All In: Clifton Park’s Natalie Tulchinsky nets big goals with Boston College hockey

Eagle left Capital Region in high school years to play in New England

Photo of Joyce Bassett

Natalie Tulchinsky of Clifton Park broke through for two goals in her fifth game for the Boston College hockey team, tallying what would prove to be the game-winner in a 5-3 win over the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.

It was both an exciting and satisfying moment for the freshman forward.

Tulchinsky’s commitment to Boston College is an achievement borne from her dedication to play at the highest-level of prep and club hockey.

The on-ice journey to landing a spot with the Eagles started when she was a freshman at Albany Academy for Girls. She spent that hockey season traveling to play for New England powerhouse East Coast Wizards, based in Bedford, Mass.

“It was a lot of travel, but there was nothing else really good in the (Capital Region) area," said Tulchinsky, who played on boys’ teams in the Troy Albany Youth Hockey Association prior to joining the Wizards. "My parents, thankfully, were willing to drive me.”

Then she made an even bigger commitment: transferring to New Hampshire’s St. Paul’s School to repeat her freshman year of high school and compete both for the Wizards and in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council league.

“Leaving was not really a tough decision,” Tulchinsky said. “I knew that in order to further my hockey career and play at the highest level, I had to leave the area. I was really excited to start somewhere new and live away from home. I’m so happy that I made the decision to go to St. Paul's, because from the moment I stepped on campus I loved it, and I would not be where I am today if I did not decide to attend. Going to St. Paul's challenged me academically while being a great fit athletically and socially.”

She was captain of St. Paul’s Big Red as a senior, helping the team to the NEPSAC Large School Championship. As a junior, she was named to the all-NEPSAC first team, an individual honor the soft-spoken 19-year-old shyly and reluctantly called her biggest individual hockey achievement.

The Wizards club team provided her with what she called her greatest team achievement so far.

“In my U14 year we won nationals in Minnesota, that was the highlight of my career so far," she said. "That was the best feeling because growing up none of our teams ever made it. Winning nationals was surreal, it was crazy.”

At Boston College, she hopes to have another shot at a national championship. The Eagles are ranked 9th in the country — eight teams advance to the NCAAs. In the 2020-21 season, reaching those goals could prove to be out of reach for all teams and players. The Eagles already played two games without seven players because of COVID-19 protocol. Players know anything can happen.

Her roommate is another Clifton Park hockey player, freshman Sidney Fess, a defender who played for the North American Hockey Academy in the Junior Women's Hockey League. The Eagles are off to a solid start at 4-3 going into a Sunday night matchup against No. 2 Northeastern.

No matter what happens with college athletics this winter, Tulchinsky said she was excited and relieved to break through and help her team to a 5-3 Hockey East win over UConn on Dec. 4.

“It felt so good because it was a close game and it was meaningful and exciting,” Tulchinsky said.

The first goal Tulchinsky scored came on a rebound when the Eagles were peppering the net in the second period of a tied game. Her second goal was a rebound on the far post that sealed her team’s 5-3 victory in the third period.

New England has proven to be a home away from home for Tulchinsky who thrives being a force on teams at the top of the women’s hockey world.

“Honestly I just want to be the best I can be. Putting awards and everything aside, I just want to prove to myself that I’m the best I can be while working the hardest that I can. Then the rest will come,” she said. • @joyceb10bassett •


NWHL: The National Women’s Hockey League upcoming season and 2021 Isobel Cup playoffs will be held at the 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid between Jan. 23 and Feb. 5. The event is presented in partnership with the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. The competition in Lake Placid will feature the NWHL’s six teams — Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, and first-year expansion club the Toronto Six — and will be played without fans in attendance.

LPGA: Coverage of the 75th U.S. Women's Open, the final major on the LPGA tour, featured delightful short pieces detailing the history of women's golf's greatest event. Kudos to the tour and players for resilience under extraordinary circumstances and for sponsors making it all happen this year. The last two events on the LPGA’s 2020 calendar are worth a combined $8.5 million in prize money. High-fives to Rolex for making coverage commercial-free.

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