October 9, 2012

Women's ECAC Hockey 2012-13 season preview

By Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

New England Hockey Journal takes a look at who's gone, who's back and what lies ahead for each of the 12 women's teams in ECAC Hockey. 

BROWN BEARS

Last season: 8-16-7 (5-13-4 ECAC, tied for eighth)

Who’s gone: Paige Pyett, D

Who’s back: Aubree Moore, jr., G; Sarah Robson, so., F

Outlook: Brown made the playoffs last season and showed marked improvement in its first year under coach Amy Bourbeau. Moore returns after being a finalist for ECAC Goalie of the Year and should be a strength for this young team. The Bears will look to strengthen their defense to help Moore, but they will have to do it without last season’s starting right defenseman, Lauren Vella, who is out due to injury. Robson (10-7-17) will lead the offense after a stellar freshman season. Eight freshmen will vie for ice time, with Emma Pearson expected to be a big boost on defense immediately. Brown has a competitive schedule off the bat, facing Cornell, Colgate and Princeton in the first three weekends.

COLGATE RED RAIDERS

Last season: 10-21-2 (5-15-2 ECAC, 10th)

Who’s gone: Shannon Doyle, D; Kimberly Sass, G

Who’s back: Jenna Klynstra, sr., F; Melissa Kueber, so., F; Brittany Phillips, sr., F; Taylor Volpe, jr., F

Outlook: Colgate starts the season with a new coach, Greg Fargo, who spent four seasons leading Division 3 Elmira College. The Raiders’ defense took a hit with the departure of leading defenseman Doyle to Boston University and the graduation of Amanda Kirwan. The Raiders bring in three freshman defensemen to help fill the void. Goaltending also is a question mark; Sass started 33 games last season, not giving her backups much action. Sophomore Susan Allen will compete with former NAHA goalie Ashlynne Rando for the starting gig. Volpe (7-7-14) and Klynstra (4-14-18) are expected to step up for Colgate’s offense.

DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN

Last season: 18-10-2 (14-6-2 ECAC, fourth)

Who’s gone: Kelly Foley, F

Who’s back: Camille Dumais, sr., F; Reagan Fischer, sr., F; Lindsay Holdcroft, jr., G; Sasha Nanji, sr., D

Outlook: Dartmouth is returning a big group, having lost only four players to graduation. However, the injury bug hit especially hard in the offseason. Coach Mark Hudak warned that the team would get off to a “slower than expected start.” Holdcroft looks to be the Big Green’s starting goalie, having played 25 games (.926 save percentage) as a sophomore. Hudak loves the amount of experience he has on defense, with three seniors leading the way. Nanji returns for her senior season, and she is one of the ECAC’s top defensemen. Fischer is the Big Green’s most defensive-minded forward, but she was sidelined in the preseason with an ankle injury.

PRINCETON TIGERS

Last season: 12-15-4 (10-10-2 ECAC, seventh)

Who’s gone: Paula Romanchuk, F; Rachel Weber, G

Who’s back: Sally Butler, jr., F; Denna Laing, jr., F; Ali Pankowski, so., D; Corey Stearns, sr., F

Outlook: Princeton will try to move up the ECAC standings despite a smaller bench than some of their competitors. Goaltending will be a question for Princeton. Last season’s starting goalie (Weber) graduated, and Ashley Holt played in only one game. Freshmen Kimberly Newell, who has spent much of her career playing on boys teams in her native British Columbia, could get a shot at the starting job. Leading scorer Butler (15-11-26) returns, as well as right winger Stearns, who saw some time late in the season on the first line. The Tigers return an experienced defense, with Pankowski, Rose Alleva and Gabie Figueroa leading the way.

CLARKSON GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Last season: 22-10-5 (15-5-2 ECAC, third)

Who’s gone: Juana Baribeau, F; Katelyn Ptolemy, D

Who’s back: Erica Howe, jr., G; Carly Mercer, jr., F; Jamie Lee Rattray, jr., F; Danielle Skirrow, sr., F

Outlook: Clarkson flies under the radar, but with the amount of talent the Golden Knights are returning, they may not be able to be ignored. Howe is going into her third season as the starting goaltender for the Golden Knights. Last season, she was the team’s MVP, with a 1.75 goals-against average, good for sixth in Division 1. She also had seven shutouts. The forward corps remains solid behind Mercer (14-26-40) and Rattray (19-19-38). Skirrow is a special-teams leader, finishing last season with 10 power-play goals. The defense will get a boost from two freshmen with Canadian National Team camp experience, Erin Ambrose and Renata Fast.

CORNELL BIG RED

Last season: 30-5-0 (20-2-0 ECAC, first, lost to Minnesota in NCAA semifinal)

Who’s gone: Rebecca Johnston, F; Amanda Mazzotta, G; Catherine White, F

Who’s back: Laura Fortnio, sr., D; Brianne Jenner, jr., F; Lauriane Rougeau, sr., D; Jillian Saulnier, so., F; Lauren Slebodnick, jr., G

Outlook: The Big Red are expected to continue their winning ways despite graduating seven seniors. The Big Red have the best defensive corps on the East Coast, with both Fortino and Rougeau making the ECAC Preseason All-League Team. Fortino is the league’s best Offensive Defenseman, with more than 30 assists last season. Slebodnick started 17 games including the 3OT NCAA semifinal victory vs. Boston University and got valuable U.S. National U22 Team experience this summer. Jenner will lead the forward corps again this season.

