Blades of glory

Blades of glory

North Smithfield’s Cassandra Sherman skates along the boards with the puck as she is pursued by a Calgary Inferno player during a CWHL game in Winthrop, Mass. Sherman, who began her professional hockey career last winter in Germany, is a forward for the Boston Blades of the CWHL (Canadian Women’s Hockey League). Sherman is also an assistant coach for her former college team, the University of Southern Maine.
North Smithfield’s Sherman continues pro hockey career with CWHL’s Boston squad

WINTHROP, Mass. – Cassandra Sherman’s Jeep Liberty has been logging a ton of miles these past couple months.

The North Smithfield native’s hockey odyssey – which has taken her from North Smithfield High in the late 2000s to the Rice Memorial High prep hockey team of South Burlington, Vt., the University of Southern Maine Huskies women’s hockey team, and last winter, with the Frauen 2 Liga Nord champion Düsseldorfer EG women’s hockey team in Düsseldorf, Germany – has brought her back home.

The 23-year-old Sherman is now a forward on the Boston Blades, which plays their home games at the Mike Eruzione Center in Winthrop, Mass., and is the lone U.S. hockey squad in the seven-team CWHL (Canadian Women’s Hockey League), which began its 11th season last month.

But Sherman, who currently resides in Gray, Maine, a two-hour drive from Winthrop, isn’t just playing for the Blades. She’s also an assistant coach for her Southern Maine alma mater, which is guided by her former head coach, John Lauziere, and which campus in Gorham is a half hour south of Gray. And during the week, she’s also putting in part-time hours as a nanny for a family with two sons that lives 20 minutes away in Falmouth.

When you add up the hours she spends with her hockey teams and as a nanny, it comes out to roughly 80 hours a week. Throw in the time she spends commuting all over the place, and you have to wonder how Sherman keeps her sanity intact.

“I know it seems like a lot,” she said, “but it’s worth it.”

Sherman talked on Monday afternoon during a rare day off, some of which she spent cleaning her apartment, and among the topics she discussed was her unlikely route to the CWHL.

A few months after helping Düsseldorfer EG win its championship, Sherman was back in the U.S., enjoying some time away from the ice. But that time didn’t last long, because in early August, she was encouraged by a friend to break out her skates and sticks and join her in driving to Winthrop and attending a small introductory offseason camp that the Blades hosted.

After the camp, Sherman received an email from the organization asking her to sign up for the CWHL Draft that was taking place on Aug. 20 in Toronto. Sherman did, and to her surprise, she received another email from the team stating that she was drafted in the 21st round with the 111th overall pick.

A month later, Sherman found herself venturing daily to Winthrop, attending the Blades’ preseason camp and vying for a spot on the squad. When the tryouts ended in early October, Sherman got called into the coaching staff’s office, hoping for the best news, but preparing for the worst.

“They told me I made the team,” she recalled. “It was unreal. I think I’m still speechless and trying to figure it out, but going into the office and hearing it from the coaches, it was something I’d never thought I’d hear.”

Especially since the CWHL isn’t a place you’ll find Division III alumni on its rosters. But not only is Sherman one of three former D-III players on the Blades, she’s also skating a regular shift on the fourth line. She’s played in six of the Blades’ seven games – she was a healthy scratch for the team’s home opener on Oct. 21 – and she’s still looking for her first points of the season.

“It’s kind of like being a rookie, but I’m learning so much from the other girls,” admitted Sherman, “Almost all of them are former D-I players and they’re just great talent. I’m just learning every day and trying to improve myself. But everything’s been pretty awesome. I’ve been getting some playing time, and I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Unfortunately for the Blades, they are at the bottom of the league with seven defeats in as many games, one of them a shootout loss, but Sherman said that her teammates have been staying positive and keeping the faith during their rough start.

“It’s obviously not a great start, but the attitude on the ice has been great,” added Sherman. “None of the girls are down. In games, no matter the score, the girls keep trying, and it proves that there’s a lot of heart on this team and everyone’s here for the love of the game.”

While the Blades practice two to three times a week and often play Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games – the Blades don’t return to action until after Thanksgiving – Sherman has also been a daily presence at the Huskies’ 7 a.m. practices, as well as their Friday night and Saturday afternoon games, with an occasional Tuesday night game sprinkled in there.

On Nov. 4, Sherman had a hectic day that saw her begin it with a 1 p.m. game behind the bench for the Huskies’ 6-1 victory over nearby New England College two hours away in Henniker, N.H. After the win, she drove an hour and a half to Winthrop to join the Blades in time for their 7:30 p.m. game against the Vanke Rays, which saw Boston suffer its shootout loss.

Sherman will face this same dilemma only a few other times during the course of the winter, but “it just makes for a long day,” she said.

As for her time in Germany, Sherman admitted that she misses her time there, as well as her roommate, her teammates, and her travels around Europe, but there’s simply been no place like home.

“I’m really excited to be back home and playing for (the Blades),” she added. “Even being in Maine – I know North Smithfield is my hometown, but being up here for four years just feels like home. I’ve been in contact with my friends in Germany and I definitely miss it over there. I’ll definitely go visit them sometime, but being home is nice.”