Walpole Girls Hockey Captains Participate in Shriners Charity Hockey Game


Callie Ross, Opinion Editor

Walpole High School’s Girls Hockey captains, Meghan Hamilton and Madison Ryan, participated in the seventh annual Shriners All Star Girls Hockey Classic at the Canton Ice House on March 31. The Shriners hockey game features the top players in Massachusetts to help raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Massachusetts coaches nominate players, and the coaches of the charity game choose the strongest nominations. Hamilton and Ryan were the first Walpole High School Girls Hockey players to be involved in the Shriners Charity game.

Meghan Hamilton played for team South in the charity game.

The members of the team must be a junior or senior, have to be nominated by their coach, and their coach must be a member of the Massachusetts High School Coaches Association,” said John Findley, coach of Notre Dame Academy’s varsity ice hockey team and coach of team South for the Shriners game. “After I receive the nominations, I go and watch every girl nominated, and my coaching staff and I pick the roster based on talent and position. We try to limit team member to only two per school, but sometimes it’s very difficult when you have so many talented teams and many deserving athletes.”

The chosen players are then placed on North and South teams, depending on what part of Massachusetts they are from. Hamilton and Ryan played for team South. After an intense game, team South lost 4-3.

“The money we raised goes to the Shriners Hospital to help the less fortunate, mainly burn victims, that cannot get the medical attention they need. Our goal was to raise money, not just to win,” Hamilton said.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a nonprofit organization where specialists treat children who have spinal cord injuries, cleft palates, cleft lips, severe burns or need orthopedic surgeries, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. There are 22 Shriners Hospitals across the United States, including one in Boston, dedicated to helping children. The Shriners’ boys and girls charity hockey games raised $35,000 this year for families with children who cannot afford their procedures.

“Playing in the Shriners game was pretty cool because we got to be a part of something so nice for others, and it was definitely an honor to be named one of the best players in Massachusetts,” Hamilton said.

Although they lost to the North team, team South played an intense game. Hamilton scored an unassisted goal in the first period, putting her team in the lead at 2-1. Ryan aggressively defended against team North in efforts to prevent any scoring opportunities.

“It was a great experience to get to represent Walpole and play with the best players in Massachusetts,” Ryan said.

Hamilton has been playing hockey since she was five years old, and she plans to continue playing at Plymouth State University next year. Ryan started her hockey career in second grade and wants to continue next year, potentially playing club hockey at Saint Anselm’s College. Both girls play together on a club hockey team, the Spitfires, during their off season.

“I think the sport is unique compared to other sports. Being part of a team is easily the best part of hockey because there is a special bond and each person is valued,” Ryan said.

The Walpole Girls hockey team, led by captains Hamilton and Ryan, finished their season with a winning record of 18-4-1, bringing them to the semi-finals of the 2019 MIAA Division 2 Playoffs.

“[Hamilton] and [Ryan] were two of my favorite players at the Shriners Game. Very tough and gritty ice hockey players, and it was just a pleasure to coach them. There couldn’t have been two more deserving athletes on my team, and the heart they show and the enthusiasm in the game was amazing. I would coach these girls in any sport. They are two great kids and two great hockey players,” Findley said.