2009-10 Women’s Hockey Preview

The 2008-2009 season was arguably the best in the short Division I history of Colgate women’s hockey. The team finished fifth in ECAC Hockey, its best-ever finish, and lost a hard-fought quarterfinal series against perennial national power, Dartmouth College, on the road. The 2009-2010 team is hoping to build on last year’s success and continue growing as a Division I program. Their first opportunity to do so will be this upcoming weekend. Tomorrow, they will travel to the third-ranked University of New Hampshire, followed by a quick jaunt to Boston College.

Colgate comes into the season with relatively low expectations, even given the exceptional performance of the team last year. The Raiders were picked to finish eighth in the ECAC Pre-Season Poll, as voted on by the league’s coaches.

Among the key returners for Colgate will be ECAC All-Rookie team, Rookie of the Year, and Goaltender of the Year sophomore Kim Sass. Last year, Sass led the Raiders to their fifth-place finish with a 14-7-3 record and a .927 save percentage. She will be important in Colgate’s quest for success this year. Junior goaltender Lisa Plenderleith has also seen many minutes and will provide complement Sass throughout the entire year.

On the blue line, the Raiders return three lettermen led by senior captain Ali Edell. Edell has played a total of 104 games throughout her career and will provide ample experience for this year’s defensemen. Sophomores Amanda Kirwan and Kristi-Lyn Pollock are also coming off solid first-year campaigns and combined for 60 games last year, which should serve them well going into their second year as Colgate defensemen.

The Raiders return a cast of nine forwards, led by senior captains Marissa Dombovy and Beth Rotenberg. Colgate returns an experienced group of forwards, spread through each returning class, which should increase their contribution this year.

Six first-years will join the women’s hockey team this year. Three are defensemen, two are forwards, and one is a goaltender. With a very young team, Coach Wiley will have to rely on young talent. All six of them will be competing for ice time with the older players and are expected to contribute immediately.

“We will need to get all players comfortable with the systems and get players into their roles,” Head Coach Scott Wiley said. “This year it will be important to get our new players prepared up to speed quickly. This year’s new players will be counted on more than ever and they will be put in key positions from the start. We have been off to a good start and I am very optimistic about the start of the season.”

Wiley also talked about the strengths of his team as they head into their first regular season weekend.

“We will have solid goaltending and should have a well-balanced attack,” Wiley said. “We have two proven, talented goaltenders that compete well and make things difficult for any opponent. We will have a number of players that are capable of scoring and I feel confident that our team will score goals. Our special teams’ play last year was excellent and I expect that to continue.”

Last season’s success has not changed the women’s hockey team’s goals at all. They will still have the same ending in mind: seeing themselves as the 2009-2010 ECAC Hockey Champions.

“Every year we set a goal of winning the ECAC and this year will be no different,” Wiley said. “The league is wide open and any team can win the title. The parity in our league this year will be great. We are also looking to get off to a strong start and get some good results early. Our focus right now is preparing for UNH and Boston College on the road this weekend. It should give us a good gauge as to where we are at.”

The Raiders will open their season with four straight road games before returning home for their home opener in a weekend series against Wayne State University. Colgate will open ECAC play on Halloween weekend, playing host to the fifth-ranked Harvard Crimson and the eighth-ranked Dartmouth Big Green.