Hockey Humanitarian Award an amazing honor for Amanda Conger

Among the most inspiring and wonderful stories of the 2019-20 hockey season, perhaps none tug at the heartstrings more than the remarkable journey of Amanda Conger. Belonging to the Saint Anselm Hawks senior class, with the captain’s C adorning her jersey, Conger’s standing as both, impact player and hockey hero, took on greater meaning. Raised in Swanton, Vermont, where she starred with Rice Memorial before donning Hawks colors, a highly compelling offseason placed the talented forward into an exciting realm of admiration and commendable character.

During the offseason, Conger gained a place in the hearts and minds of the St. Anselm Community by giving the gift of life. An act that embodied bravery and kindness, she graciously donated her kidney. With a community-wide search required in order to find a match for Cameron Ouellette, afflicted with Stage Five Kidney Disease, it became a defining moment for Conger.

Discovering that she was a compatible match, Conger made the very gallant decision to become a donor, allowing a grateful Ouellette an opportunity for a new life. Worth noting, she found the inspiration from her older brother, who actually donated bone marrow four years earlier.

Such a show of compassion, demonstrating remarkable spirit, Conger’s display of character would extend beyond the donation and the recovery. To a casual observer of the game, understandably, the fact that Conger was able to recover and return for competitive play in 2019-20, was nothing short of miraculous.

Entering the season, Conger already had tremendous momentum. Having earned the honor of the Most Outstanding Player Award at the 2019 NEWHA Tournament, complementing the honor of a place on the All-NEWHA Second Team, it already placed Conger into an honored place in program lore.

Taking into account that Conger had already made the decision to donate her kidney, the tournament brought with a degree of urgency and importance. Discussing how the last few games remaining as the tournament progressed could signify her final games in Hawks colors, as the time required for recovery from such a procedure could not be anticipated. Indubitably, it provided a sense of motivation, amplifying the feeling of high impact such contests held on her own fascinating hockey odyssey.

Delivering on all accounts, it marked a cherished pinnacle for the gregarious Conger. Gaining the recognition of the Outstanding Player Award, showered with praise, it provided Conger with a tremendous feeling of possible, yet glorious closure. Contented in the remarkable effort exerted, the event held the potential to be the high point of her career. Instead, it proved to be prologue for the game, and season, of her life.

“Being named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 NEWHA Tournament is placed pretty high on my memories of being a Hawk on the Hilltop. In the semi-final and final game of my 2019 season, I was already in the process of giving my kidney. I was told if I continue and the procedure takes place there is a high chance (that) I would not be able to play my senior year.

I believe I ended on such a high note because to take from the above question, I played these two games as if they were my last hockey games I could ever play. I wanted to end my hockey career on a high note, so I played with everything I had, and I was so thankful at the end of it to be named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 NEWHA Tournament.”

Returning to the ice in an October 4-5, 2019, weekend series at Post University, it signified a tremendous personal victory for a courageous and commendable Conger. Although she did not gain any points versus the Hawks, racking up a +1 in each contest, her presence was nothing short of uplifting for her Hawks teammates, finding a combination of strength and encouragement, a series sweep saw the squad prevail by a cumulative score of 11-2.

Fittingly, Conger would gain the well-deserved opportunity to skate in the starting lineup in the Hawks home opener, part of an October 18-19 weekend filled with plenty of emotion versus visiting Sacred Heart. Gaining the assist on a second period goal by Kelly Golini of a hard-fought 2-1 loss on October 19, it signified Conger’s first point of the season, demonstrating a defining moment in her senior season.

Merely six days later, an October 25 affair provided a unique coincidence. Hosting the Post Hawks, Conger, once again placed into the starting lineup enjoy her first goal of the season. Capitalizing on a power paly opportunity in the first period, as Gabby Monaco earned the assist; it also proved to be the game-winning tally in a 6-0 final, allowing her two proud milestones with one goal. Worth noting, goaltender Caroline Kukas enjoyed her first win, complemented by the First Star of the Game Award.

