Look, Katie Crowley isn’t calling Abby Newhook a liar. That’s not what she’s saying.
But when told the freshman forward said it took her until after the Christmas break to find her game at the collegiate level, the Boston College coach sounds a bit stunned. Crowley hums and haws. Then comes a laugh and a suggestion Newhook must have pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. “Maybe she faked it until she really felt comfortable,” Crowley said, “but she always seemed comfortable.”
Hard to argue that, really, when Newhook netted the OT-winner in her college debut. Harder yet, given Newhook mustered four goals and six points in her first six NCAA games. And even if Newhook wants to say she needed a dozen or so games before she could be an impact player for the Eagles, her early performance sure foreshadowed what she’d accomplish this season. To wit, she had 18 goals and 32 points, both of which led conference freshmen. Among her 18 goals were six game-winners, tied for the second-most in the nation. Oh, and add seven rookie-of-the-week honors, three rookie-of-the-month wins and Hockey East’s rookie-of-the-year award for good measure.
When trying to pinpoint the moment Newhook truly arrived, though, it’s easiest to point to an eight-game goal streak that began in mid-January and ended in the second week of February. “It’s one of those things that comes to you, and when it’s there, it’s great,” said Newhook of her scoring streak, which coincided with the Eagles going on a run of their own. “Having my teammates alongside me and keeping me motivated also helped. The win streak, that definitely contributed, as well. I feel like all of those things played a factor in it. It’s definitely important as a freshman having something like that.”
For her part, Crowley wasn’t all that surprised by Newhook’s success. The Eagles coach, who has shepherded the likes of Alex Carpenter, Kelli Stack and Daryl Watts through BC’s doors, saw Newhook’s potential when she was just starting to get her feet wet in high school. “One of the things Abby has, and had, I would say, back then, is the ‘it’ factor,” Crowley said, “that special presence about her that you could tell she was a good hockey player then and was going to continue to be a good hockey player and make an impact on any team she went to.”
That’s not to say there was never any cause for concern; her development might have been thrown off track, if only slightly, by the pandemic.
Last season, Newhook, the younger sister of Colorado Avalanche winger Alex, couldn’t play even a single high-school game. Not one. In fact, instead of settling in to enjoy her senior year at Massachusetts’ Tabor Academy, she headed home to Newfoundland last November. Regular classes were replaced with their remote counterparts, regular games with 1-on-1 training sessions. And while she thought she worked well with what was at her disposal, Newhook couldn’t help but feel the entire time as though she was falling behind.
Thankfully, Newhook was able to find a measuring stick. She was one of 23 players selected to participate in the Canadian women’s national team’s Summer Showcase as part of the 2003-born NextGen crop in late July and into early August. It was her first major national-team camp, as her opportunities to play for Canada in under-18 tournaments were casualties of the pandemic. “That camp was really eye-opening because it was the first time I had played against the other Canadian girls at that level,” Newhook said. “I definitely think playing against other girls, seeing where I was at and how much work I still need to do, was definitely good for my game.”
Already, though, those areas where Newhook needs improvement might be few and far between. Crowley said the powerful way Newhook skates and the manner in which she drives the net – in the style of a nouveau power forward – sets her apart from her peers. Crowley’s even willing to go one step further, putting Newhook in the upper echelon of young talents in the game. “We’ve been fortunate to have a few come through our program who have been able to produce a lot in their freshman year, and I think Abby fits right into that group of those elite players that really can change a team dynamic,” Crowley said.
Elite enough to land herself on the national team’s radar? Crowley believes so, and after her turn at the Summer Showcase, it’s where Newhook has firmly set her sights. “My goal has been, and is still now, to play on the Olympic team in 2026,” she said. “Obviously, there’s a long way to go and a lot of work that has to be done, but I think that’s something I strive for every day whether I’m on the ice or off the ice.”