When Emily Forward was a freshman, Concord High girls’ hockey Coach Stacy Landry thought Forward was just that – a forward.
So Landry penciled her into the top six and let her go to work. That is, until another player mentioned to Landry that Forward could skate from the blue line as well, and the Tide were in need of defensemen.
“She’s not going to tell her coach where she thinks she should be playing, not as a freshman,” Landry said. “But we had gaps in our defense last year so I put her back there and it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made as a coaching staff.”
Forward’s offensive instinct translated to the blue line and it carried over into her sophomore season where she finished with nine goals and three assists. The Tide’s offensive attack flowed from their defensive corps, which included Madelyn Farrely (junior), Jillian Dusseault (junior) and Olivia Branch (sophomore) in addition to Forward.
“They won games for us this year,” Landry said. “They scored the goals and defensively they kept the goals out.”
Concord (13-7) entered this season’s tournament as a fifth seed and knocked out fourth-seeded
Oyster River in the quarterfinals. Forward was the key goal scorer in that victory, giving the Tide an early 1-0 lead and adding a second goal in the second period to go ahead 3-2. Concord preserved the lead through the third period to hang on for the win.
“I went into that game super excited,” Forward said. “Playing at UNH helped a lot with my intensity, being in a big stadium and on the big ice and you never know who’s watching.”
The Tide’s season ended in the semifinals against top-seeded Exeter.
“I think we had a great year,” Landry said. “It’s huge for a team where more than half had never played hockey before. We needed girls that can play both positions and fill in the gaps.”
Forward was one of those skaters Landry could lean on and her role on the team will grow over the next two seasons.
“She is a really smart player, as all four of our defense were,” Landry said. “She really goes to the net when she can and is always getting back to cover.”
Forward said she responds well to Landry’s coaching, particularly when the energy is turned up.
“I definitely play a lot better when someone is a lot tougher on me,” Forward said. “It doesn’t anger me but it lights a little fire and I have a little more intensity when pushed to play well.”