By Jamie Reynolds
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross women's ice hockey season is set to begin this weekend and the team is quickly preparing for the 2012-2013 slate. Twenty-five players returning from the 2011-2012 roster and three newcomers are scheduled to play 25 regular season games. Holy Cross will play 12 home games, 11 road games, and two contests at the Rutland Herald Invitational, hosted by Castleton State. The team will also have nine home and nine away contests in ECAC East action and conclude its season at the ECAC Open Tournament on Feb. 23-24. Senior captain Caroline English (Dorchester, Mass.), who was second on the team in points last season, will lead the way after serving as assistant captain last year.
The Crusaders will begin the season on Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Hart Center against visiting Potsdam State at 1:00 p.m.
Recently, head coach Peter Van Buskirk sat down with GoHolyCross.com to talk about what he expects from his team this season as he enters his 13th year behind the Crusader bench.
GoHolyCross.com: The team officially started team practice on Monday, October 15. How has the preseason gone so far?
Van Buskirk: The pre-season went well with the players coming back in good condition. Their time on the ice prior to October 15th gave them time to be in good skating shape as well.
GoHolyCross.com: English will be taking over the role of captain this season, after spending the 2011-2012 season as assistant captain. Talk a little bit about her qualities as a leader and what she has learned from being an assistant captain as a junior.
Van Buskirk: Caroline has displayed strong leadership qualities since her first year, always hardworking, always focused and very resilient on the ice. Caroline has a very positive attitude and interacts with her teammates very easily. Being an assistant captain last year allowed her to help in being aware of all members of the team and any of their individual issues. She learned the value of being a good listener, a good teammate to all and the expanded role of being a designated leader on the team.
GoHolyCross.com: There will be three assistant captains this season including senior forwards Rebecca O'Quinn (Arlington, Mass.) and Alyssa Ruhland (Minneapolis, Minn.) and junior defenseman Amanda Gallagher (Park Ridge, Ill.). What makes each player a compliment to English in the team leadership roles?
Van Buskirk: Rebecca, Alyssa and Amanda are also strong, confidant and mature young ladies and as such are aware of the importance of their off-ice and on-ice leadership roles. This makes them, along with Caroline, a very good leadership group. Rebecca and Alyssa are seniors and have experienced all situations as players and Amanda is a junior and our only defender. She will help in being a closer link to the non-senior members of the team.
GoHolyCross.com: Along with English, O'Quinn and Ruhland, Alex Campione (Townsend, Mass.) and Megan Reynolds (Marion, Mass.) round out a senior class that played in a combined 104 games last year. How will the seniors as a whole lead the Crusaders to success this season?
Van Buskirk: Seniors are always expected to lead by example and by verbal positive comments. Seniors help to keep the team on course during the season knowing the importance of each player's role to the success of the team.
GoHolyCross.com: You lost one of the greatest women's hockey players of all-time here at Holy Cross in graduate Stacey Hochkins, as well as Nicola Garat who was third on the team in points last year. How will you fill those offensive voids this season?
Van Buskirk: We did lose 40% of our goals with the graduation of Stacey and Nicola but on the positive side we have the players back who scored 60% of our goals last year! We have a good core of young and veteran players with added maturity who will help us produce a positive goals-for to goals-against ratio.
GoHolyCross.com: You have a relatively young team with 17 freshmen and sophomores compared to 11 juniors and seniors. However, nine of the top 15 point scorers from last year will be sophomores this year. Mary Klimasewiski (Cochester, Conn.) returns as the top sophomore and fourth overall point scoring forward and Francisca Panarelli (Shrewsbury, Mass.) returns as the top overall defenseman, statistically. Talk about them and the entire sophomore class.
Van Buskirk: The sophomore class made quite an impact on our team last year stepping in and earning a lot of ice time which is one reason for our optimism for this year. They had to learn fast, and they did, as well as gaining valuable experience which leads to faster decision making and a quicker transition. One needs to learn and apply their experience each year so the sophomores make us more of a veteran team this year than we were last year.
GoHolyCross.com: You have three incoming freshmen this season including Mackenzie Boardman (Anchorage, Alaska), Kati Goguen (Acton, Mass.) and Megan Meskill (Minneapolis, Minn.). What will they bring to the team as first-year players?
Van Buskirk: All of them played in very competitive programs which is always a value. I am expecting they will fill spots and give us added depth.
GoHolyCross.com: Between the pipes graduate Carly Dominick-Sobol was tied for the most action with sophomore Alexandra Stevenson (Norwood, N.Y.), each making nine starts on a team that carried four goaltenders last season. This year, Stevenson returns with fellow classmates Megan Colpitts (Riverview, New Brunswick) and Krista Manzanares (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.). Talk about the goaltender situation going into the season.
Van Buskirk: We have three goalkeepers who saw action last year which is an added strength that is invaluable. Alex and Krista gained starting experience last year and played well. Megan didn't get as much time last year but is a very hard worker who will push Alex and Krista.
GoHolyCross.com: The ECAC East women's hockey preseason poll has not been released yet, but Norwich finished atop the standing last season. Holy Cross was second and Manhattanville and St. Anselm finished in a tie for third. How do see the league being this season?
Van Buskirk: I see the league being just as tight at the top as last year. I see Norwich as the front runner and Manhattanville, St. Anselm and Holy Cross fighting for the next three spots.
GoHolyCross.com: What are the team's goals for the 2012-2013 season?
Van Buskirk: Our goals are the same as last year: 1) Play consistently well from game to game. 2) Win the ECAC East Title. 3) Win the ECAC Open Tournament.