A five-sport star in high school, five remained a key theme in Alyssa Holmes’ athletic narrative. Along with team captain Kristina Shanahan, she enjoyed her fifth season in 2021-22 for the Vermont Catamounts. Serendipitously, both enjoyed the opportunity to make their 150th appearance in the Catamounts colors.
Raised in Burlington, Ontario, Holmes starred with a pair of PWHL teams in the Golden Horseshoe region; the Burlington Jr. Barracudas and Stoney Creek Jr. Sabres. As a side note, her cousin, Warren Holmes appeared in 45 games at the NHL level with the Los Angeles Kings, recording 26 points.
Developing into a face-off specialist with the Catamounts, the 2019-20 season saw Holmes rank seventh in the NCAA with a 61.5 win percentage. With the following season condensed to just 11 games, attributed to pandemic concerns, it was not the type of season upon which Holmes career deserved to reach its conclusion.
“It is hard to describe in words how grateful and happy I am to have had the opportunity to play this fifth year of hockey at Vermont. This has been by far the most memorable and fun year I have had.
Not only did the record breaking year make it so memorable, but this team was one of a kind. I love how close knit everyone was, and how awesome our culture dynamic was.
It was such an honor to be able to be part of this amazing team. Over my five years here, we have worked so hard to shape the culture into what it is today, and make it a fun environment to be in where everyone can be themselves and succeed as a group. This team and this record breaking year will be something I remember for the rest of my life.”
Enjoying an offensive renaissance, Holmes amassed 26 points. In her previous four seasons, Holmes totalled 20 points. This season, her playmaking skills shone with 23 assists, also eclipsing her previous career point total.
Worth noting, Holmes playmaking wizardry set a new record for most assists in a season. Fittingly, her final career point was an assist, collaborating with another record breaking forward.
Defeating Providence by a 4-1 mark in the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs, Holmes logged the helper on the game’s opening goal, scored by All-America selection Theresa Schafzahl. Propelling the Catamounts to their third appearance in the Hockey East semifinals, Schafzahl set the new benchmark for most goals scored in a Vermont season.
Holmes outlook towards her fifth season took on a different approach. Grateful at the opportunity to return, adopting a philosophy emphasizing enjoyment first, the results, on the scoresheet and the wins column, spoke for themselves.
Graciously acknowledging the presence of Shanahan and Schafzhal, it was only fitting that both played a key role in the final goal of Holmes career, equally one of the best in program lore. Facing off against the Boston College Eagles in a February 19 road affair, the regular season finale proved to be a magical affair.
Scoring on Abigail Levy at the 15:41 mark of the third, breaking a 2-2 deadlock, Holmes goal also stood as the game-winning tally. With the assists credited to Shanahan and Schafzhal, who broke the program record for most points in a season, the 4-2 final resulted in the Catamounts 21st win of the season. As a side note, Schafzhal also clinched the Hockey East regular season scoring title.
“This year, I tried to focus a lot on just having fun and appreciating the extra year. After going through that Covid year, it made me realize that I should not take playing hockey for granted.I should be having fun, and not stressing about every little mistake I make.
I feel this helped contribute to my success because it allowed me to play more calm and relaxed, and ultimately have more confidence in myself. The team dynamic also made it so easy to play with ease, and ultimately helped my game.
It is no secret that playing with Kristina and Theresa were also major contributors to my career high points. They are amazing hockey players, and anytime they are on the ice, you are going to find success.”
In addition to the heroics versus Boston College, the efforts of Holmes and Schafzhal resulted in another fascinating linkage, both sharing a place among the 2022 Hockey East award winners. While Schafzhal captured the PNC Bank Three Stars Award, Holmes earned the Best Defensive Forward honor.
Shining as a face-off specialist, ranking fifth in the conference with 239 wins in the face-off circle, Holmes led all Catamounts forwards with 23 blocked shots. As the honor commemorates a memorable season, it brings Holmes career to a distinguished conclusion, representing the potential for future Catamounts to achieve their own goals,
“I would say I am very proud to end my time here with this honor, and especially being able to share it with this group of girls, and the successful year we had together. I think of myself as a hard-working and driven individual, but I definitely could not have received this honor without this team.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”