Ursuline’s Amatore is college-bound to play hockey

Zoie Amatore did not choose the path of least resistance

By BRIAN DZENIS | bdzenis@vindy.com


Whenever Zoie Amatore was given a choice during her ice hockey career, she chose the more difficult path.

Instead of playing with an all-girl travel team, she chose to play among the boys for Canfield. Canfield has the Mahoning Valley’s lone high school hockey program.

“I think I stayed with the boys because they’re great and they’re fun to be with,” Amatore said. “There’s also that physicality in boys hockey that I like a lot.

“Sometimes it’s annoying. You get killed for being a girl, but it just makes you get stronger and as you get stronger, you’re probably the strongest in girls hockey. It puts you at a high tier for girls hockey.”

A senior at Ursuline, Amatore was allowed to play for the Cardinals because she lives in Canfield. The time she put in taking her lumps from the boys has paid off. On Monday, she signed her letter of intent to play for Davenport University, where Amatore also earned an academic scholarship.

When it came time to pick a college, she had choices to make as well. First she had to decide what sport to play. Boston College and South Florida wanted her for softball, but they just couldn’t pry Amatore off the ice.

“Softball is something for me to enjoy in the summer, but hockey is my one true love,” she said. “There’s nothing like that feeling — it’s hard to explain why I like hockey more than softball — there’s just more of a rush playing hockey.”

On the hockey side, Massachusetts-Lowell and Penn State wanted her to walk on to their respective NCAA teams. Davenport plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, a league for schools that wish to field a hockey team without running afoul of the NCAA’s Title IX rules. ACHA schools do sponsor those teams, but athletic scholarships are rare. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State women’s hockey programs all play in the ACHA and play in the same division as Davenport. In women’s hockey, ACHA and NCAA schools play each other frequently. Amatore said Davenport’s appeal came from its small size, the academic scholarship offer and the availability of her major — biology to get on a pre-med track for radiology. The Panthers women’s hockey program is in its third season of existence.

“Davenport is a small school and I want to put them on the map,” Amatore said. “I want to get more girls interested in coming there and building the program.”

Amitore is Canfield’s — and likely the Valley’s — first-ever female college hockey player.

“I think it’s a big step for the Youngstown area and for the Canfield program,” Canfield coach Chris Richards said. “It’s great to have somebody come from an area that’s football country. We’re really proud of her.”

This season, Amatore has scored two goals with seven assists for the 8-1-1 Cardinals. She works as a defensive forward, winning faceoffs, cutting off angles to attack and killing penalties. On the ice, she’s learned to let taunts from mostly male opponents slide, but sometimes she’ll respond the way any hockey player would.

“There was this one kid who told me that girls shouldn’t play hockey,” Amatore said. “So the next shift, his head was in the wall and I was in the box.”

Since she was eight years old, Amatore chose the difficult path of trying to make it as a female ice hockey player in the Mahoning Valley and she’s done just that.

“When I first stepped on the ice, it was an all-boys hockey camp with the [Youngstown SteelHounds],” Amatore said. “They were all better than me, but I wanted to be just as good as them or better than them.”

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