‘That’s going to help us win national championships’: Quinnipiac women’s hockey is built for success


Cameron Levasseur

The Quinnipiac women’s hockey team finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 26-10-3.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

A single goal was all that separated Quinnipiac from its first Frozen Four appearance in program history last season. This year, the Bobcats have the roster and the hunger to take that leap.

That success is no guarantee though, something that head coach Cass Turner is well aware of.

“It’s a new year,” Turner said. “There’s no continuation of success from the previous season and I think that’s important for our group to understand that we’re going to have to fight as hard or harder than we did last year to even get to where we got.”

The road to success starts in-conference, where Quinnipiac will yet again have to battle night-in and night-out to earn wins.

The Bobcats were tabbed No. 8 in both the DCU/USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey preseason national polls, the former featuring a remarkable seven ECAC Hockey teams, solidifying the notion that the conference is the nation’s strongest.

“Having seven teams ranked in the poll, it’s pretty amazing to look at the depth we (the ECAC) have,” Turner said. “It puts you in a position where essentially most weekends you’re playing a top 10 team in the country … that means that when it comes time for playoffs, you’re battle-tested, and that’s exactly the type of experience that our students want and that’s the type of competitiveness that’s going to help us win national championships.”

Zooming in past the depth of the conference, Quinnipiac itself is a deep team, returning nine of its top 10 scorers from last season and five of its top six defensemen.

“Looking out at practice and seeing the depth through our forward lines, it’s exciting,” Turner said. “But every year, there’s always some new surprises and opportunities. We have some players on our team who had phenomenal summers … and it may not be the names that you’re always thinking of that maybe you saw in our top nine last year.”

This depth was on display as the Bobcats took on UConn in an exhibition matchup last Saturday, dominating possession for a significant portion of the game en route to a 2-1 win.

Up front, graduate student transfer Shay Maloney centered junior Olivia Mobley and senior Sadie Peart on the Bobcats’ first line. Maloney looked comfortable for her first time in blue and gold, controlling the flow of the offense and aggressively battling for the puck when dispossessed.

Maloney, who transferred from conference foe Brown this past offseason, captained the Bears in 2021-22, leading the team with 11 goals and 19 points in 29 games.

Graduate transfer Shay Maloney had 11 goals and 19 points for Brown last season. (Cameron Levasseur)

“She knows how to put the puck in the net,” Turner said. “She’s strong, she’s physical, and it’s exciting to see what she’s doing already. She’ll play an important role for us, right from the start.”

The Bobcats’ second line of sophomore Veronica Bac, senior Alexa Hoskin and freshman Madison Chantler plays a crash-the-net heavy offensive style. Hoskin’s speed allows her to beat defenders wide and cut hard to the net, opening up rebound opportunities for her linemates.

Look for Bac to break out this season. The Huntley, Illinois, native only recorded three points in 2021-22, but looked strong in Saturday’s contest and is sure to see a significant increase in scoring opportunities moving up from the fourth line into a top-six role this season.

Chantler, who is fresh off a point-per-game season at the U22 level with the Ontario Women’s Hockey League’s London Devilettes, looked experienced in her collegiate debut. The 17-year-old made plays and moved the puck up ice with the confidence of a veteran.

The Bobcats’ offensive production won’t just be limited to its top six, as Quinnipiac’s third unit may be deadly this season. Senior Jess Schryver, one of the best passers on this roster, is centering the line, with sophomore Maya Labad and junior Nina Steigauf on the wings.

Steigauf was third on the team in goals last season and doesn’t look to be slowing pace in 2022-23, potting the opening goal against UConn on Saturday off a sweet backdoor feed from Schryver.

On the other wing, Labad is also primed for a big-time offensive year, fresh off a solid rookie campaign, the goal-scoring second-year has the skill and the players around her to take the jump on the stat sheet.

“She really emerged at the end of the season last year,” Turner said. “She was really impactful for us, scoring in the NCAA tournament, but I think looking at what her spring looked like was even more exciting for us. She trained incredibly hard and her fitness level was one of the top three in our program.”

