The Masconomet girls hockey team will be returning home tonight — home to Newburyport, that is.
The Chieftains, a co-op of players from Newburyport, Triton, North Andover, Hamilton-Wenham and Georgetown, will be taking on Medford at 5 p.m. at the Graf Rink as part of a Masco doubleheader. The Masconomet boys will face off against the Clippers at 7.
But for many of the lady Chieftains, tonight’s game is their first chance to shine in front of their own hometown crowd.
“We just want to raise awareness of girls hockey in this area,” said Masco girls hockey coach Nicole Twomey, an Amesbury resident and teacher in the Newburyport school system. “Girls hockey is here, and it’s here to stay.”
The Chieftains will also be rasing awareness for cancer research. While their game will be free to all, donations for the American Cancer Society will be accepted at the door, something that Twomey is very proud of since she has been trying to get her girls to be more civic-minded.
“We just feel, as a coaching staff, that cancer has touched many people’s lives,” said Twomey. “It is a very easily relatable cause, and we certainly wanted to give back.”
But the big draw for the girls, who normally play out of the Talbot Rink in Gloucester, will be the first chance to play in front of a bigger crowd. Sophomore right wing Ashley Hodge (granddaughter and daughter of Boston Bruins’ alumni Ken Hodge and Ken Hodge Jr.) relishes the idea of playing in front of more than just her parents this time around.
“I’m really excited,” Hodge said. “I’m really looking forward to it. We don’t have to drive far, and maybe we will get some fans that we actually know. That’s always a good thing. It drives me to play better and helps me focus more. I hope some people will go a little bit crazy for us.”