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CL hockey player Walsh must hit the road to follow her passion

February 18, 2016
By Cody Crandall ( , Westfield Republican

Several nights a week around 7 p.m., when a lot high school students are beginning to wind down, two local high school athletes are just getting started.

Senior Jade Walsh (Chautauqua Lake Central School) and senior Lauren Madden (Jamestown High School), who have been teammates in one form or another for the past 14 years, prepare to hop into a car and head to Cazenovia Park in Buffalo, where they will meet their Cazenovia Chiefs 19U girls hockey team for their 9 p.m. practice.

With local numbers in terms of high school girls playing hockey dwindling, both Walsh and Madden wanted to and had to follow their passion, just like some of their past teammates did. Those teammates have included Brianna McFall (State University of New York at Oswego), Pippy Gerace (Cornell University) and Sadie Stuart, who played competitive hockey for the Erie Lady Lions hockey team throughout her time as a student at Falconer Central School.

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Submitted photo
With no local option for girls hockey players, Jamestown’s Lauren Madden, left, and Chautauqua Lake’s Jade Walsh are playing for the Cazenovia Chiefs in Buffalo.

Last March, the Cazenovia Chiefs 19U team had three spots left to fill on their roster. Walsh and Madden along with former Southern Tier teammate Jordan Yaros (Bradford, Pennsylvania) attended tryouts, made the team and have since been enjoying a successful season.

"We skate year-round at Cazenovia, but our season starts in late August and goes through April," Walsh and Madden said. "We are in Buffalo two nights a week for practice and our games are Saturday and Sunday nights in the Buffalo and Rochester area."

The extensive travel that the girls go through on a regular basis - four nights a week of traveling seven months a year - shows just how much the girls enjoy and love playing the sport.

To this point in the season, the girls and their Chiefs teammates have participated in tournaments and games at facilities like Penn State University, while also playing in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Rochester. The competition has featured teams from the likes of Canada, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Ohio.

"We feel comfortable playing at Cazenovia," the girls said. "It is fast, physical hockey right where we need to be. Hopefully the level of hockey will open up some doors for us. Our teammates on the Cazenovia Chiefs are from in an and around the Buffalo area. The coaches and the parents there are great and they treat us like one of their own."

Walsh and Madden started out playing together for local Lakers house teams and had the pleasure of working with local coaches such as Randy Stuart, Tom McFall and Ron Rothleder. However, the numbers problem again has made it difficult to sustain a local girls team, forcing Walsh and Madden to play elsewhere.

With this strong commitment to hockey, both girls have also given up playing basketball for their local high schools. Walsh plays softball for Chautauqua Lake and is a member of the T.C. Tremors, while Madden plays both soccer and softball for Jamestown. In addition, Walsh and Madden will be teammates again this summer, when they play travel softball for the Bandits out of the Olean area.

When they aren't busy out in Buffalo with the Chiefs, both girls also find time to give back to the local beginner and squirt programs by helping out Rothleder, McFall and George Watkins.

"We are the last high school girls still playing hockey that were a part of a strong Jamestown girls hockey program 10 years ago," the girls explained. "We definitely miss playing at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, one of the nicest rinks around. We also miss the memories with our old Jamestown Lady Lakers and Southern Tier Storm teams. We had so much fun on weekends traveling, staying in hotels and playing a sport that we all love."

The girls' goal as far as their new Cazenovia Chiefs team is concerned is to qualify for and win states at the end of March. The winner of states moves on to nationals in Vermont.

Both Walsh and Madden then laughed and stated, "We have to win states. Because our older brothers played hockey together and they won states. Hopefully we can top that."



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