State title run highlights big hockey season for Albion junior
Capping off a memorable season, Albion High junior Monica Benjovsky recently helped lead the Monroe County Youth Hockey Edge U16 team to the New York State Amateur Hockey state championships.
Monica, who plays defense, is in her third year with the Edge which lost to Potsdam in the state championship game.
Seeded No. 1 from the West Division, the Edge went 2-1 in the opening round of the tournament of the state tournament, then defeated defending champion St. Lawrence 2-1 in the semifinals before dropping a 3-1 decision to Potsdam in the finals.
“They are the greatest group of girls and I have amazing coaches,” said Monica of her Edge team. “Playing with them has been enjoyable every step of the way. A great moment was the championship game in the New York State Amateur Hockey League State Tournament. It was a good hard fight and I am so very proud of the determination and commitment of my team. We played our hearts out. Such a good memory.”
Monica, who also plays varsity soccer and tennis at Albion High, has been enjoying skating on the ice for virtually all of her life.
“I started skating with my older sister Kali and twin brother Dyer when I was 3,” she said. “My grandpa had purchased my sister some figure skates. She wanted to take figure skating lessons, so we all took learn to skate lessons at the same time. We have an older cousin, whom we have always idolized, that plays hockey. Once my twin brother Dyer and I learned how to skate, we thought that we might like to be like our cousin Kyle and play hockey too. Dyer and I started playing hockey when we were 5.”
And Monica, who is also talented in the classroom ranking 11th in her class, credits her close ties with her twin brother as key in keeping her involved with and enthused about playing hockey.
” Funny story, just shorty after I started hockey, when I was probably 6 or 7, I had decided that I didn’t really want to play anymore. BUT!!!, I felt that couldn’t quit because I would be letting Dyer down. At the time, I felt like I needed to take care of him and that he needed me,” she said. “It wasn’t the case of course, but I like to mother him, haha. I am so thankful that I didn’t give in to my feelings on not letting Dyer down, otherwise, I wouldn’t be playing today. I played on the same team with him and his friends until I was 14. The majority of the boys on that team have stayed together until this very day. I became so close to them, consider them family, and will always cherish those memories with that team.”
And though she plays other sports, Monica’s heart certainly belongs with hockey.
“This might sound corny, but I love the feel of the ice on my blades, the sound the blades make on the ice, the smell of the fresh cut ice, the coolness of the rink”, she said. “It’s in my blood, I crave those feelings. I love the physical demands of the sport, to be in shape, to push myself to the next level, to keep pushing regardless of how tired I am. I love the bonds that I make with my teammates and their families. I love my teammates families. I love the game itself. There is literally no greater game that the game of hockey. ”
She also credits one of her long-time coaches for her success on the ice.
“I had a coach for a number of years when playing with the boys that has been the most influential person in my hockey career. His name is Coach Adam Driscoll. He is my favorite memory and favorite coach from all my years in hockey,” said Monica. “He gave me so much confidence in my abilities. He has so much faith in what I can accomplish. To this day,, he still takes interest in my hockey and supports my endeavors. He is a incredible person and an incredible role model as well.”
Monica, who is now busy practicing with the Albion High tennis squad along with her brother Dyer and sister Kali, looks forward to continuing her career on the ice.
“I hope to continue with the Edge girls team for the 2014/15 hockey season,” she said. “The year after that, I plan to attend college with hopes of playing ladies hockey for a college. ”
Monica, whose edge team played in both the Great Lakes Girls Hockey League in Western New York and the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League in Canada this season, will be attending a Rush Hockey Showcase in Toronto in June, a Rush Hockey Camp in Toronto in June and the Boston Bean Town Classic Showcase Tournament in July.