Paul Smith’s adds women’s hockey

Andrea Kilbourne-Hill competes for Team USA in 2001 in preparation for the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, where the Americans won the silver medal. Kilbourne-Hill will head the Paul Smith’s College women’s hockey program that is set to start in 2018. (Enterprise file photo)

Paul Smith’s College announced Friday that it will add a women’s hockey program next year that will be headed by Olympic silver medalist Andrea Kilbourne-Hill.

The Bobcats hockey team will hit the ice for the first time in the fall of 2018 and will play its home games at the Saranac Lake Civic Center.

“I’m excited to help bring women’s hockey to Paul Smith’s College,” said Kilbourne-Hill, a Saranac Lake resident, in a press release. “I see the addition of a women’s hockey team at Paul Smith’s as a win-win. It’s a win for Paul Smith’s College. Adding a women’s hockey team will bring driven and motivated female students onto this beautiful campus.

“The addition of a women’s hockey team is also a win for women’s hockey in general. Collegiate hockey is competitive and many very good youth players aren’t able to play at the college level. The Paul Smith’s team will provide more opportunity for these players to continue to play the game they love.”

Kilbourne-Hill attended Northwood School in Lake Placid, won an Olympic silver medal with USA Hockey at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and graduated from Princeton University in 2003. While playing collegiately for the Tigers, Kilbourne-Hill was a candidate for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given annually to the top women’s college hockey player. She was also a three-time Most Valuable Player at Princeton.

Kilbourne-Hill has served as head coach at Lake Placid High School, Northwood School and for USA Hockey at National Player Development Festivals.

“Andrea has seen it all as a player and a coach,” Paul Smith’s College President Cathy S. Dove said. “Paul Smith’s College feels very fortunate that we can bring in a person with the complete experience that she has.

“It’s a double banner day for us at Paul Smith’s College. Adding a new sport to our campus, led by someone with Andrea’s resume, is going to be exciting for the North Country, and will certainly be noticed in the women’s college hockey world.”

Men’s varsity hockey ended in 2003, but currently enjoys club status. Kilbourne-Hill will bring her organizational skills to invigorate both programs.

“Given our proximity to Lake Placid and the nature of our academic majors, it seems women’s ice hockey is a nice addition to the athletic program and the college in general,” PSC athletics director Jim Tucker said. “Having someone of Andrea’s background and knowledge of the women’s international ice hockey world will enhance the potential of bringing in international women’s players from the get-go.”

The initiative to include women’s hockey was spurred by Chairman Emeritus Phil Saunders, who spends much of each summer in the High Peaks region.