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04/18/2023 12:37 PM

Farace a Versatile and Positive Player for Grizzlies Girls’ Ice Hockey

Freshman center Hailey Farace proved to be a versatile and important player in her first season with the Guilford girls’ ice hockey co-op team. Photo courtesy of Hailey Farace

Hailey Farace has always been drawn to the ice. From the time she was little to when she entered high school, ice hockey has been a passion of hers. The dedication she has to the game shined through as she proved to be a valuable and versatile player for the Guilford girls’ ice hockey co-op team this winter.

The freshman center has been skating on the ice since she was four years old, and while growing her skills and progressing as a hockey player, she has also enjoyed serving as a mentor for younger players.

“I always wanted to play, and I started playing with the Shoreline Sharks program,” says Hailey. “Now I enjoy helping other young hockey players learn the sport.”

Hailey keeps herself busy in the athletic world, as she still plays for the Sharks on top of also participating in lacrosse and field hockey for the Grizzlies.

Guilford girls’ ice hockey Head Coach Rick Binkowski admires Hailey for her versatility and flexibility to play multiple positions, something that served her team very well throughout the campaign.

“She is a strong player, and she did a very good job. A kid who has been playing hockey for a long time, she is an experienced player. She was a center for our second line for most of the season,” says Binkowski. “Our previous challenge this season was developing that team chemistry on and off the ice. As we were developing that throughout the season, towards the end of the season, we moved Hailey to play some time on defense.”

Moving her to defense proved to be critical, as Hailey was able to help move the chains offensively as a result.

“She has a good strong shot and has had some very nice goals this season. Those games when she was back on defense, it really made a big difference for us offensively,” says Binkowski. “It is really counter-intuitive when you take a strong offensive player and put them on defense, and have it actually help you offensively. That is the way it worked out for us, those games at the end of the season when she was playing defense were really great.”

The Grizzlies were a co-op ice hockey squad this winter for the first time, so naturally that came with adjustments and having to build chemistry with girls from other towns. With the competitive hockey that Hailey had previously been involved in, some of those girls were familiar to her, helping to ease her transition from playing middle school to high school hockey.

“It was definitely good with the co-op because I got to play with other people that I have played with before playing travel hockey,” says Hailey. “That definitely helped with the transition. It was challenging at first to form the chemistry. I think our captains definitely helped bring our team together throughout the season.”

Besides her impact on the ice, Hailey was also a positive influence on her team off the ice, bringing a positive attitude to practice every day and easily being able to connect with her teammates.

“She is a bright, happy kid. She got along well with her teammates; she was liked by her teammates,” says Binkowski. “She really helped with forming those bonds, and as a freshman, that can be tough to connect with all of the team. I think that, especially in difficult sports like hockey, when the kids are good players, they tend to be liked more by the team. She has a great personality and is a really nice kid.”

It’s not every day that a freshman gets to see varsity minutes, but because Hailey was so experienced and naturally talented coming in, it was only right that she got that opportunity.

“I thought it was really good, and it was good to know that I was contributing as a freshman; it just made me feel good,” says Hailey. “In the playoffs my coach pulled me back to play defense to help because he knew that I was strong everywhere on the ice. I think it positively impacted the team because I was helping and knowing that I was doing something for the team.”

Farace played in 21 games this season, totaling eight goals and two assists.

During the second matchup of the season with the West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy co-op team, the Grizzlies walked away with a 2-1 victory, a game that really stood out for Hailey among the memories that were formed.

“We came off of an overtime loss the first time that we played them, and I think as a whole we really stepped up,” says Hailey. “We showed them that we can beat them at their home rink.”

With Hailey still being so young with a lot of time left in her high school tenure, Binkowski looks forward to seeing her continue to grow and be a force to be reckoned with on the ice no matter what position she’s playing.

“I am looking forward to the fact that she is going to be a good two-way player, playing both offense and defense. With these teams, having different kids coming in every year and losing seniors every year, you never really know where your strengths and weaknesses are going to lie season to season,” says Binkowski. “It is good to have players that can take on multiple roles for you, and it makes our jobs as coaches a lot easier, putting the best team on the ice. I look for her to continue to do that, excel in her skills, and be able to help us on both ends of the ice.”

Being the team player that she is, Hailey looks forward to continuing to form special bonds with her teammates while making the best impact that she can on her squad.

“Next year I am looking forward to playing with the co-op, I think we are co-oping with Branford, East Haven, Coginchaug, and North Branford,” says Hailey. “Just having those other teams join and continue to develop the connection with the fellow teammates.”