November would emerge as a breakthrough month for Conger. Enjoying a four-game scoring streak, spanning from November 2-15, it also saw the high-flying Hawks boasted an undefeated mark. Highlighted by a 10-0 road win versus the Salem State Vikings, which was part of their Military Appreciation Night festivities, Conger would record four assists, tying with Katie Meehan for a game-high four-point effort. As a side note, Katie Guay, who would be one of the officials during the 2020 NHL Elite Women’s 3-on-3 Showcase in St. Louis, served as the referee in the 10-0 final.

The month would also see Conger and her fellow Hawks enjoy a taste of professional hockey, competing in a November 9 exhibition versus the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale in Manchester, New Hampshire. Conger would emerge as an impact player, assisting on a third period goal by Kenadie Cooper, which gave the Hawks their first lead of the game, enjoying a 3-2 advantage. Although the Whale would tie the game at 3-apiece, the Hawks’ Haley Marshall would score unassisted with only 12 seconds remaining to win the game, subsequently earning the First Star of the Game Award.

In a season that culminated with Conger gracing the ice in a remarkable 32 games, also reaching a career high in points, such an impressive display of dedication and perseverance was a source of awe and wonder among teammates and opponents alike. Discussing the recovery and the preparation needed to return to the ice following the medical procedure, she attributes a philosophical approach as a key factor in her empowering path. Gaining a newfound appreciation for life, while living in the moment, absorbing all its sights and sounds, placing an important premium on the beauty of every single day, simultaneously bringing a highly infectious energy to the rink,

“What I believed helped me to find success on the ice was I tried to play every game as if it was my last. After having my surgery, it really helped put a lot in perspective of how lucky we are to be healthy every single day and that could be taken away at any moment. Every game I just tried to push myself and play in the moment as if it was my last game I would ever play.”

Remarkable Women: Meet Amanda Conger

Fittingly, the season allowed Conger to return to her capacity of serving as team captain for the second straight season. Sharing in leadership duties among the likes of … and …, comprising a distinguished group, it was an achievement that signified a proud career highlight, accentuating her standing as a program cornerstone.

Also enjoying the treasured milestone of Senior Night, Conger, part of a Class that included Kaley Campbell, Jamie Gottwald, Michaela Kane, Megan Klaus and Haley Marshall, were celebrated on February 15 in Manchester, New Hampshire, prior to a contest versus Long Island University. Accentuating another stellar achievement, which saw Conger graduate as the Hawks all-time leader in games played with 114.

Setting the record with her 110th game, the landmark event took place on February 7, 2020 versus the Sacred Heart Pioneers at the Rinks in Shelton. Surpassing former teammate Jackie Guy, a member of the Hawks Class of 2018, the contest also saw fellow seniors Kaley Campbell and Megan Klaus take to the ice for their 107th appearance in Hawks colors. Although Conger’s eventual final game as a Hawk took place in the postseason, facing off against Long Island Univeristy in the NEWHA Champiuonship Game on February 23, 2020, the feat versus Sacred Heart was part of a much richer and unique narrative, as the achievement of skating with the Hawks during a full season marked a heroic comeback.

“Setting the program record for most games played was something I never could have imagine if you told me going into my freshman year. When I was told (that) I was only five games away from breaking the record I could not believe it. It allowed me to reflect back on my four years of playing for Coach Matthews and to remember the seasons with my old teammates.

Being named a Captain both my Junior and Senior year was very special to me. The feeling of being chosen by your teammates who want you to lead and be the liaison between the team and coaching staff is incredible. I am thankful that my teammates saw potential in myself and helped me grown and learn what it means to be a great leader.”

The aftermath of the season allowed for numerous precious accolades, serving as the exclamation mark to a magical time. Placing Conger in a celebrated status in St. Anselm athletics history, the honour of the Hockey Humanitarian Award ascended her towards a mythical place.

In addition, Conger gained further acclaim with Saint Anselm’s prestigious Donna M. Guimont Service Leadership and Engagement Award. With both honors, adding to a splendid haul of hockey hardware, including the 2020 All-NEWHA Sportswomanship Team, joined by teammates Megan Klaus and Katy Meehan, the Charles J. Quinn Sportsmanship Award, plus the privilege of recognition on the Saint Anselm Dean’s List for Spring. Undeniably, each subsequent achievement not only burnished a legacy destined to grow greater with time, such triumphant touches brought a more profound meaning to a glorious season that seemed in doubt just a few months prior.

