Team USA Ball Hockey shine bright at Holiday Bash

Cherie Stewart earns MVP honors

For NWHL fans, two names on the Team USA Ball Hockey roster may look familiar. Cherie Stewart and Amber Moore, inaugural members of the New York Riveters, were included on the recent ASHI Ball Hockey roster ahead of the 2017 World Championships.

In preparation for international competition, several members of the national team participated in the Cool Hockey Holiday Bash earlier this month. Stewart and Moore were among 12 Team USA players to compete in the Women’s A, Women’s B, and Coed Divisions. In the Women’s B Division, Team Slayher won the Holiday Bash behind the Women’s B Division MVP, Stewart.

Interestingly enough, she almost didn’t compete in the tournament held in Feasterville, PA. “Actually ... I wasn’t even supposed to go to this tournament,” said Stewart. She was able to travel to Feasterville due to a change in her weekend class schedule. Stewart is currently in graduate school at Manhattanville College, the same school where she holds the record in points (177), goals (101), and game winning goals (18) for the women’s ice hockey team.

Stewart initially planned to compete only with the Women’s A team. As fate would have it, Team Slayher lost a player to injury in their first game, so Stewart participated in the Women’s B Division tournament as well. Two championships and an MVP award later, Stewart is dialed in on the 2017 World Championships.

Team USA will hold a training camp next month in Massachusetts. Heading in, Stewart is eager to grow team chemistry. “I believe that focus for us right now is just to gel,” she said. For her part, Stewart will set an example through her actions, as well as her personality. “I like to make things loose on the team, I like to joke [around],” said Stewart. She also hopes to serves as a guide for players less experienced with ball hockey. “I like for everyone to feel comfortable coming up to me and asking me questions.”

Stewart has certainly been that for Moore. “Cherie Stewart is my hockey hero,” said Moore via email. Moore sees Stewart as a friend and mentor in the sport. In fact, it was Stewart who got her involved with USA ball hockey. “I went up to Boston with Cherie back in July, then to a second tryout/tournament in Barrie, Ont., before being named to the team.”

Now, Moore is focused on translating her ice hockey skills to ball hockey.  When asked what is the biggest difference, Moore responded, “Running is definitely different than skating ... I have to work on increasing my sprinting before [competing in the] Czech Republic.” Stewart agreed and added there is more unpredictability with a ball, as opposed to a puck. “Playing with a hockey ball, it takes away some advantages that you have on the ice.”

Stewart and Moore will join their USA teammates in Dracut, Mass., for training camp Jan. 14-15, 2017. The team will also hold camp in St. Catharines, Ont., in April before the 2017 World Championships held in Czech Republic in June.

When not focused on ball hockey, both ladies have managed to keep up with the NWHL. “I am a huge Riveters fan and it has been remarkable to watch the program continue to grow and gain talent,” said Moore. Stewart added, “The All-Star game being in Pittsburgh [is] really awesome!” Both look forward to seeing the Riveters make a deep run in the Isobel Cup playoffs.