Ariana Bourque ’16 turned heads with a five-point performance last weekend in two games against Trinity. She scored two goals, including the game-winner in Friday’s 2-1 victory and assisted on Bowdoin’s other three goals. The left winger turned a likely loss into a tie with Saturday’s effort, notching a goal and an assist in an 18-second span to erase a 3-1 deficit. Bourque now leads the team in points with 16, equaling her mark from last season with five regular season games left to be played. She shares the team lead in assists with Mallory Andrews ’14 and trails leading goal-scorer Chelsea MacNeil ’15 by just one goal.
Bourque, a Massachusetts native, decided she wanted to play hockey when she was five years old, but her parents feared that she was too small for contact sports. Still, Bourque was determined to play and finally started skating at age 12. She played defense until high school, drawing light-hearted comparisons to Boston Bruins hall-of-famer Ray Bourque because of their shared surnames and the fact that she wore his number for a period of time.
Bourque left Massachusetts to attend high school at The Holderness School in New Hampshire, where she played soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. She had been playing soccer since she was three and considered it her primary sport until her sophomore year.
“I think I was a better soccer player but I just liked hockey better,” said Bourque. “Hockey is just a faster game. In soccer there are places on the field where you can just stand there and nothing is happening.”
She also moved from defense to left wing in her first year at Holderness.
“I realized I wasn’t really good at defense,” she said. “If you look at me now, I’m probably one of the worst backward skaters on the team.”
She has established a reputation as a player who fights for pucks in the corners and for being generally competitive.
“Her teammates even give her a hard time about it,” said Head Coach Marissa O’Neil. “If she’s tying her shoes, she wants to be the first one. As a coach you love to see it. If we’re going out to a restaurant, she always finds a way to turn it into some sort of game.”
O’Neil said that Bourque’s athleticism and speed also stand out, noting that upperclassmen were raving about her during preseason when she first arrived at Bowdoin. She is often the first one to enter the offensive zone and can start a possession with a quick shot that the other forwards can chase.
Colleen Finnerty ’15, Bourque’s right winger, believes that Bourque is a natural scorer based on her play this season. However, Bourque is unconvinced.
“I didn’t know I was the leading scorer,” she said. “That’s not the role I’ve played. It’s not the role I’ve ever played.”
Bourque’s scoring numbers have risen in part because last year’s NESCAC champions lost seven seniors, at least four of whom were consistent contributors, according to Finnerty.
Bourque noted that the team’s success last year was foreign to her.
“I was never on a winning team, ever,” she said. “I might have won 30 game over my career.”
Hockey teams typically play at least 20 games in a season. Bowdoin won 21 games last year on the way to the championship.
Linemate and center MacNeil said that Bourque’s read on the rush is to typically go to the net. Finnerty has noticed an improvement.
“I feel comfortable giving her the puck and knowing that she will know what to do with it,” she said. “The finishing piece has been her real focus this year. She’s learning how to be that person.”
According to O’Neil, Bourque won’t be seeing any additional time on the ice, no matter how well she plays.
“She pretty much can’t get more playing time than she already gets,” she said.
The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.