“When I found out I was the recipient for the Hockey Humanitarian Award I was in shock. I never could have imagined a little over a year ago making a donation would have changed my life as much as it did. Needless to say, I was extremely honored to receive such a prestigious award. I never wanted as much recognition as I have received for making my donation, although I now embrace it and use its multiple platforms to spread awareness and importance of organ donation.

To follow up and receive the Donna M. Guimont Service Leadership and Engagement Award was also an incredible honor. Out of the many other amazing students at Saint Anselm who dedicate so much of themselves and their time to the community, I was extremely honored to be recognized as the recipient of the Donna M. Guimont Award.”

#HawksSoarHigher

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Megan Klaus a memorable competitor with Saint Anselm Hawks

Establishing herself as a highly dependable and reliable competitor for the St. Anselm Hawks women’s ice hockey program, Megan Klaus assembled an exemplary career accentuated by strong leadership. Enjoying a solid 113 appearances, complemented by 70 points, Klaus, a former competitor with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, enjoyed a stellar haul of hockey hardware over the course of four fantastic season on the Hilltop.

Beginning with New England Hockey Conference All-Rookie Team honors in the aftermath of her 2016-17 freshman season, appearing in all 27 games, there was no sophomore slump for Klaus. With the Hawks part of the new-look New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA), Klaus was its first-ever Player of the Week, bestowed the honor the week of October 24, 2017.

Recognized for her heroics during a weekend series against Sacred Heart, Klaus would score the overtime winner in their October 20 clash, giving goaltender Maddie Scavotto her first win of the season.

The following day, Klaus followed it up with a power play tally, contributing towards a sensational 4-0 shutout win. Worth noting, Scavotto would win the inaugural NEWHA Defensive Player of the Week Award.

Ending said season with a historic place on the first-ever All-NEWHA First Team, it was an honor that she would duplicate as a junior, earning a spot on the 2019 edition, respectively. Joining her on the 2018 edition of the First Team included Hawks teammates Kaitlyn Spillane and Katy Meehan, who was a co-recipient of the NEWHA Rookie of the Year.

During the 2017-18 season, Klaus would pace all blueliners in the NEWHA in scoring, with an impressive 23 points, on the strength of 18 assists. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that her 16 points on the power play ranked tops amongst all competitors in the conference. Klaus’ contributions proved to be essential for a Hawks team that captured the regular season crown by just one point over rival Holy Cross.

Finishing her Hawks career with All-NEWHA Second Team recognition, Klaus gained additional acclaim as a member of the Saint Anselm Spring Dean’s List. Donning the Hawks colors for 29 games in 2019-20, which saw the Hawks gain recognition as an NCAA Division I school, facing off against the likes of Princeton and Brown, Klaus’ versatility made her a valued asset on both offense and defense. Possessing a fundamentally sound game, Klaus showed strong consistency, while placing in the top 10 in scoring among NEWHA blueliners, amassing a highly respectable 14 points.

Accentuating her 2019-20 season, Klaus enjoyed the prestige of placement on the All-Sportswomanship Team. Taking into account that teammates Katy Meehan and Amanda Conger, who finished her collegiate career as the honoured recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, also earned spots on said team, it provided Klaus with the feeling of a shared milestone, enhancing her body of work as a Hawk.

As the season ended with an appearance in the NEWHA Championship Game versus Long Island University, the honor stood as testament to the tremendous impact and positive attitude that Klaus brought to the rink, certainly setting the type of highly important example that freshman and sophomore players can emulate as they enter the latter halves of their Hawks careers.

“I would say our team does not always do the best at recognizing the things we do well. Since I stepped on campus four years ago, we have always had high standards for ourselves on and off of the ice. This season did not exactly go as planned, so to find out Katy, Amanda, and I were recognized, it reassures us that although the season may not have turned out how we wanted it to, our hard work and dedication did not go unrecognized.

