Carly Jackson has been putting her University of Maine education to good use this winter.
Not only is she the starting goaltender for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League, she has also used her athletic training degree to occasionally tend to her teammates.
“I’ve been able to help out when they’ve needed me as a trainer. I’ve taped some ankles. But now we have a full-time trainer,” said Jackson who, during the summer has worked as an athletic trainer in the Cape Cod League, the country’s top summer wooden-bat baseball league.
The six-team NWHL, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsored only a three-game regular-season schedule and is conducting its playoffs. All games have been played in their “bubble” at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York, site of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice.”
Jackson is playing alongside three former UMaine teammates including defenseman Alyson Matteau and forwards Brooke Stacey and Brittany Colton.
The Beauts were tied 1-1 in a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the Boston Pride going into Monday night’s deciding game.
Jackson made 36 saves in a 2-1 Buffalo victory before Boston tied the series with a 6-0 triumph.
The Beauts were facing another former Black Bear in Boston’s Tereza Vanisova. She is UMaine’s all-time career scoring leader witn 129 points (63 goals, 66 assists) in 129 games.
“[Vanisova] is even better now. It’s fun watching her play,” Jackson said.
Jackson enjoyed an exceptional career at UMaine with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage to go with 10 shutouts and a 45-54-18 record.
There are two other former Black Bear forwards in the league in Cailey Hutchison (Metropolitan Riveters) and Audra Richards (Minnesota Whitecaps).
Jackson, a Nova Scotia native, said she has loved playing in the NWHL with three of her former UMaine teammates.
“It has been a lot of fun. We grew up together. It feels like home,” Jackson said.
She explained that the NWHL has implemented a lot of strict protocols due to the pandemic and that the league has done an exceptional job keeping the players safe.
Jackson had trained with six teammates in Ontario from September until December, when then they received a waiver to go to Buffalo to join the rest of their Buffalo teammates.
She lives in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, and was working at New Balance until the Canadian government enforced a lockdown.
Jackson is a certified athletic trainer in the U.S. and plans to take her boards to get certified in Canada this spring.
The NWHL has a lot of top-notch players and she has enjoyed the challenge. She said some of her teammates were former Hockey East rivals and they like to swap stories.
She believes the league has good potential and it will continue to grow if “everybody keeps putting the work in.”
Teams have a $150,000 salary cap, so players earn between $5,000 and $10,000 per season.