Depth, chemistry and a No. 8 national ranking: Women’s ice hockey hungry for an ECAC championship

Benjamin Yeargin, Contributing Writer

The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team faced a unique season in 2020-21, unlike any in the program’s long history.

COVID-19 filled the season with uncertainty and challenged this Bobcats team. Instead of the normal 36-game schedule that the team normally plays, the Bobcats had only 16. In those games, they went 10-6 overall, going 4-5 in ECAC Hockey play and lost to No. 6 Colgate in the ECAC Hockey semifinals 2-1.

The players are as excited as ever for a full upcoming season of Quinnipiac hockey.

The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team has started the season 4-0. Photo from Alex Bayer

“I think we’re really looking forward to having that full schedule and playing teams we haven’t played in a long time,” graduate student defenseman and captain Olivia Konigson said.

This season marks the first time since March 2020 that fans can attend games in the People’s United Center at full capacity to cheer for Quinnipiac.

“It’s super nice for us, we’ve been getting some students out to our games … obviously playing in front of fans and getting their energy helps us play better and gets us more excited for games,” senior forward Lexie Adzija said.

Entering this year, the Bobcats lost four key players: forwards Grace Markey, Laura Lundblad, Brooke Bonsteel and Taylor Girard, who was selected first overall in the NWHL draft by the Connecticut Whale.

Girard was second on the team in points with 16, tied for first in goals with graduate student forward Taylor House, and was second on the team in assists with nine.

“Those players cared so much about Quinnipiac hockey and having every play they made on the ice matter,” Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey head coach Cass Turner said. “They truly added to our culture, they truly changed how we approached the game. If you could be at any of our video sessions so far, it’s been Brooke Bonsteel, Laura Lundblad, Taylor Girard, Grace Markey, the how-to, the little things that make such a big difference.”

The Bobcats added more depth this year to fill in the spaces that these leaders had, especially at forward and goaltender. Quinnipiac brought in eight new players, a combination of first-years and transfer students, to add to an already deep team. The Bobcats acquired junior forward Jessica Schryver and graduate student goaltender Corinne Schroeder from Northeastern and Boston University, respectively.

First-year forwards Veronica Bac, Maya Labad and Ann-Frédérik Naud have all earned themselves a point in the Bobcats’ first four games this season.

From a player’s standpoint, the new depth improves the quality of the culture and the team’s chemistry.

“We are really deep this year, they’ve brought in not only great players but great people as well,” Adzija said. “… In years past, we are practicing now like we were practicing a couple months in.”

Returning key Bobcats include Adzija, who led the Bobcats in points with 18 last year, Konigson, House, graduate student forward Renee Saltness and sophomore defenseman Kendall Cooper.

Konigson, House and Adzija will provide the much-needed leadership that this team needs to succeed.

Sophomore forward Olivia Mobley has earned herself eight points, equalling her total from last year. She scored four goals in two days against the Long Island University (LIU) Sharks.

Senior forward Lexie Adzija led the Bobcats in points (18) in last year’s 16-game season and has five points through four games this season. Photo from Alex Bayer

Quinnipiac’s schedule this year began soft, with non-conference play against Maine and LIU, who both had losing records last season.
The schedule then gets progressively more challenging with a two-game set against Providence followed by eight straight ECAC Hockey matchups, seven of which come against schools returning to play after opting out of the 2020-21 season.

Providence earned itself a 12-8-1 record during the shortened 2020-21 season. Following Providence, Quinnipiac faces Princeton twice and Yale, Cornell and Colgate once.

Cornell and Princeton are currently ranked No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, on the latest USCHO women’s hockey poll, right behind of the Bobcats.

No team in the Ivy League played last season but during the 2019-20 season, Princeton finished second with a record of 17-4-1 and Cornell, who finished undefeated in ECAC Hockey play with a final record of 19-0-3.

Colgate, coming off an ECAC Hockey championship last year, has had Quinnipiac’s number over the past year, scoring 17 times compared to the Bobcats’ seven.

Quinnipiac then competes in the Nutmeg Classic against fellow Connecticut teams Yale, Sacred Heart and UConn on Nov. 26-27.
After a brief winter break, the Bobcats face Wisconsin, the current No. 1 ranked team in the country by USCHO, for a two-game road series beginning on New Year’s Day.

This will be a challenging game for the Bobcats as both teams have incredible depth. From then on, the Bobcats play 14 straight ECAC Hockey conference games to close the season.

Dates that the Bobcats should have circled on their calendar during this stretch include Jan. 8, when they play the always-competitive Clarkson, who finished third in the ECAC Hockey in 2020-21.

The Bobcats also have one more game against Colgate, Cornell and a battle of Whitney Avenue against Yale.

A fair prediction for the Bobcats this year is that they will go 25-5-4 overall, and they will win the ECAC Hockey championship.

“To have the entire ECAC back and intact, we have the best league in the country,” Turner said.

Quinnipiac has the depth, culture, and chemistry that can take the throne of the best collegiate hockey league in the country. The locker room for this Bobcats team is connected, focused and ready to compete.

“When I’ve won championships, that’s what it’s felt like in the locker room,” Adzija said.