To earn a spot on one of the all conference teams is always an honor and something I am proud of but to pair that with earning that spot next to two of my other extremely well deserving friends and teammates is even more special. I think all three of us would agree that even though we were the only three recognized with this honor, it would not have been possible without the support, hard work, and dedication of all of our other teammates and coaches. I know I would not be the player I was at the end of my career at Saint A’s without my teammates and coaches pushing me to be better every day.”

Among the most important dates of the hockey calendar for Klaus involved February 15, 2020, as Senior Night festivities commemorated her career, one that saw her skate with the likes of fellow seniors Kaley Campbell, Amanda Conger, Jamie Gottwald, Michaela Kane, and Haley Marshall. Although the result in Manchester, New Hampshire was a 4-2 loss versus Long Island University, fittingly, Campbell would score twice, as Klaus made her mark, recording two assists during a highly emotional event.

Over four fantastic seasons. Undeniably, one of the most memorable career highlights for Klaus took place on Senior Night, a rite of passage that not only celebrates careers reaching their completion, but an opportunity for all involved with the program to rejoice. With the event also resulting in an alumni game, the result was a spectacular outing that supplied the likable forward with a lifetime of memories.

“Senior night is always an emotional day, even for the younger players. I think it puts things into perspective for everyone, especially us seniors. Having the ability to play college hockey and even further, at a fantastic facility with remarkable staff members is something I will always cherish.

The memories I made in Sullivan Arena with my teammates will always be special to me but to notch two assists in my last regular season game, in Sullivan Arena, with my family and friends in the stands cheering me on is definitely something special that I will always treasure.”

Equally meaningful during Klaus’ senior season was one of the greatest offensive performances in program history. A February 18, 2020 affair versus Post saw Klaus record an absolutely scintillating four-goal performance. After Post scored the game’s opening goal, as Catherine Proulx placed her name on the scoresheet, the Hawks dominated the remainder of the contest.

With Katy Meehan tying the score at the 11:50 mark of the first, placing the puck past Jenna Baumgartner, Klaus scored less than four minutes later for her first of the game. With Kaley Campbell and Kelly Golini earning the assists, said goal proved to be the game-winner.

Scoring in all three periods, including a pair of power play tallies in the third, Klaus assembled one of the great performances in program history. Earning the First Star of the Game, while Amanda Nylander, who recorded three assists, and goaltender Michaela Kane, were named Second and Third Star, the bigger picture allowed the Hawks to advance to the conference semi-finals versus Franklin Pierce.

“That game will always be special to me because I was able to score 4 goals which is a bit uncommon, but also because my fourth goal was my last of my college career, maybe even my career ever.

We went down 1-0 in that game and I think that lit even more of a fire in my teammates and I. The goals I scored in that game were because of outstanding plays by my teammates. I may have been the one to put the puck in the back of the net but that would not have been possible without them. If it was not for fantastic passes and excellent screens, I would not have even had one goal, let alone four.”

On what she enjoyed most, and what she will miss most about playing for Saint Anselm,

“I enjoyed the entire journey Saint Anselm Women’s Hockey provided me. This program taught me numerous life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I also very much enjoyed the bonds and relationships that I made with my teammates and coaches. Enjoying something a significant amount also means that it will be something you miss a significant amount and that is why I will miss my teammates and just the game in general the most.

Every athlete will tell you that there’s a special bond between teammates and that’s true. They are the ones by your side every single day, at lifts and conditioning sessions, in the locker room, on the ice, in the dining hall, and if you’re lucky like me you’ll live with some of them too. They understand the athlete side of you and what it takes to get to that level. Having 29 strong women putting all of their efforts towards fighting for the same goal is something special and something I’m not sure I will ever have the chance of experiencing again.

Lastly, I will miss my classmates. My classmates were there for me since day 1 and have become my best friends. I will miss sharing everyday with them but I know at this point we are closer than we have ever been and I am so grateful for them and for Saint Anselm and of course my coach, Kerstin Matthews, for bringing them into my life.

As a recent graduate, I have never been happier and more thankful to have had the opportunity to attend Saint Anselm and be apart of the women’s hockey team, and I will forever be grateful for my time there.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”