UConn women's hockey to begin its season
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 22:09
If the old adage that one learns more through defeat than triumph is true, then the 2012-13 UConn women’s hockey team has a whole textbook of lessons at their disposal heading into the new season.
Last year the Huskies suffered a steep regression from the program’s history of success, posting an overall record of 4-23-7 and finishing seventh among Hockey East’s eight teams.
“We got away from what this program was built on,” Head Coach Heather Linstad admitted.” “It was just a bad mix of a lot of things.”
Though the memories of last season still loom, there is great sense of optimism and momentum heading into the new season. The team will return two of its top scorers from last season, sophomores Emily Snodgrass and Kayla Campero, and will also welcome nine newcomers, including an impressive recruiting class highlighted by goalie Elaine Chuli, who was a part of the U-18 Canadian National Team that defeated Linstad’s American team last January.
“I’m certainly excited about the incoming freshmen. They have shown great pride in what they are doing and have had a great on-ice attitude during practices.”
The team’s roster of 21 will include a combined 13 freshman and sophomores, and only three seniors. This overall youth and inexperience could present an additional set of challenges for Linstad, but she does not view it this way.
“It actually makes my job easier because everything is brand new for them, and younger players are easy to coach,” Linstad said. “I don’t view players by what they are in the classroom (freshmen, sophomores, etc.). I have to judge them by what I see on the ice.”
She is also confident that her seniors will lead by example. “The three seniors bring back the success and experience of the 2009 season, when we were ranked seventh in the country. They’ve already done a good job of implementing what the program is about.”
Looking ahead, the team will begin their season with a seven-game road trip, which will kick off this Saturday with their season opener against Union University, and will last until Oct. 26, when they return home to play Syracuse in their home opener.
“I thought it was important to get them on the road and away from the safe haven of Storrs early. It will certainly help build team camaraderie and unity.”
As for the lessons learned from last season, Linstad believes the turmoil acted as a wakeup call for her players.
“The returning players took time in the spring to recommit themselves to what had always made us successful – conditioning. We needed to get back to being the team that was in better shape at the end of the game.”
Linstad also believes that she herself has grown from the experience. “As a coach, I learned to be patient, and that you have to be built to handle adversity,” Linstad said.
On the ice, Linstad hopes that her team’s offensive production will pick up to match the program’s staple intensity on defense. Last season the Huskies averaged only 1.6 goals per game and ranked last among Hockey East teams. “Offensively we’ve got to get going. Our goal has to be to score three goals per game.”
While there is much room for improvement, Linstad and her team understand the changes will not happen overnight. “We have to focus on consistently playing better and realize that it’s going to have to happen step by step. As long as we’re preparing well, we will be fine.”
Linstad did not hesitate when asked what she would consider a successful 2012-13 season. “Winning Hockey East,” she said.