HARVARD CRIMSON

Last season: 22-9-1 (17-4-1 ECAC, second)

Who’s gone: None

Who’s back: Josephine Pucci (Pearl River, N.Y.), sr., D; Laura Bellamy, sr., G; Jillian Dempsey, sr., F; Lyndsey Fry, F; Marissa Gedman, D; Gina McDonald, jr., F

Outlook: The Crimson took the advice of “Project Runway” star Tim Gunn last season and “made it work.” They finished second in a competitive ECAC despite a limited bench. They bring seven freshmen on board, including Emerance Maschmeyer, Canada’s gold-medal winning goalie in the 2012 IIHF U18 Tournament. She’ll push Bellamy for the starting job. Dempsey will lead the offensive corps after a 27-goal, 21-assist junior year. Coach Katey Stone also has high expectations for McDonald, who has come back to campus strong. Stone wants freshman Mary Parker to “step up right away.”

QUINNIPIAC BOBCATS

Last season: 19-16-2 (12-8-2 ECAC, sixth)

Who’s gone: Bethany Dymacrczyk, D; Kate Wheeler, F

Who’s back: Kelly Babstock, jr., F; Regan Boulton, sr., D; Nicole Kosta, so., F; Victoria Vigilanti, sr., G

Outlook: Quinnipiac is chock full of talent and ready to take another leap this season. The Bobcats need to step up their game another level this season to stay in the midst of the ECAC. The Bobcats lost seven games last season by only one goal. Babstock (18-22-40) will need to keep up the offensive output that made her an ECAC Preseason All-League Team pick. When she centers Kosta, the two make a powerful scoring combo. Kosta led the team in assists last season. Boulton will lead a veteran defensive corps that will need to chip in in front of senior goaltender Vigilanti.

RPI ENGINEERS

Last season: 9-21-4 (6-14-2 ECAC, tied for eighth)

Who’s gone: Jill Vandergrift, F

Who’s back: Eleeza Cox, so., F; Taylor Horton, sr., F; Taylor Mahoney, so., F; Kelly O’Brien, so., G; Brianna Piper, so., G; Jordan Smelker, jr., F

Outlook: RPI not only finished eighth in the conference standings last season but also finished eighth in both team offense and team defense. The Engineers need to improve in both areas to make a move in the league. Both Piper and O’Brien are returning, but both finished near the bottom of the league in goaltending categories. Sara Till could get a look in net depending on the preseason. Cox (13-10-23) and Smelker (10-16-26) led the team in scoring last season. Increasing scoring output will be key to the Engineers’ fate; last season, 12 of their losses were by two goals or more.

ST. LAWRENCE SAINTS

Last season: 24-10-4 (14-6-2 ECAC, tied for fourth, tournament champion)

Who’s gone: Karell Emard, F

Who’s back: Amanda Boulier, so., D; Brooke Fernandez, sr., D; Carmen MacDonald, so., G; Kelly Sabatine, sr., F; Rylee Smith, jr., F

Outlook: St. Lawrence edged Cornell in the ECAC tournament and made the NCAA tournament last season, and the Saints return the bulk of that talented team. Smith (19-27-46) and Sabatine (22-25-47) led the team in scoring last season, while also tying for fourth in scoring in conference play. Sabatine has 107 career goals through three seasons. Defensively, the Saints return five of the six defensemen who played in the tournament, including Fernandez, who also is a key contributor on offense. MacDonald made 31 starts as a freshman, including six shutouts.

UNION DUTCHMEN

Last season: 4-26-4 (2-18-2 ECAC, 11th)

Who’s gone: Molly Kate Devin, F; Kate Gallagher, G; Dania Simmonds, D

Who’s back: Rhianna Kurio, sr., F; Shenae Lundberg, so., G; Bryanne Panchuck, so., F; Christine Valente, so., F

Outlook: The Dutchman are returning 16 letterwinners this season, bringing the team much needed experience. “We have depth in the goaltending position,” coach Claudia Asano Barcomb said. Lundberg saw action in 14 games last season, with Alana Marcinko playing in seven. Freshman Maddie Dahl will pressure for time in net right away. Union will have four returning defensemen, three of whom are sophomores. Freshman Rebecca Babiak will be pressed into service immediately at center.

YALE BULLDOGS

Last season: 1-27-1 (1-20-1 ECA, 12th)

Who’s gone: Heather Grant, D; Aleca Hughes, F; Genny Ladiges, G

Who’s back: Jackie Raines, jr., F; Jaimie Leonoff, so., G; Stephanie Mock, so., F; Danielle Moncion, sr., F

Outlook: Yale had a long season last year, but spirits are high after some intense conditioning through the spring, summer and preseason. More offensive output is needed to compete with the Cornells and Harvards of the ECAC. Raines is the top returning scorer, but she tallied only nine goals and three assists last season. A boost could come by the way of Hanna Astrom, a former Swedish National Team member. Astrom shares a home country with head coach Joakim Flygh. Leonoff played 11 games in goal last season, but freshman and Canadian National Team camp invitee Rachelle Graham may get some meaningful time.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

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