Ice Hockey

Brooke Avery fights through growing pains after transfer from New Hampshire

Kali Bowden | Staff Photographer

Brooke Avery (21) has scored two goals through 11 games after transferring from New Hampshire.

Five minutes into the first period of Syracuse’s second win of the season, Brooke Avery called for the puck as she skated along the blue line. As she focused on the incoming pass, Avery failed to notice the lurking defender.

The two collided and SU’s opponent, Lindenwood, corralled the loose puck and took it into its offensive zone. Avery laid on the ice, and after a minute passed, she rose and skated to the bench hunched over.

The SU forward found herself at the wrong place. But in her next line shift, Avery was back on the ice showing no signs of the collision she endured.

“She’s a little up and down. A little rollercoaster at times emotionally,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “But I can see it starting to level off.”

Avery, like former Orange goalie Jenn Gilligan, transferred to Syracuse from New Hampshire entering her junior year. In her first season at SU, Avery has become a part of a Syracuse (3-6-3, 3-2-1 College Hockey America) team that has struggled to find wins early in the season. After lacking playing time, Avery believes that regardless of the growing pains, she is at the right school.

A few years ago, the redshirt junior was recruited by UNH and SU. Opting to stay close to home, Avery chose UNH, approximately 45 miles from her hometown. Over her 36 games in 2014-15 as Wildcat, Avery tallied one goal and one assist. In her first 11 games for the Orange, Avery already has two goals. She’s one of only six players to have multiple goals this season.

Avery redshirted her sophomore season at UNH. Looking for a combination of competitive hockey and challenging academics, Avery joined the Orange with the intent to transfer into the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications next semester.

“It has been a difficult transition for me, but sometimes it is easier to just play hockey,” Avery said.

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Kali Bowden | Staff Photographer

Avery uses her large frame and rugged mentality to make an impact anyway she can. In the first six games of the season, the Orange averaged 23 shots a game.

Struggling on offense, the team began to shoot more pucks in order to pressure the goaltender and allow forwards to crash the net and knock in rebound shots. The change in strategy has allowed Avery to thrive. In its last six games, the Orange has averaged 30 shots per game and Avery has scored twice.

“You can see she has her moments where she lets loose and plays,” Flanagan said.

At UNH, Avery was used to playing a slower style of hockey since UNH’s Whittemore Center Arena is 15 feet wider than SU’s Tennity Ice Pavilion, Flanagan said.

“It’s a lake at Whittemore,” Flanagan said.

Avery has benefitted from the smaller dimensions as she can utilize her 5-foot-10 body to impose herself on defenses.

A smaller rink forces players to react faster. For Avery, the tighter confines of Tennity allow her to just play and not worry about the challenge that accompanies transferring programs.

“She’s starting to grasp it,” Flanagan said. “Given some time, she can have a big impact on her team.”

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