15 CHSGHA girls ice hockey players to watch in 2021

Kate Bellissimo, Sr., F, Darien: A three-sport star, Bellissimo was a top weapon for the Wave when they won the FCIAC championship last winter. With the graduation of some key forwards, Bellissimo will look to step up again this winter. Bellissimo has committed to play lacrosse at Stanford next year.

Mackenzie Chapman, Sr., F, Simsbury: Chapman was an All-CCC first team and GameTimeCT All-State second team player as a junior, and will be key for Simsbury as it looks to defend the conference championship. Simsbury was consistently at or near the top of last year’s rankings and was the No. 1 seed when the state playoffs were canceled in the semifinal round.

Jianna Cohrs, Sr., F, West Haven/SHA: Jianna Cohrs collected 33 points on 15 goals and 18 assists as part of West Haven’s “Conehead” line last season. With 63 career points, she’ll be a prime scoring option for the team as it again contends for an SCC championship.

Meghan Croyle, Jr., F, ETB: A junior forward, Croyle has racked up 27 goals and 17 assists for 44 points the past two seasons, and led the team with a +12 rating last winter. She also has a career winning percentage of .561 in the faceoff circle.

Lexi Danielson, Jr., F, Greenwich: Danielson is a leading scoring threat for a Greenwich team that should again be in the hunt for a conference title. She’s topped 20 points in each of her first two seasons, with 28 (10 goals, 18 assists) as a freshman, and 22 (10 goals, 12 assists) last winter.

Maddie Epke, Jr., F, Guilford: Epke has been a scoring machine for Guilford, racking up 85 goals and 47 assists in two seasons. Last year, she earned the SCC Player of the Year award with 59 goals and 30 assists. That included one of the season’s most memorable performances when she had five goals and two assists as Guilford rallied from a four-goal deficit to beat West Haven/SHU 7-6 in the Connecticut Ice Girls High School Hockey Showcase.

Kaleigh Harden, Jr., F, New Canaan: The dynamic forward led the Rams’ offense with 20 goals and 22 assists for 42 points last season, giving her two-year totals of 36 goals, 39 assists, and 75 points. She’s twice been named to the CHSGHA All-State and All-FCIAC first teams, and was a GameTimeCT first team player last year. New Canaan has many weapons, and Harden is the clear top option.

McKenna Harden, Sr., D, New Canaan: A four-year starter, Harden is a team captain this season and will once again anchor a tough New Canaan defense. She’s also a threat on the offensive end, with seven goals and 15 assists during the past two seasons. Harden was named to the GameTimeCT second team and the All-FCIAC first team last winter.

Bethany Karp, Sr., G, Milford co-op: Karp was a CHSGA All-State and All-SCC first team goalie as a junior. She posted some eye-popping numbers against top contenders, including a 60-save performance in a 5-2 win over eventual SCC champion Guilford in February. Karp was also a GameTimeCT All-State second team selection last winter.

Nelle Kniffin, Sr., F, Darien: Kniffin scored five goals and dished out a team-high 15 assists while helping lead Darien to its FCIAC championship in three seasons last winter. She earned CHSGHA All-State and All-FCIAC first team honors as a junior, and will be a key to the Blue Wave’s bid to repeat as conference champs.

Shelby Little, Jr., D., Avon co-op: Little is one of the state’s top returning defenders, after earning CHSGHA All-State and All-CCC first team honors as a sophomore. She has shown an offensive touch as well, collecting 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points in 17 games last year. Avon, the CCC runner-up last year, should again be in contention for the league crown..

Mary McKiernan, Jr., D, ETB: McKiernan is a puck-moving defender and provides ETB with a scorer’s touch as well. In her first two years, she has collected 23 goals and 18 assists for 41 points. With All-State goalie Caitlyn Caldon having graduated, McKiernan’s experience on the defensive end will be key for the Storm.

Sophia Mughal, Sr., F, Fairfield: Mughal is the top returning forward for the Fairfield co-op team, which has been an FCIAC semifinalist the past two seasons. She’s scored 19 or more goals in each of her first three campaigns, and has 64 for her career. That includes a 24-point, 11 assist performance as a junior. She was named to the GameTimeCT All-State and All-FCIAC second teams last winter.

Blythe Novick, Sr., G, New Canaan: The state’s top returning goalie, Novick has been starting for the Rams since her freshman season, putting up stellar career numbers with a .932 save percentage, a 44-12-3 record, and 19 shutouts, including seven last season. She’s also come up big against rival Darien, going 7-3 in three seasons. Novick has also been named to the CHSGHA All-State and All-FCIAC first team honors for three consecutive seasons, and was a GameTimeCT All-State first team player last year.

Delaney Roth, Sr., D, Greenwich: Roth was part of an impressive Cardinals’ defense, which surrendered just 24 goals in 20 games last season. Greenwich allowed one or fewer goals 12 times, including one-goal efforts against Simsbury and Darien twice each, and New Canaan once. With a couple of graduations from that D, Roth will take on a bigger role, as the Cards look to continue the defensive trend.

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports