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Junior defender Christina Garofalo was an integral figure on all ends of the ice for the Guilford girls’ hockey team this winter, helping the Indians have a historic year that featured a conference title. (Photo courtesy of Christina Garofalo )
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Christina Garofalo laced up her first pair of ice skates when she was just four years old and quickly became fixated on skating as much as she could. Christina was a figure skater for several years, then decided to give ice hockey a shot following some encouragement from Tom Epke, an assistant coach with the Guilford girls’ hockey squad.
“When I was 10, Tom Epke asked me if I wanted to try hockey out, and here I am,” Christina says. “[Epke’s daughter] Maddie and I have played together for a while now, and hockey has just become a great passion of mine.”
Christina is a junior defender on an Indians’ team that had an outstanding campaign in which it notched 17 victories and claimed its first Southern Connecticut Conference title this winter. Christina had several big moments for Guilford along the way, including the game-winning overtime goal when the Indians earned a 7-6 overtime victory against West Haven-Sacred Heart Academy on Feb. 21.
“That was such a crazy game. It was awesome scoring the game-winner and seeing how happy all my teammates were while they were hugging me,” says Christina. “You can’t beat that.”
Despite being a defender, Christina still tallied three goals with five assists for Guilford on the season. Christina played an integral role when the Indians defeated Amity-North Haven-Cheshire by a 4-2 score in the SCC championship game. Guilford finished the year with a record of 17-6 and also won a game in the State Tournament.
“It was definitely a learning experience for us. This whole season was. And we gained a lot of confidence along the way,” says Christina. “The best part about this team is we’re not really losing many players, so we’re going to have a core group that’s ready to get after it next year.”
Head Coach Rich Binkowski describes Christina as a skilled skater who has unique abilities. Binkowski says that Christina’s experience in figure skating gives her an advantage as a hockey player.
“Christina is an accomplished figure skater, and that training has given her a skillset that most players don’t have,” Binkowski says. “Christina has a very quick reaction time that renders her almost impossible to beat as a defender. Her explosive skating ability allows us, as coaches, to move her up to offense when we have a power play or when we need to really put pressure on our opponent.”
Christina sharpens her skills by playing hockey on a year-round basis. In addition to competing for Guilford, she also plays club hockey for the Connecticut Polar Bears.
“They have an amazing summer program that gave me the opportunity to be on the ice every day,” says Christina. “And that really helped me improve my skills when it came time for our high school season.”
While she’s dedicated to hockey, Christina still participates in figure skating. Christina just loves gliding across the ice one way or the other.
“I competed in the 2016 and 2017 regionals for figure skating and won in a competition at Lake Placid, so that’s always going to be something I enjoy doing,” Christina says. “I feel like it’s made me a quicker skater, and I’ve seen my game improve every year.”
Christina has already been named one of Guilford’s captains for next season. Coach Binkowski says that every player the team likes working with her.
“Christina is one of the main reasons we will remain a strong team,” says Binkowski. “Her leadership and ability to communicate with the other girls is great, and she’s a true leader.”
In turn, Christina appreciates the positive impact that Binkowski has had on both her and her fellow Indians’ athletes.
“Our head coach takes our team very seriously, and we can all tell that he cares a lot about every single player,” Christina says. “He wants all of us to succeed, and I really appreciate everything he’s taught me along the way.”
Aside from hockey and figure skating, Christina is a stellar student at Guilford High School. Christina plans to continue doing both of her sports after she graduates.
“I definitely want to pursue either sport in college, because they both have had a great impact on my life,” says Christina. “Skating in general is just something I’ll never give up, and I will always enjoy it.”
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