The 2005-2006 campaign promises to be a milestone season for the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team. Entering the team’s fourth year coached by Quinnipiac graduate Michael Barrett, it will step onto the ice for the first time as a member of the renowned ECAC hockey conference and with its ranks swelled by an excellent recruiting class.
The importance of entering the ECAC cannot be underestimated. Over the last five seasons, 12 of the 20 teams that have advanced to the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four have come from the ECAC.
“It’s a great honor to be in the best league both athletically and academically in the country,” Barrett said.
The excitement of entering the ECAC comes in conjunction with the arrival of an elite recruiting class. For a team which finished last year severely undermanned as a result of injuries, the influx of a highly touted freshman class promises to be a great boost.
The Bobcats were predicted to finish ninth in both the preseason media and coaches polls. As the top eight teams in the ECAC women’s conference qualify for the playoffs, a playoff berth represents an attainable goal for the team.
“This is the year that we emerge to not only compete but be a force at the next level,” Barrett said.
Last year, Quinnipiac finished with a 5-26-2 record. While nothing about those numbers was satisfying for the team, the season did prove to be a learning experience for the Bobcats. Heavily undermanned, the team was forced to try to compete based on pure work ethic.
“We just pledge to ourselves to never get out-worked,” Barrett said.
The Bobcats will be with year’s senior class. The leadership of four-year captain Caitlin Peters will be missed, as will the contributions of captains Gillian Gallagher and Jayne Riley.
The loss of Catherine Lapare will also prove significant as she was the team’s starting goalie for the majority of its games last year. Lapare’s departure results in a three-way competition for the starting goaltending job between juniors Janelle Wolitski and Stephanie Tougas as well as freshman Connie Craig. The starting goalie for any given game this year will depend simply upon which goalie is playing better at the time.
The young team will draw leadership from captain Kristin Alcorn as well as assistant captains Kathryn Dallimore and Kelly Runyan. Ashley Jaffray, Natashia Pellatt, and Vicky Graham all earned dou-ble-digit point totals last as part of a talented junior class. Sophomore Karrah Stephen was named to the CHA All-Rookie team in her first year.
In accordance with the team’s emphasis on work habits, the team trains hard on the ice though drills and a strenuous weight-lifting regimen. They also work equally hard in the classroom by studying plays and game film.
Barrett places a heavy emphasis on defense.
“My whole philosophy is the team who gives up the least amount of goals wins,” Barrett said.
Considering the caliber of competition that the team will face this year, the play of the Quinnipiac’s goalies could prove a deciding factor in many games.
The season starts for the Bobcats in the Boston area with road games against Boston University and Boston College on Oct. 11 and Oct. 14, respectively. The home opener will take place against Northeastern on Oct. 19.
“As a result of the talent of this year’s team, combined with the reputation of the teams in the (ECAC), people who come to games will have a chance to witness premier women’s college hockey,” Barrett said.