When she was a youngster, Ally Vanidestine used to go to her older brother T.J.’s hockey games.
“I almost never missed one,” she said.
She enjoyed watching her brother play but she also developed a fascination with the sport.
“I really wanted to try it. So I tried it and fell in love with it,” she said.
She played on boys hockey teams and, this season, the junior winger became one of the few girls to ever make the Bangor High School hockey team.
There have been several who have played on the JV team, including Vanidestine, but she earned a roster spot during tryouts in the fall.
She is one of four skaters who rotate in on the fourth line.
She has played in four of six games for the 5-1 Rams.
“I love being on the team,” said Vanidestine. “The players have been very supportive and they’re helping me get better. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Vanidestine has earned the respect of her teammates with her work ethic, speed and tenacity.
“She’s doing really well. She never hesitates going to the puck,” said Ram senior center Connor Griffin. “She’s always the first one on the puck and she’s not afraid to hit people, I can tell you that. We treat her like just another teammate.”
“We’ve all accepted her. She fits right in,” said senior goalie Chris Howat. “She’s a very hard worker and it’s easy to accept somebody if they work as hard as she does. And she gets her nose dirty in the corners.”
Coach Denis Collins said Vanidestine’s speed and grit make her a very effective forechecker.
“She’s very quick,” said Collins.
“I try my best to use my speed to my advantage,” said Vanidestine. “That’s one of my strongest areas. And I like forechecking a lot.”
Collins said her popularity among her teammates provides motivation.
“We were playing a [exhibition] tournament game against Biddeford and she got in on one of their players and tied him up [on the forecheck]. Then one of his teammates came over and she tied the both of them up. She really motivated the team,” said Collins, who noted that her teammates will bang their sticks on the boards when she makes a good play.
“In practice, she doesn’t like it if she feels we’re going easy on her,” said junior center Zach Papsadora. “She’s a good player who puts in a lot of work.”
It has been a memorable year for Vanidestine.
She played an important role as a reserve striker for the Ram girls soccer team, which went 18-0 and captured their first-ever state Class A championship. She had four goals and two assists, including a vital late clinching goal in a 2-0 win over Brunswick in the Eastern Maine final.
“It’s fun being on winning teams,” said Vanidestine. “You don’t want to be cocky but you want to stay confident.”
The 5-foot-6, 140-pound Vanidestine said hockey is her favorite sport “by far.”
Vanidestine comes from an exceptionally athletic family.
Her dad, Tommy, was a multi-sport star at Bangor High who went on to become the starting right fielder on University of Maine College World Series teams. His five doubles in one game against the University of Miami is a national record.
Older brothers T.J. and Kyle were multi-sport stars at Bangor High and Kyle recently won the Del Merrill Award, given to Husson’s male athlete of the year, for his prowess on the football and baseball fields.