Taze Thompson: Harvard transfer finds home at NU

Sophomore+forward+Taze+Thompson+seizes+the+puck+from+LIU.+Thompson%2C+a+transfer+from+Harvard%2C+has+tallied+one+goal+and+three+assists+in+her+first+eight+games+as+a+Husky.

Valerie O'Neill

Sophomore forward Taze Thompson seizes the puck from LIU. Thompson, a transfer from Harvard, has tallied one goal and three assists in her first eight games as a Husky.

Kyle Smith, news correspondent

Hockey has always been an important part of Taze Thompson’s life. 

“I was in skates before I could even walk,” Thompson told The News.

A sophomore forward on the women’s ice hockey team and Harvard University transfer, Thompson has been an instrumental part of the Huskies’ 7-1 start to the season, already contributing a goal and three assists. 

Some of Thompson’s earliest memories are watching her father, Rocky Thompson, play for the Peoria Rivermen, a professional team in the American Hockey League. Whatever games she couldn’t catch at the stadium she would watch on TV, which was almost always tuned to a hockey game. 

Thompson’s father spent two years with the Rivermen as part of a 12-year professional career spanning across four different leagues. It was the nature of his career that he moved teams, and thus cities, so Thompson spent much of her childhood moving around. Her family eventually settled in New England, where Thompson captained New Hampton’s hockey team, being named the 2019-2020 New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Small School Player of the Year.

The passion she discovered off the ice was perhaps more important than her performance on it, Thompson said. She was a project leader for Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, a nonprofit that works with children who come from underprivileged backgrounds. 

Thompson said it was a “humbling experience” and one she especially cherished. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the program temporarily shut down, she said she was devastated, but her passion for serving underprivileged communities never wavered. 

This passion heavily influenced her decision to transfer from Harvard, despite having led the Harvard freshmen with 20 points in the 2021-2022 season. Northeastern’s Human Services program, one not available at Harvard, would allow Thompson to pursue her interests in this field as part of a psychology and human services double major. 

She said she has found another way to give back, partnering with an organization in Boston that works with immigrant parents. She works with some of the members a few days a week, teaching them English and helping them acclimate to life in the United States. 

Thompson said she had some acclimating of her own to do while settling into life as a Husky. This alone is no easy task, as Thompson had to navigate a new school while also balancing homework and a social life with a sport that has significant responsibilities of its own. Thompson says her organizational skills allow her to juggle all these responsibilities. 

The key, she says, is “100% focus on whatever is in front of me at the moment.” 

Thompson also credits the hospitality of everyone at NU with easing some of the pressure many transfers face. One thing she said immediately struck her when she arrived on campus was how accommodating and friendly everyone was. 

“I never felt like a stranger,” Thompson said. “Everyone made me feel welcome.” 

She said she found her team to be a tight-knit community, one that accepted her into the fold almost instantly. 

“We gelled right away,” Thompson said. 

Hanging out with teammates off the ice, Thompson said, has gone a long way to building chemistry with them on it. 

Getting minutes and experience in games and practices is crucial too, and this is something the coaching staff values tremendously, associate head coach Nick Carpenito said. He said the team aims for practices to be as close in intensity to real games as possible. 

“You get the best chemistry when you go to battle,” Carpenito said. “That’s where you truly hone your skills.” 

“Intensity” is a word Carpenito used often when talking about Taze, describing her as “a real hard worker.” This work ethic is something that comes through in her style of play on the ice, he said. 

Thompson does her best work in the “dirty areas,” as Carpenito described them, where things can get very physical. Carpenito said this part of her game complements those of her linemates especially well, and it’s her willingness to do this dirty work that makes her such a valuable asset to any team. 

“It’s easy to fit in on a team when she has the work ethic and personality,” Carpenito said.  

Sophomore forward Skylar Irving, a linemate and close friend of Thompson, also stressed Thompson’s team-first mentality. 

Irving said she and Thompson often stay after practice to get more shots off and fine tune their mechanics. 

“She’s always pushing everyone to be better,” Irving said. 

Thompson and Irving played against each other in high school and stayed friends due to their close proximity within the hockey community. They talked over the summer before the season, and their play styles meshed well when they got together on the ice, Carpenito said. 

Irving shared the same sentiment, calling Thompson a “really, really good skater” and a player who “sees the ice really well.”   

This willingness to put in effort for the benefit of the team makes Thompson an important part of a Husky squad looking to build momentum off its 7-1 start. It was in one of these early season games, a 4-1 win against the University of Connecticut on October 8th, where Thompson scored her first goal as a Husky. She added two assists in the win, totaling an impressive three-point performance. 

Though Thomspon said there was “a little pressure” to score her first goal, she emphasized her team’s support in her first few games.  

“Everyone just wanted me to play my game,” Thompson said.

And “play her game” she will. If anyone happens to make the trip to Matthews Arena to watch a game, they’ll probably see Thompson battling it out in front of the net or on the boards. She might score, she might not, but she’ll give it her full effort every second she’s on the ice, no matter the score.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Oct. 27 at 12:35 p.m. to correct the name of Taze’s high school