing a home game of sorts in Marlborough. The result was an intense, skilled and spirited contest well attended by prospecting college coaches.
“The systems are a little different here than what we did in Hungary, but it definitely got better as the game went on,” said Kent.
As for takeaways from her international experience that she might apply here in Marlborough this week, Kent simply said “always being a good teammate – and have fun.”
Sounds like two can’t-miss strategies for a great tournament.