Gold-Oriented

Ask New Hampshire senior blueliner Kacey Bellamy what her primary goal is following her final collegiate campaign this year, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell you. The Wildcats’ No. 22 is focused on getting to Vancouver next year as a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic women’s team.

“That’s been my number-one goal ever since I started playing,” she admitted. “Every girl wants to go to the Olympics, and ever since I got to UNH, I’ve been training to be the best that I can be. It would be amazing to make the Olympic team.”

Bellamy, 21, has already posted an impressive resume with USA Hockey. The 5-7 defender has had a pair of stints with the U.S. Under-22 National Team, seen action at three U.S. National Women’s Festivals, and suited up several times for the U.S. Women’s National Team, with whom she won a gold medal at the 2008 IIHF World Championships.

Kacey Bellamy and New Hampshire have faced more than their share of challenges this season.

Kacey Bellamy and New Hampshire have faced more than their share of challenges this season.

“I can’t describe it,” she said of that last feat, which preceded a second gold medal at the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid last autumn. “It wasn’t just beating Canada twice, it was the whole two weeks in China. That team was so close, and we grew with each player.”

There’s still some business for her to finish — or rather, continue — in college. The Wildcats have won the Hockey East championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament every year of Bellamy’s career, including a pair of Frozen Four appearances.

This season, however, seems to have placed more than the usual number of obstacles in the Wildcats’ way. UNH is not only missing three of its top five scorers from the 2007-08 campaign, but is carrying just 17 players in all on this year’s roster. Bellamy herself had contributed two goals and 14 assists in her first 20 games this season, including a four-assist effort against Dartmouth on Jan. 16.

“I would probably say I’m pretty poised,” commented Bellamy, who first started skating at age four and picked up hockey a year afterwards. “I try to look for the perfect pass, and I’m very patient.”

UNH itself went an uncharacteristic 9-5-4 to start this season, after wining 15 of its first 17 games a year ago en route to another conference crown and NCAA berth. The Wildcats, though, still stood just two points out of first place in the Hockey East standings as 2009 dawned, and now Bellamy is hoping for a pair of four-peats in her final campaign.

“We’ve had a rough start with our limited numbers, but I love this team,” said Bellamy in the fall. “We’re so close off the ice, and now we need to bring that onto the ice. With our small numbers we may get tired, but I’m confident in them.”

Bellamy, who was majoring in women’s studies with a minor in sport studies, posted 21 goals and 58 assists for 79 points in 108 games her first three winters with the Wildcats, including 14 power-play goals, in leading them to 94 wins overall. She has also earned Hockey East All-Star Second Team accolades twice, and is serving as team captain this season on a squad that features no less than eight freshmen and sophomores.

“I feel there’s pressure on me,” she admitted. “We were a top team the last three years, but we’re not the same this year. The other seniors and I are trying to keep things light in the locker room and on the ice, and take it one game at a time.”

A Westfield, Mass., native, Bellamy played for the Westfield Wings and Sound Shore Warriors club teams before embarking on a prep school career at the Berkshire School, where she also lettered in field hockey and softball. Moving on to college, Bellamy was named to USCHO’s 2005-06 All-Rookie Team after collecting eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points to go along with a +39 plus-minus rating as UNH advanced to the national semifinals.

“The Frozen Four was such an amazing thing,” remembered Bellamy. “The quarterfinal win over Harvard was such a huge memory, and it will always stick out in my mind.”

She notched 10-19–29 as a sophomore, and last season earned UNH’s Colleen Coyne Award as the team’s top defenseman as she tallied 3-23–26, a +30 rating and 54 penalty minutes, although UNH fell to eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth in the semifinals.

Prior to skating for Berkshire, Bellamy spent five seasons playing with the Springfield Junior Pics boys’ team back home, and considered it a valuable stepping stone on her path to college hockey.

“That was a really good experience,” she recalled. “It was hard to start checking at first, and get respect as the only girl; but by the end, I did gain their respect, and they had my back. I got tougher playing with them.”

She also followed her older brother into the Hockey East ranks, as Rob Bellamy starred at the University of Maine until last season and is now playing pro. Kacey Bellamy herself has been playing with the girls since 2005, and hopes to continue doing so next season after the 2009 Frozen Four concludes in Boston in March. She is also considering both teaching and coaching among her future endeavors.

“I want to teach high school and go the education route,” she admitted. “I want to be a coach, and my goal is to stay in the sport.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean she’s hanging up her skates just yet, though.

“I’d love to keep playing in one of the (professional) leagues,” said Bellamy. “If I don’t make the Olympics next year, I’d like to try and make the 2014 Olympic team, and hopefully get an assistant coaching job and play while coaching.”

Whatever happens the rest of this season and beyond, whether it’s on the ice or from the bench, Bellamy will look back fondly on her success at New Hampshire.

“It’s been the perfect place for me,” she said. “I don’t regret for a second coming here.”

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