NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College women’s ice hockey program welcomed four players in the Class of 2025, as announced by head coach Erin Hamlen.
“This incoming class is a group of student-athletes who endured a season of unknowns with Covid. They have already proven that they are a resilient group, and we are looking forward to having them bring that mentality to Merrimack Hockey this fall,” Hamlen said. “This class is made up of skilled forwards from Ontario with Team Canada aspirations, a defenseman from British Columbia with poise and puck skills, and a gritty forward from Illinois who is coming off of a USA Hockey National Championship with her U19 team. All four will be welcome additions to our program, and will increase our depth and skill. Welcome to Alexa, Hayley, Maddie, and Tara.”
The four freshmen are joined by three transfers, adding seven new student-athletes to the program for the 2021-22 season. Three newcomers hail from Canada, with two Ontario natives alongside British Columbia. The lone American in the group comes from Illinois, all with a history of high competition and success at the highest levels.
#17 Hayley Chang | Defense | Coquitlam, British Columbia | Delta Academy (CSSHL)
Before Merrimack: Provincial Champion with the Greater Vancouver Comets in 2019… Bronze Medalist in the 2018 Stoney Creek Tournament… Silver Medalist in 2017 World Selects Invitational International Tournament in Italy… Gold Medalist in 2017 Minnesota Spring Tournament… Gold Medalist in 2017 North American Hockey Classic… Gold Medalist in 2016 Top Tier Toronto Tournament… Assistant Captain
of Delta Hockey Academy for Senior Year… Top three in league scoring defensemen during 2019-20 season and Top scorer for Delta Hockey Academy at the CSSHL playoffs that season… Top three in league scoring defensemen during 2018-19 season… Player of the Month for British Columbia Hockey December 2018… Underage in the FMAAA league (major midget/U18) and top five in league scoring
defensemen 2017-18 season.
Personal: Plans to study Criminology and Criminal Justice… Academically was a Top French Immersion Student – Grade 9…Top Student in English 9 and Social Studies 10… Subject of Excellence in Social Studies 9, French 10 and Science 10… Honor Roll with Distinction/Principals list from Grade 9-12…Top Math Student for November in Grade 11… Graduated as a French Immersion Graduate.
Why Merrimack: “I picked Merrimack because I love the focus on building community and supporting students and student athletes. Being a part of a program growing in strength, competing at the highest level while permitting me to continue with my academic goals made Merrimack the perfect choice for me. I really love the supportive and strong coaching staff and am looking forward to being a Warrior!”
#18 Tara Blackburn | Forward | Oakville, Ontario | Etobicoke Dolphins (PWHL)
Before Merrimack: Provincial Championships Gold medal in 2014, 2015 and 2018… Lower Lakes Championships Gold medal in 2014 and 2015… Lower Lakes Championships Silver medal in 2016… Stoney Creek Showcase Gold medal in 2017… Provincial Championships bronze medal in 2019… Ontario U16 Gold medal in 2018… Team Ontario U18 camp invitee.
Personal: Has not declared a major… Four-year Honors student… Has one sibling, Jason, daughter to Lisa and Trent Blackburn.
Why Merrimack: “I chose Merrimack because of the beautiful campus and small community environment. The coaching staff was very enthusiastic and made me feel welcome right away. I felt it was the best place to further my education while playing at the highest level and being a part of a rising program.”
#20 Maddie Gagliano | Forward | Elgin, Illinois | Chicago Mission (AHAI)
Before Merrimack: Two-time National Champion with the Chicago Mission
Personal: Plans to major in Psychology…Has one sibling, Nathan, daughter to Kathy and Jason Gagliano
Why Merrimack: “I picked Merrimack College because it caught my attention right away. I come from a small high school and looking at the number of students at Merrimack it fit perfectly. I was also looking to play college hockey and love the area!”
#26 Alexa Pongo | Forward | Midhurst, Ontario | Kingston Jr. Ice Wolves (PWHL)
Before Merrimack: Two-time U18 Ontario High Performance program attendee… U18 Team Canada program participant… Competed in the U16 Team Ontario match series in Japan and U16 Ontario Summer games… In her final year in the PWHL, finished third in the league with 15 goals and 37 points for the Kingston Jr. Ice Wolves.
Personal: Plans to major in Data Science…Achieved academic honors every year in high school… Has a sibling Chelsey, daughter to Kim and Steve Pongo.
Why Merrimack: “As soon as I visited Merrimack I knew it was the right choice for me, it has a smaller campus, a close-knit community feel, and a lot of different academic choices. Talking to the coaches of the hockey team, I loved the way they discussed the team’s goals, and their culture on and off the ice! Merrimack felt like home right away!”
The Warriors will return to the ice for the new season in September, with the full schedule to be announced soon.
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