The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team has been picked to finish ninth in ECAC Hockey as voted by the coaches in the conference this past week. This is two spots higher than last season, when the Bobcats were picked to finish 11th in the preseason poll.
Led by senior captain Kallie Flor, the team will look to build off of last season’s 3-26-5 campaign, when they open up regular season play Saturday, Oct. 3 against Sacred Heart at the TD Bank Sports Center. Entering his second season at the helm, head coach Rick Seeley is confident that his team will improve on last season.
“We’re really excited about what they’ve brought back to the table,” Seeley said. “I just think that us having the opportunity to know each other, we both know what to expect this year and it gives us a head start.”
The Bobcats have 14 new players on the roster this season, including freshmen Breehan Polci and Regan Boulton. One player who could really make a difference this season is freshman forward Heather Hughes. Hughes tallied her first goal in a Bobcat jersey on Friday in Quinnipiac’s 4-1 exhibition win over the Bluewater Jr. Hawks.
“She brings a scoring knack that this program hasn’t had for awhile, since a (Hayley) McMeekin or a (Jennifer) MacLean,” Seeley said.
The Bobcats lost five seniors to graduation last season, most notably forward Elyse Cole and defenseman and last year’s captain, Trudy Reyns. Cole lead the team in scoring last season with 10 goals and nine assists, and finished her career as the program’s all-time leading goal scorer. The Bobcats will also have a new goaltending core behind them, with both Nanna-Holm Glaas and Tia Wishart leaving the team after last season.
The Bobcats struggled to find the back of the net last year, only scoring 44 goals in 34 games. Despite losing Cole, Seeley expects that his returning players will be able to not only pick up the slack, but improve on last season’s offensive output.
“Janine Duffy is primed to have a great senior year, as is Kallie Flor,” Seeley said. “A couple of the sophomores are coming along, such as Kate Wheeler and Chelsea Illchuk. I think it will just be a natural progression with the returners.”
What it all means:
Last season’s record may appear dismal at first glance, but the win-loss record doesn’t tell the whole story. The Bobcats were competitive in the majority of their games, losing 17 of 26 games by only two goals or less. There’s no question the team will be improved offensively, but the real key to success may lie behind the Bobcats’ blue line.
Seeley’s squad is very young defensively, with three sophomores and three freshmen, and a group of freshmen goaltenders to boot. If he can get the freshmen to grow up quickly and contribute, don’t be surprised to see this team make its first ECAC Hockey playoff appearance in school history.