“That’s what makes her special,” said head coach Cara Morey. “She’s not in it for a scoring race.”
Still, her stats are hard to ignore: As the Tigers look to extend their 19-game unbeaten streak this weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, Fillier is one of two players in the nation averaging more than two points per game — and the top-scoring freshman, with 13 goals and 22 assists. (Fellow Tiger Maggie Connors ’22 ranks third among freshmen with 15 goals and 11 assists). Fillier recently was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Month and the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Rookie of the Month.
The Tigers are in first place in ECAC Hockey, two points ahead of Cornell. They’ve only lost twice this season, both against No. 1 Wisconsin in October, and they haven’t lost a game since. At 14-2-5, they have the longest unbeaten streak in program history and the longest current streak in the nation.
“It’s crazy coming in and getting to be a part of a record-setting season,” Fillier said. “It was such a surprise.”
Morey wasn’t expecting it either. She knew she had a good team, with leading scorers Carly Bullock ’20 and Karlie Lund ’19 returning, but she had no idea how the season would go. “We focused more on the culture of our locker room and the family piece we have in the program,” Morey said, “and the results started taking care of themselves.”
Family is something Fillier knows well, with her twin sister Kayla joining her on the ice. The two started out on different teams — Sarah played with the boys and Kayla with the girls — but in high school they started playing on the same team, and on the same line.
“In practice, the hardest I see Sarah compete is when Kayla is lined up against her in a drill,” Morey said. “It brings out the fierce competitor in both of them.”
Having played together since high school, Sarah and Kayla have helped each other make the transition to college. “Having Kayla around is like having a little piece of home with you,” said Sarah, who moonlights as her sister’s biggest fan.
Morey remembers their game against RPI when Kayla chased down a loose puck and fed another teammate one of the finest goals of the season. The happiest person on the bench was Sarah.
While Kayla has been solid in her debut season, Sarah is on another level, with ambitions to play for Canada in the 2022 Olympics. She is only the second player to compete at all three levels of the Canadian national program in the same calendar year, captaining the under-18 team to a bronze medal at the World Championships before playing on the development team and the national team.
“Sarah’s potential is through the roof,” Morey said. “She has that drive, but she also has a really good balance about it.”