Caroline English is a hockey player with a rare mix of skills: She’s both aggressive and lighthearted and that combination has taken her places in her collegiate career. The 22-year-old junior at Holy Cross College has come a long way since her days in the Dorchester Youth Hockey League. Now she scores game-winning goals against University of Massachusetts Boston, as she did this past Saturday.
In the three years the Dorchester native has been playing on Holy Cross’s women’s hockey team, she has notched 53 points and has been named ECAC Rookie of the Week, AT&T Crusader of the Week, and to the ECAC All-Academic Team.
This season she was voted assistant captain of her team and elected to the Jansen Leadership Academy.
English is a player who constantly motivates her teammates, according to her coach, Peter Van Buskirk.
“She has such a positive attitude and she is able to connect with everyone. She’s always upbeat and maintains that attitude regardless of what happens on the ice,” Van Buskirk said.
English joined St. Ann’s Color Guard with her sister when she was six years old, but abandoned it a year later for hockey. She broke in her first pair of skates fifteen years ago at the Devine Ice Rink in Neponset.
Her best friend, Jimmy Hayes — who recently made his NHL debut on the Chicago Blackhawks — played the sport. “I wanted to be like him, so that’s really how I started,” said English.
A self-proclaimed tomboy, she joined the Dorchester Youth Hockey League, where her teammates were almost all boys.
English’s mother, Moira, remembers a game where Caroline went down hard on the ice and her father, Jim, didn’t think she was going to get back up. “After that, the boys always had her back,” said Moira.
Aside from her DYH experience, English also skated for Charles River Girls Hockey and at Boston Latin Academy. She was accepted into Tabor Academy as a sophomore and played there for three years, where she was the captain of her team.
English was recruited by Van Buskirk and he has not been disappointed. “She’s been a first-line player since she arrived. She had very good skating speed, was very competitive, and good puck skills. I was happy to recruit her,” he said.
Fresh off her team’s latest win, English was eager to talk about Saturday’s game.
“It felt really good. I’ve been in a funk with scoring. [Teammate] Stacey Hochkiss kept setting me up and I kept missing so it felt good to finally put it in the net,” said English of her game-winning goal.
When English isn’t playing hockey, she spends time mentoring young students at Quinsigamond Elementary School in Worcester, where she has worked for the past three years. She helps her coach at the school’s ice rink sharpening skates, and also works at a coffee shop on campus. She hopes to work with kids after graduating.
“I love working with kids. I have a lot of little cousins that I see all the time,” she said.
Moira is very close to her daughter and is proud how Caroline has developed as a hockey player and a person. “She puts her heart and soul into the game. It’s a thrilling ride to watch her,” she says.