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Aurora — Kelly Sheridan’s off-season dedication paid off with a fine senior year as a member of the top forward line for the Aurora ice hockey team. Sheridan, a left winger, was an assistant team captain.
“Kelly brought a lot to our program,” said her father and coach John Sheridan. “She was a hard-working, quiet leader and one of our better skaters. Forechecking and backchecking were her strong suits. Her passing improved. She got better this year in most all aspects of the game. She was steady and consistent.”
Kelly played on the Greenmen’s top forward line along with junior center Brandt Vermillion, the team captain, and right winger Nick Capretta. Kelly was one of the team’s top scorers with two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 16 games, respectable statistics for any player.
“I thought I played a lot better this year than last year,” she said. “After last season, I wanted to improve on my shooting, my skating speed and explosiveness, and being more aggressive.”
The father-daughter relationship became one of a coach and player during games.
“My dad is such a good coach, I don’t even think of him as my dad during the games,” Kelly said.
Her father said, “Before and after a game, she was my daughter. But as a coach, I watched her as just another player until somebody would knock her 5 feet through the air, but she always got up. She took some hits. There were some big guys out there, and they didn’t hold back because she was a girl.”
Kelly said she has a high tolerance for pain. “When I got hit, I got right back up,” she said. However, she broke her left wrist and missed the final four games.
Ironically, the injury happened during the team’s only victory — a 4-2 win over Notre Dame Cathedral Latin — when she accidentally bumped into a teammate on the ice during the second period.
PRIOR TO THE third and final period, she displayed her leadership skills, urging on her teammates in the locker room before heading to the hospital.
Her father said her injury “was frustrating, but she handled it well. She really liked being part of the team. I felt bad for her. She was taking more steps to being a better player. When you have little depth on your team to begin with, you don’t want to lose one of your key players.”
Next season, Kelly is looking forward to attending Slippery Rock (Pa.) University, where she plans to major in special education and early childhood education while playing for the girls club hockey team.
“We’re going to miss Kelly — on and off the ice,” the coach said. “I’m proud of all our seniors.”
Other seniors were assistant team captain and defenseman Ken Pope, defenseman Alex Avalon and forward Joel Stell.
AHS had two other females — junior winger Emily Boysza and freshman winger Sakurako Reed. Both were first-year players, and each played in 10 games.
“Emily and Sakurako are both hard workers,” the coach said. “They have the right attitudes. They improved drastically from November to mid-February. That inspired them to work to get more ice time. But they also learned a lot watching from the bench. We’re happy both of them are on board.”
Emily played after learning how to skate last summer. “I expected it to be hard, but our coaches made it easier. They were encouraging,” she said. “I had a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to next season. We really progressed this season.”
Sakurako learned how to skate forward when she was younger, but she had to learn how to skate backward last summer.
“I improved my overall skating,” she said. “Playing on the team was a lot of fun. I’m going to work on my backward skating so I can play defense next season.”
The coach said both players “know what they have to do to get better. It’s up to them how much they play next year.”
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