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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nashua’s Robbins hits her stride for Sacred Heart hockey team

College Journal

Athletes who move up from high school to college often say the speed of the game is the biggest adjustment.

It wasn’t necessarily that way for Nashua’s Melissa Robbins, a sophomore forward on the Sacred Heart University women’s ice hockey team. ...

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Athletes who move up from high school to college often say the speed of the game is the biggest adjustment.

It wasn’t necessarily that way for Nashua’s Melissa Robbins, a sophomore forward on the Sacred Heart University women’s ice hockey team.

Because for most of her life Robbins played on boys teams, including four years of high school hockey at Nashua High School North.

The speed of the game was hardly Robbins’ biggest challenge last year. She was attempting to come back, perhaps too soon, from knee surgery.

But perhaps the toughest transition was balancing a demanding academic schedule as a nursing major while playing a varsity sport.

Robbins says she’s a lot more comfortable this winter, and she’s proving it. Her hat trick Saturday against Wesleyan – the first of her college career – gave her nine goals in 16 games, just one short of her season total a year ago.

“I think she’s just coming into her own,” Sacred Heart head coach Thomas O’Malley said. “We knew she was a player when she got her, but we didn’t know she become one of the faces of our program.

“She’s on our top line, our power play, she kills penalty and she has jets, she can really skate.”

She was second on the team in scoring last year. This year she leads the way.

“One of the big things is having great line mates,” Robbins said. “Since this line was put together we’ve really clicked.”

While many of her teammates and opponents played on girls teams in high school or prep programs, Robbins has no regrets about playing boys hockey in high school.

“I know it made me a better player,” Robbins said. “It was quicker and more physical so I tried to get rid of the puck quickly. Now I have a little more time with the puck on my stick.

“It also gave me the opportunity to play with my brother (Brendan) for a couple of years.”

The physical nature of the boys’ game was always a concern for the 5-foot-7 Robbins. But she managed to avoid any major injuries, only suffering what she called “a minor concussion.”

Her knee injury occurred in club soccer during the spring of her senior year. After surgery, she spent four months in rehabilitation before taking the ice as a freshman at Sacred Heart.

“I probably came back a little too quickly,” Robbins said, “and I really wasn’t 100 percent until the second half of the season.”

Robbins started out on the fourth line as a freshman, but it wasn’t long before O’Malley realized what he had.

“She really took off after Christmas last year,” O’Malley said, “and she’s been one of our top players ever since.”

JENNIFER FRENCH

Keene State College’s Jennifer French, of Nashua, won the 500-meter freestyle for the school’s nationally-ranked swimming team last weekend in a dual meet victory over Roger Williams.

French, a Nashua North graduate, covered the distance in 5 minutes, 24.83 seconds.

KELLY MORGAN

Junior guard Kelly Morgan, of Brookline, is off to a great start for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute women’s basketball team.

Morgan, who had a career-high 18 points in a victory over MIT, is second on the team in scoring overall at 10.4 points per game.

KATIE STOPERA

Freshman guard Katie Stopera, of Hollis, is off to a strong start for the Southern Connecticut women’s basketball team.

Through eight games, including five as a starter, Stopera is averaging 6.8 points per game and 25.9 minutes.

JANE WHITE

Freshman guard Jane White continues to be a spark off the bench for the unbeaten Bentley University women’s basketball team, currently ranked second in the country.

White had 14 points in just 19 minutes in a victory over Franklin Pierce, and eight more in a battle of unbeatens victory over Stonehill on Saturday.

CHRISTAN WOJTAS

Christan Wojtas, a sophomore from Amherst, is the leading scorer and rebounder so far for the Keene State College women’s basketball team.

Through eight games Wojtas is averaging 12.4 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Owls, including 16 points in each of her last two games.

RACHAEL CARTER

Sophomore Rachael Carter, of Merrimack, continues to lead the Salem State women’s basketball team in just about every statistical category.

Through nine games Carter is averaging a team best 15.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. Her 41 assists top the team, and she’s second in steals with 21.

JAMIE ZAJAC, TYLER GENDRON

Senior Jamie Zajac and freshman Tyler Gendron, both from Merrimack, are second and third in scoring, respectively, for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute basketball team.

Zajac, a Bishop Guertin graduate, is averaging 12.0 points per game and has a team-high 24 assists through eight games.

Gendron is averaging 10.4 points and leads the team in 3-pointers (21) and 3-point field goal percentage (46 percent).

CONNOR GREEN

Freshman Connor Green, who led Bishop Guertin to the 2011 Division I title, is averaging 9.1 points per game coming off the bench for Amherst College.

Green, who played last winter at Phillips Exeter, leads non starters in minutes played, averaging 17.4.

JAMIE HOLDER

Freshman Jamie Holder, of Milford, has earned a spot in the starting lineup for the Concordia College men’s basketball team.

Holder is averaging 6.5 points and is second for Concordia with 2.3 assists per game.