Turner attributes her improvement in part to a fantastic development camp with Hockey Canada this summer.

“At that development camp she played a phenomenal style of hockey and really, I think, gained a step in her confidence,” Turner said. “To see her now in practice, she really has emerged as one of those sophomores that I think is going to make a big impact on how we play.”

Noticeably absent from the lineup on Saturday were graduate student forward Lexie Adzija and sophomore forward Ann-Fréderik Naud.

Naud led Quinnipiac’s freshman class in points last season with 16 and played big minutes for the Bobcats, including scoring the opening goal in the NCAA Regional Final against Ohio State. A source confirmed to The Chronicle that she is not returning to the team this season.

Adzija, fresh off a summer with Hockey Canada’s Women’s National Development Team, will don the “C” for the Bobcats this season alongside defenseman Zoe Boyd.

Freshman defenseman Zoe Uens is another newcomer set to step into a big role this season. The Belleville, Ontario, product played most of her debut on Quinnipiac’s third pairing and looked solid in a majority of her shifts. Her presence on the offensive blue-line is impressive for a player of her age, and likely a reason why she saw time on the Bobcats’ second power-play unit.

Turner spoke of Uens and Chantler as a collective, both of whom had played at the national level with Hockey Canada.

“Both of them have jumped immediately to this level in practice,” Turner said. “I know they’re going to add great depth and they’re going to impact our lineup.”

Aside from Uens, the Bobcats’ defensive core looks very similar to last season, their only major loss to graduation being team captain Olivia Konigson, with Boyd and Courtney Vorster both returning for a fifth year.

Quinnipiac may have to look to another new face to slot into its defensive rotation to start the season, however, as junior Kendall Cooper, who mans the right point on the Bobcats’ top pairing, reportedly suffered a concussion in the game against UConn.

Sophomore Mia Lopata, who red-shirted her freshman season, and freshman Tiana McIntyre are both options for the Bobcats to turn to if Cooper remains out for an extended period of time.

It’s potentially a huge loss for Quinnipiac, as the Burlington, Ontario, native carried a significant portion of the offensive load for the Bobcats’ defense last season. She tallied 25 points, which was sixth on the team and led all defensemen by 10 points.

As a whole, this Bobcats’ defensive unit, when healthy, looks to be just as effective as in 2021-22, where it finished third in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing an average of 1.51 goals per game.

Though they had a few defensive lapses, Quinnipiac played smothering defense in the slot area for a majority of the game against UConn. Most of the shots the Huskies managed came from the periphery and the only goal they managed came from an odd angle in what was essentially a 5-on-4, as it was the same play Cooper was injured on.

Freshman Tatum Blacker was in net for the Huskies’ lone goal, and aside from that play looked remarkably solid in her first collegiate appearance, facing UConn’s strongest offensive advances of the day while in goal.

“She is a very different goalie than our other goalies,” Turner said. “She’s very athletic, she’s a little bit smaller, but she’s somebody who puts herself in position to make saves and battles like none other, so we’re excited to see her continue to grow.”

Graduate student Logan Angers and junior Catie Boudiette complete the Bobcats’ goaltending trio for the season. These two will see the bulk of the action for Quinnipiac, likely playing a similar tandem system to what Angers and BU transfer Corrine Schroeder managed last year, with Angers getting the 1A starts in Schroeder’s place.

“You look at last year, no doubt Corinne Schroeder had a phenomenal season, but quietly beside her Logan Angers did too,” Turner said. “She played a lot of big games for us, she beat Yale, she beat Cornell 4-0, she … has a lot of experience and confidence behind her being in her fifth year here.”

Turner was quick to share praise for Boudiette as well.

“Catie Boudiette had a phenomenal summer and is really coming into her own,” Turner said. “And if we backtrack two years ago and look at the COVID year, she didn’t allow a goal in any game she played that year, so I think we have great depth and great opportunity at the goaltending position.”

Up and down the lineup, this Quinnipiac team has the pieces to do something special. Five months and 34 games of trial by fire will determine whether or not they will.