Union’s Kathryn Tomaselli goes the extra mile on and off the ice

Union College senior and leading scorer Kathryn Tomaselli is driven on and off the ice, as the odometer of her car clearly reveals.

“I had an internship in the Boston area where I worked 40 hours a week this summer. And then I played hockey four nights a week about an hour away. I think I put 9,000 miles on my car this summer. Totally worth it,” said Tomaselli.

The Cranston, R.I., native (her family later relocated to Florida) worked a full-time job at the UMass Medical Center in Worcester during the past two summers. She is a computer science major and held an internship working with their data systems.

When not working, she would travel to the Institute of Performance and Fitness (IPF) in North Reading for a rigorous workout and then another 15 minutes to Ristuccia Arena — the training home of the NHL's Boston Bruins — where she played on several summer collegiate teams.  On weekends she’d continue to train, including more of Union’s summer workout regimen in her routine and “the little things that I might not have gotten to do at IPF,” she said.

The right winger has four goals this season giving her 18 for her career. The Dutchwomen are out of the gate slowly at 0-7-4, although their ties have come against quality programs and there are no soft spots on their schedule. They still have plenty of ECAC conference play ahead of them to recover in the league’s standings. That’s a mixed blessing, however, as the ECAC is also one of college’s top women’s hockey conferences.

Tomaselli is a high school graduate of Williston-Northampton School in Easthampton, Mass. She’s also the graduate of a household that included two older brothers. She attributes her toughness on the ice to the latter.

“You can imagine that my childhood was one big wrestling match. I definitely learned to hold my own,” said the 5-7 Tomaselli. Her hockey skills were sharpened on a backyard skating rink, the type that makes the  NHL’s Winter Classic, played annually outdoors, a sentimental favorite each New Year’s Day for millions of viewers.

“We’d always be out there just skating around and shooting,” she said. The result shows up on the scoring sheet and where Tomaselli does her yeoman’s work in front of the crease. It’s an area of the ice that opposing defenses strive hardest to keep “clean” and where cross-checks and an occasional slash from the goalie are liberally meted out.

“My favorite part is just bearing down and being unmovable," she said. "I’m not the biggest player, but I like to think I’m one of the toughest. On the power play, I want to be in there and I want my D’s shots to go through and coming right at me. I think I react well when shots rebound off the goalie and I’m quick to turnaround. I like to think that’s my spot.”

It’s also hockey’s toughest spot to stake a claim.

Tomaselli is paired on a line with sophomores Hannah Erickson and Katie Laughlin. Eleven games into the season they are developing the most-important but intangible component of line play, chemistry. “They are just two extremely hardworking players. Every single time we get off the bench whether we were stuck in the D zone or dominant in the offensive zone, we always have things that we want to work on,” she said.

The senior sees a career in computer science ahead and, if geographically feasible, a shot at the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). The four-team professional circuit has entries in New York City, Connecticut, Boston and Buffalo. She is going to put her off-ice career first, but if it lands near one of the four teams, “I would be so happy,” said Tomaselli. The NWHL plays weekend contests to accommodate dual-career players.

As to the remainder of the season's schedule that includes ECAC rivals Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, “We’re on the road to playoffs. I think we have a dedicated and committed squad and I think everyone gives 100% and that’s our goal, the playoffs,” she said.

Coming from another player, that sentiment might ring hollow after such a slow start to the season. Coming from a player as driven as Tomaselli, it sounds more like a promise.

Above: Kathryn Tomaselli has four goals this season for Union College giving her 18 for her career. (Courtesy Union College Athletics)

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