The blood, the sweat and the tears. Every athlete knows to leave these on the court, field or ice when they play. Just a few weeks after leaving their first set of blood, sweat and tears on the ice at the TD Banknorth Sports Center, the seniors on the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team shed their last set Saturday afternoon during Senior Day.
Unfortunately, the home team could not send its seniors off with a win as Quinnipiac dropped a 5-3 decision to Colgate. On Friday night, the team also lost a nail biter to Cornell 2-1. Quinnipiac finished the season with a record of 8-24-2 (5-16-1 ECACHL).
The Bobcats said goodbye to eight seniors including Kelly Rider, Ashley Jaffray, Natashia Pellatt, Kristin Alcorn, Janelle Wolitski, Stephanie Tougas, Laura Brennan and Jackie Kendrick. A teary-eyed Jaffray summed up her feelings for this team in five words.
“I absolutely love this team,” Jaffray said.
After the Bobcats gave their final salute to the fans and exchanged hugs, Rider, Jaffray, Pellatt and Wolitski were left on the ice. These four players’ final hug seemed to fill the then-empty rink with love and emotion.
While emotions ran high for the seniors, they were not the only ones affected. Head coach Michael Barrett said he had a hard time controlling himself during the pre-game speech in which he thanked the seniors for everything they had done for the program.
“I’m a crybaby,” Barrett said. “The things that I cry about are family and coaching. I thought I could make it through [the speech], but that wasn’t the case.”
Barrett spoke highly of this senior class as he believes it has laid down the foundation that the upcoming players can build upon. He only wished his team could have extended its season, as he labeled his team’s improvement since the first games against Wisconsin as “tremendous.”
“We improved at a faster rate than any other team in our league,” Barrett said. “We are playing our best hockey right now.”
Lost in the celebration of the seniors were the records that were broken by a pair of sophomores. Forward Hayley McMeekin set a record for most goals (15) and most points (30) in a season. Also, forward Jennifer MacLean set a record for assists by adding two in the game against Colgate to give herself 17 for the season.
Along with McMeekin and MacLean, the Bobcats will return a strong core that includes their top six point scorers. Jaffray does not see anyway this team could take a step back.
“These girls want it,” Jaffray said. “I told the freshmen, ‘I can’t wait to see your team when you guys are seniors.'”
Overall, the 2006-07 season had some ups and downs for the Bobcats. It started in September with the team facing off against then-No. 1 Wisconsin in a two-game series. Two months later, the team took Dartmouth all the way to the end, but fell 3-2 to a team that has only lost one game in the ECAC all season. The team’s biggest victory came just two days before the New Year when Quinnipiac upset then-No.9/8 Connecticut, 2-1, in the Nutmeg Classic.
After calling the small Northford Ice Pavilion home for some time, the Bobcats welcomed their new rink at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. The Bobcats played their first game in their new home Jan. 27 against then-No. 1 Mercyhurst College. While the team went 1-3-1 record in its new home, the new rink seemed to bring out the best in this team according to Jaffray.
“Our play jumped up about five times,” Jaffray said. “I wish we had this as freshmen.”
In the end, Quinnipiac finished in 10th place in the ECACHL, but it won two more conference games than last year. For the seniors, four years of practicing and playing hockey does not just make someone a better player, but also a better person.
“I never realized how much this was going to shape me as a person,” Jaffray said. “My parents can’t believe the person I’ve turned myself into.”