Women's hockey hopes to turn season around

by Jake Philhower | 1/22/18 2:25am

Dartmouth women’s hockey has a long history of success. For example, in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, the Big Green has appeared in seven championship games, winning four. On an individual level, one of the team’s most notable alumna, Gillian Apps ’06 Tu’19, is a three-time Olympic gold medalist who most recently had a pivotal role in Team Canada’s gold medal campaign at the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014.

Given its history, expectations for the Big Green are always high. However, the team has struggled, posting a 4-14-1 overall record so far this season. This is especially true in conference play, due to the elite competition the team has faced in the ECAC. Though the team has not had the best season record-wise, morale is still high among the players as they look forward to several big conference games in the coming weeks.

“I am very excited for these next eight games,” captain Hailey Noronha ’18 said. “I am not just excited because they are the last of my career. I am excited because we have been improving constantly, and I really think our team can step up to the challenge and do great things.”

On Saturday, the Big Green suffered a tough 8-1 loss to No. 2 Clarkson University. Now the women must face the task of earning a win after four consecutive losses. However, players are looking forward to their big matchups against Colgate University and other ECAC powerhouses.

“Every game out of our next eight is super important,” Caroline Shaunessy ’19 said. “Every game is pretty much a must win. We have a goal of making it to playoffs which means every game for us moving on is do or die.”

Making the playoffs will be a tall order for this team as it is currently 11th in the ECAC standings. Only the top eight teams in the ECAC make the playoffs. Even though the team is slated to play lowest-ranked Brown University on Friday, qualifying for the playoffs will take a string of impressive wins against the top talent in the conference. To do this, the team will need to improve its play and rise to the challenge of its upcoming schedule. After playing the Bears, the team will face Yale University, currently eighth in the ECAC, the Colgate who is tied for first in the conference with Clarkson.

“I think the team needs to improve on playing the entire 60 minutes of a game,” Noronha said. “There are some games when we start very strong and then lose a bit of that in the second or third period.”

Putting together a complete 60 minutes of hockey is one of the keys to success for any hockey team but is especially important when facing tough competition like the Big Green has faced this year. Hockey is a sport in which a game can turn around in a matter of seconds, so if the women are looking to make a playoff push, they have to make every shift count.

One of the biggest keys to success for the Big Green in its wins so far this season is the performance of Christie Honor ’19. The standout goalie has given impressive performances this year, delivering in tight situations and keeping the team in the game many times. Honor has established herself not only as a leader on this team but as a goaltender that can come up big in tight situations.

“The best moment for us in the first half of the season was beating Quinnipiac [University] in [its] own rink, by the score of 1-0,” Noronha said. “Not only did we beat one of the best teams in the league, but our goalie, [Honor], also accomplished a NCAA record in the most saves in a game-winning shutout.”

Honor noted her faith in her teammates, even when put in difficult situations.

“One of the best things about our team is that we don’t have a few individual standout players who carry more weight than others,” Honor said. “Our team is built on the foundation of collaboration, and it takes everyone in the locker room giving their best effort in order for us to be successful.”

Beyond performing on the rink during the weekends, the Big Green faces the challenge of performing in the classroom as well.

“Balancing hockey and academics is definitely difficult at times, especially during the winter term,” Tess Bracken ’19 said. “This month, we’re traveling three out of four weekends, so you need to have good relationships with your professors, as we end up missing many Fridays.”

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Minion Pro'} span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre}

The Big Green is looking to begin its season-saving win streak on Friday against Brown to springboard a successful campaign in the second half of the season.