Odenton's Berman doing everything she can to stay on the ice

After successful career at Northeastern, Arundel grad playing versatile role with Boston Blades

(Photo by Eric LeCuyer )
December 25, 2010|By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun

The equipment was piled high on the counter at the sporting goods store, but the bill that came with it — to Rich Berman's surprise — was even higher.

He called his mother looking for some help.

"Mom," Berman said, "you are not going to believe what your granddaughter wants to do now …"

With a pair of skates, a stick, a helmet and pads for just about every part of the body — all used equipment, which came to $500 (father and grandmother split the tab) — 6-year-old Lindsay Berman was set to play ice hockey.

The very next morning, back in 1995, Berman stirred out of bed at 4 a.m. to start her first day as a hockey player. Practice for the Howard County Huskies, a boys team, began at 6.

"I couldn't believe how heavy all the equipment was, and I felt a little awkward at first, but I don't think it took more than a couple practices to know I wanted to keep playing," said Berman, now 22, an Odenton native and Arundel High graduate.

Having completed a fine four-year career at Northeastern University in Boston, Berman keeps playing with the same smile she has taken to every rink she has played in. With one semester left before graduating in May (Northeastern has a five-year program in her business marketing major), she is a forward of the expansion Boston Blades of the Canadian Women's Hockey League.

The Blades are 6-4 on the season, competing in the five-team nonprofit league that also has three teams in the Toronto area and one in Montreal.

"I couldn't believe the timing of it," said Berman, a forward who has three assists. "I was going to pay to play for a women's adult team, and then this comes around. Now I'm playing with some [former Northeastern] teammates and girls that I've also played against for the past four years. It's pretty neat, and it's really good hockey, too."

Over the years, Berman developed into a highly skilled and versatile player who excelled in many different situations. In the 135 games she played at Northeastern, she spent time at forward, on defense, in short-handed situations and on the power play — finishing with 23 goals and 39 assists for 62 points.

"What makes Lindsay such a threat on the ice is she can do so many things," Northeastern coach Dave Flint said. "She's so smart, and she has the skill to make any play. That versatility is tough to find in women's hockey. Kids have specific strengths, but not too many have multiple strengths — Lindsay is one of them that does."

Berman attributes much of that to going up against boys the first seven years she played hockey.

"Most of the boys were pretty welcoming as a teammate. But there were always a couple that did put me on a different page, so I definitely felt like I had to prove myself every day. So, yeah, it definitely made me more competitive," she said.

Another reason — Berman just wants to be on the ice, no matter where the coach plays her.

"Lindsay is kind of a utility player, and you hate to say "utility" because it seems to downplay a player's ability," Boston coach Erin Hamlen said. "She has across-the-board abilities and can adapt to the different positions and responsibilities I give her. She can really be used in any situation at any time, so she's a great player to have on the Boston Blades."

When she turned 13, she switched to girls leagues, playing for the Washington Little Caps and Washington Pride, and even spending one season traveling on weekends to play for a team in Chicago. Her sophomore year at Arundel is when colleges started recruiting her. Her father still has an accordion file crammed with all the college letters — he guesses close to 50. She chose Northeastern over Connecticut, Princeton, Brown, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among the others.

"I fell in love with Boston, the program, the rink and the school," Berman said.

Through hockey, Berman has been to many places and, more times than not, her father has been along for the ride.

A single parent who is a manager for a car dealership, he guesses he made nearly 100 of Lindsay's college games. It was nothing for him to leave work on a late Saturday afternoon and drive the 400-plus miles to Boston to see the team play on a Sunday. Together, they went to see the Yankees play the Blue Jays during a trip to Toronto, checked out an arena football game in Denver and sat in Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play.

"Me being a single parent, we were already very close. But hockey has brought us so much closer just because we spent so many great times traveling together," he said.

Lindsay Berman, who also played Little League baseball and four years of varsity softball at Arundel High, doesn't hesitate when asked what her most memorable experience has been playing hockey. Last year, she was part of history when she played in the first outdoor women's hockey game at Fenway.

"It didn't seem real until we got there," she said. "Walking out of the Red Sox dugout to play was unbelievable. I'm like, 'We're playing hockey in the infield of Fenway Park.' "

In addition to still playing, Berman also is an assistant coach for the Boston Shamrocks, an under-19 team in the same Junior Women's Hockey League she once played in.

"It's a little different to be on that side of the bench, but it's very rewarding," she said. "I'm learning a lot and I love the kids."

Berman, who has a 3.2 grade-point average, would like to become a college coach and get a job in sports marketing.

"Hockey has definitely been the most important thing in my life," she said. "Time management, being part of a team … it's definitely helped me grow up faster."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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