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From prep school hockey in Lake Placid to SUNY Plattsburgh goalie

After four years at Northwood School, Ashley Davis has moved on to play for the Cardinals - WPTZ , NBC 5


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Ashley Davis has made a long journey from Winterville, North Carolina, to play Division III college hockey at SUNY Plattsburgh. Before she started as a Cardinal, she played four years of prep hockey at another school in northern New York.

The Northwood School, a prep boarding school in Lake Placid, New York, was the place where Davis spent what she said was much needed time to help get ready to achieve her goals of playing college hockey.

“It prepares you so much more than staying in a regular high school scenario,” Davis said. “Just going away, just kind of learning how to be on your own, because college can be difficult. It’s a challenge and I think it better equips you for those challenges.”

With minimal opportunities back in North Carolina to play on a women’s hockey team, she played on boys’ hockey teams to find any playing time she could. She knew being in the same atmosphere as other girls aspiring to be collegiate-level hockey players at the prep level would only help her.

“It definitely helped,” Davis said. “All of us that went to prep school, we are all hungry and want that college spot, so it just made practices [and] made games more competitive. It’s definitely an atmosphere that I liked and enjoyed.”

Davis played at Northwood during her sophomore, junior and senior years of high school. She even decided to stay for an extra year, despite already receiving college offers to play at Division III schools like Elmira College and Holy Cross. However, she knew she wanted to come back and play for another year as a fifth-year student.

“I had a few options that I just knew weren’t my home,” Davis said. “I was very interested in Plattsburgh. It’s something that I talked with Coach (Kevin) Houle about before ... so I waited it out. I’m very happy that I made that decision.”

Northwood’s current director of admissions, Gino Rifle, was Ashley’s head coach at Northwood during her final year. He recognized Ashley’s focus as a goaltender and her competitive edge as visible signs that she could play in college.

“She relentless on pucks, relentless on saves, getting mad if she gets scored on in practice,” Riffle said. “Always competing on second chance opportunities and rebounds in practices. Where a lot of kids might not do that, she did that and she did that religiously.”

In 2018, Davis and three of her other teammates from Northwood Sierra Benjamin, Hanna Rose, and Moe Tsukimoto also joined her as first-year students at Plattsburgh State. While Davis played just four games that season, she still got to experience winning the 2019 NCAA Division III state title with three familiar faces.

“It was a unique experience,” Davis said. “Not a lot of people get to come to college, play on a team with three of their best friends. That’s pretty cool.”

Two out of three of her teammates are still a part of the team with her this season. Benjamin has contributed two goals and seven assists as a senior defender, while Rose is still with the team as a Student Assistant Women’s Ice Hockey coach. Tsukimoto is looking to make a comeback to hockey as a member of Japan’s national hockey team, after an injury ended her college career during her sophomore season in 2019.

The following season in 2019-20, Davis took over the starting role as goaltender and did not disappoint. She finished as the New England Women’s Hockey League (NEWHL) Goaltender of the Year with an undefeated 19-0-0 record. In those games, she saved .949 % of the shots she faced, with a 0.91 goals against average (GAA), a mark which ranked fourth nationally in NCAA Division III.

She also helped lead the Cardinals to an undefeated 18-0-0 NEWHL record and a 6-1 win over Oswego State University in the NEWHL Championship. Unfortunately, the quest for another state title was cut short, since the NCAA Division III women’s ice hockey tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

The past couple of seasons Davis has experienced a role to split starting time between two other goalies in the crease: senior Lila Nease and senior Chloe Beaubien. Nease has started all five games thus far in the 2022-23 season. All five of those games have led to wins, where Nease has picked up 86 saves, a 1.78 GAA, and a save percentage of .905%. Despite not playing yet this season, Coach Houle recognizes the value Davis still brings to her team as a role model for Nease in her fifth year.

“Ashley’s been here for a while, both of them have,” Houle said. “You got a fifth year and a fourth year; they’ve been through a lot together. They both have been starters, and certainly, have both been very supportive of each other in those, and Ashley has certainly been of great support for her.”

Davis, Nease, Beaubien and the rest of the Cardinals are focused on chasing Plattsburgh’s eighth NCAA tournament tile. Davis’ knows the importance of focus it takes to be a goaltender. Riffle saw that at Northwood, and it is something she emphasizes to her other goaltenders to achieve their championship goals.

“We all just try to keep our heads in it,” Davis said. “That’s the best advice I can give to any goaltender … if you keep your head and mental right that’s 95 percent of the game.”