Bow’s Shelby Herrington has made the most of her college hockey experience

  • Shelby Herrington, a native of Bow and graduate of Bishop Brady, has served as captain of the Northeastern women’s hockey team during her senior season. JIM PIERCE / Northeastern Athletics

  • Bow native and Bishop Brady graduate Shelby Herrington (left) flashes a smile while celebrating with her Northeastern University teammates. Herrington has served as the Huskies’ captain this season. JIM PIERCE / Northeastern Athletics

Monitor staff
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Northeastern women’s hockey coach Dave Flint knows what to look for when selecting a team captain. He leans on his players for feedback when it’s time to make this decision.

When that time arrived to figure out who would lead the Huskies in the 2017-18 season, the response from the team was clear.

Shelby Herrington, a native of Bow and graduate of Bishop Brady, would don the “C” in her senior season.

“The thing we found out is the team really respects her and when she does speak up, they all listen,” said Flint, a Merrimack resident and graduate of Trinity High School in Manchester. “It’s just getting her outside of her comfort zone.”

Herrington’s comfort zone is on the ice where she excels as a playmaker and faceoff specialist. She earned an assist in the Huskies’ 4-1 win over UNH back in October, but her command at the faceoff dot was even more impressive as she won eight of nine draws.

Most recently, Herrington posted three points in a weekend split with No. 2 Boston College. The Eagles have a commanding lead in Hockey East with eight points separating BC and second-place Providence. Northeastern currently sits in fourth, 12 points behind the leaders.

Herrington recorded an assist Friday in Northeastern’s 4-2 win over BC. She went on to score two goals Saturday in the Huskies’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Eagles.

Shelby is the third Herrington whose puck path has reached all the way to Division I, behind two older brothers and an older sister. Her younger sister, Sydney, is a star senior on the Bishop Brady-Trinity-West girls’ hockey team this year.

Herrington’s life at the rink, whether she’s on the ice or watching one of her siblings play, has developed into a keen understanding of the game. Her respect for the sport is unquestionable, and it’s seen in the discipline she’s brought to the ice since becoming a Husky in 2014.

But Herrington never set out with the goal in mind of one day leading the Northeastern women as their captain.

“No. I’m very quiet, so it was nothing I ever considered for myself,” Herrington said. “I always considered myself a leader by example and I didn’t necessarily see myself in the role of a vocal leader. It was never at the top of my mind until it happened. Now I’m just focused on growing in the role.”

This is where Herrington has stepped outside of her comfort zone like Flint had said. Points on the ice are always welcome, but the importance of leadership and building an environment focused on winning and the constant pursuit of improvement has certainly played a part in the Huskies’ season.

Northeastern beat No. 1 Wisconsin, 3-2, on neutral ice in November and tied No. 3 Clarkson, 1-1, in their season opener. Earning wins against some of the nation’s top programs has added to the confidence budding in the Huskies’ locker room, despite being left outside USCHO’s top 10 poll since the end of October.

“Obviously our main objective is to win Hockey East and our eyes are on the NCAA tournament,” Herrington said. “Games like our win versus Wisconsin is something we can draw on moving forward for confidence.”

Flint, now in his 10th season on the bench, coached the Huskies to their first NCAA tournament berth in 2016. Herrington, then a sophomore, enjoyed her most productive season points-wise with 15 goals and eight assists.

That season provided a clear boost for Herrington, Flint said. As a freshman, Herrington played in 32 games but came away with just one assist.

“She came in her freshman year as kind of a shy kid, reserved,” he said. “She just showed up and did her thing every day, worked hard. She had a challenging freshman year where she didn’t score any goals and I think she put a lot of pressure on herself. She really rebounded her sophomore year, and I think that gave her a lot of confidence on and off the ice.”

While Herrington acclimated to the quick pace of the college game, she couldn’t help but take note of the leadership she witnessed by the upperclassmen.

Kendall Coyne, an Olympian who won silver at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, was Herrington’s first captain during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

“That was an amazing opportunity,” Herrington said. “She always brought 100 percent to the rink every single game. She never gave up and she just inspired everyone through her work ethic and obviously her skill.”

Last seasons’ captain was goaltender Sarah Foss, who Herrington said had the instinct to rally the team with her voice.

“She was a great vocal leader and was always positive,” Herrington said. “She would always go the extra mile for the team.”

Northeastern has 10 games left in the regular season, all against Hockey East opponents, before playoffs begin. The Huskies have won three of their last five games, most recently a 3-3 draw with Boston University on Tuesday.

Herrington is also looking forward to playing in her final Beanpot Tournament. The Huskies have won the tournament 16 times, including the first ever women’s Beanpot in 1979. They were finalists in 2016 and 2017 but lost to Boston College in both.

When the season is done, Herrington will hang up her Northeastern sweater and begin life after college. The experience, though, will stick with her.

“Everything here has helped me to grow as a person and to get stronger and work on my weaknesses,” Herrington said. “The honor and opportunity I’ve had this year to be the captain is something that really there’s nothing else I can compare it to in terms of a growing opportunity and a learning opportunity. And the support I get from my coaching staff is unparalleled. It’s everything I could ask for in a college sports experience.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)