April 21, 2011By Mal Boright Observer correspondent
It took 10 years, but Champlain Valley Union has its first Miss Vermont Hockey.
“This is awesome,” CVU junior Sophia Steinhoff said. “It kind of came as a shock. It was a nice surprise.”
Steinhoff, of Williston, received the 10th award given annually by the Burlington Free Press. She succeeds Essex’s graduated star Julie Pearl, who won in 2010 and 2009.
In a 13-9 season during which they were eliminated from the Division 1 playoffs by top-seeded Spaulding in the semifinals, Steinhoff began the season at forward, but was switched to defense by coach Tom Ryan early in the campaign after injuries hit the Redhawks’ blue line.
No problem for the slick skater.
“I like defense,” she said, adding with a smile that it leads to more playing time.
For the season, Steinhoff scored 19 goals and drew nine assists, averaging better than a point per game.
Ryan and some opposing coaches called her the most skillful player in Division I.
This was Steinhoff’s second season at CVU. She helped the Redhawks reach the Division I championship game in 2010, where they lost to BFA-St. Albans.
Three seasons ago, Steinhoff attended the American Hockey Academy in Stowe, where, she said, “hockey comes first.”
She said her team played some 70 games in five months, calling it “an Ivy League type prep school for hockey.”
With hockey success behind and still ahead of her, Steinhoff, upon questioning, has advice for young girls about the sport.
“It is a hard sport to simply pick up,” she said, adding that she has been playing since she was 4-years-old. ‘You don’t just pick up hockey. You have to skate.”
Steinhoff, who also played lacrosse last year, went to California last month with teammates Mollie Howard and Alyx Rivard as part of the Vermont 802 under-19 team that made it to the U.S. Hockey national semifinals.
“We won three games and the two we lost were in overtime,” she said of the tournament in Anaheim.
So what about the future?
First of all, Steinhoff is looking ahead to the soccer season where the kicking Redhawks will be out to make big noise after last year’s top-seeded outfit fell in the quarterfinals despite a big edge in territorial play.
“I was part of an undefeated jayvee team two years ago and many of those players are still around,” she said.
As for college hockey after graduation, Steinhoff says she is keeping all of her options open, whether it is Division I, Division III, or a school with a club program.
Oh yes, Miss Hockey 2011 might also like to play some soccer.