Brewer’s Jordin Williams never expected to have the opportunity to play on an all-girls high school ice hockey team in the Bangor area.
Rather than play on the Brewer High School boys team her freshman year last season, she joined the closest varsity girls cooperative team, including teammates from Winslow, Cony, Gardiner, Messalonskee, Lawrence, Erskine Academy, Maranacook and Mt. Blue high schools.
She and her parents, Jarrod and Jodie, traveled to the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell on a regular basis for practices and games.
But the Penobscot Pioneers came into existence this season, and Williams has been a big reason for the team’s success. The first varsity girls team comprised of players from seven Bangor-area schools has shocked everyone by going 6-3-1 and sitting in second place in the Class A North Heal points standings.
The team earned a 4-4 overtime tie with the only team ahead of it in the standings — Yarmouth-Freeport, which is 9-1-1 — last Saturday. The Penobscot Pioneers lost to them earlier in the season, 2-1.
Williams, a sophomore center, is second on the team to captain Emma McNeil in goals with 14 and points with 24. McNeil has 16 goals and 25 points.
Williams had four goals and two assists in a 7-1 win over Lewiston, the defending state champion.
“She has skill, she can control the puck and her hockey sense is off the charts,” said Lewiston assistant coach Scott Cloutier.
Penobscot head coach Michael Keim agreed.
“She is always in the right spot at the right time. Her play without the puck is great,” Keim added.
Williams faced a tough decision when she began her freshman season: compete on the Brewer boys ice hockey team, or join a girls team.
“For them to bring me in and let me be part of their team last year was really nice,” said Williams, who noted that playing for the co-op team last season was important to her development.
“I liked how different it was. I felt more comfortable playing on a girls team. I feel like I know the game better and I wasn’t constantly looking to get hit,” Williams said. “At the same time, it’s nice to hit and that’s why I still played [boys] midget hockey last year.”
Players aren’t allowed to body check opponents in girls or women’s college hockey, although incidental contact is allowed.
One of the things that stands out about her game is her skating ability.
“She is very fast. And she has deceiving bursts of speed,” Keim said.
“I love the feeling that goes with skating. That’s why I’m good at it,” said Williams, who followed the path set by her older sister Jaiden, who also played hockey. Jaiden graduated from Brewer last year and played field hockey at Husson University last fall.
Jordin played in the Maine Inferno girls program. When she played for the Junior Black Bears and her sister played on Brewer’s youth teams, they played against each other.
Williams began this season on the wing but was moved to center.
“I like center a lot better. I feel more comfortable and I’m able to go everywhere,” said Williams, who plays in all situations including the power play and penalty kill.
“She means a lot to our team,” McNeil said. “She has a lot of goals and assists and has really helped our forwards and our whole team out. She is a really good passer and since she is super fast, she is able to go get the puck anywhere.”
She also leads the team in faceoff wins, according to Keim.
Williams said she usually takes the pass option over the shot, although she knows there are times shooting the puck is the better choice.
She continues to work on her shot in order to develop more accuracy and she also wants to better recognize where her teammates are so she can get them the puck.
She has played a lot of hockey with her teammates as they came up together through the various youth hockey levels, and Williams said it shows in their success.
“You can tell we’ve all played together before. We were ready for this,” Williams said.
She feels her team can compete for the state championship.
“It has lived up to expectations. I just love playing. And we all get along,” said Williams, who is also an all-state field hockey midfielder and a softball player for the Brewer High Witches.
The 15-year-old Williams would like to continue her career in college, either in ice hockey or field hockey.
The Pioneers, whose only three losses were by one goal on the road, met 10-0 A South leader Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham on Thursday night.