The Sacred Heart University women’s ice hockey team opened up their season with back to back losses against no. 9 ranked Clarkson University on Sept. 23 and 24.
After finishing fourth in the NEWHA a season ago, the Pioneers are looking to once again reign supreme atop the conference, having not done so since 2017-18.
“I think we definitely have a team this year that can go very far and find a lot of success,” said graduate student Kelly Solak, team captain and 2021-22 NEWHA Defender of the Year. “I am really excited to watch us grow and get better everyday, and hopefully win a championship this year.”
Underclassmen on the team also have high aspirations for their performance throughout the season, like sophomore Carly Greene, a goaltender who went 2-0 in her two starts last season, and is looking to continue her successes from the 2021-2022 season.
“I love competing in big games,” said Greene. “I can’t wait to get going.”
Midway through their season, the Pioneers will begin play at the Martire Family Arena, the new home for men’s and women’s ice hockey located at West Campus.
They will drop the puck for the first time at the Martire Family Arena against Harvard University on Jan. 15, 2023. The brand-new facility is expected to be completed in November, with practice beginning right before Thanksgiving.
“It’s going to be like the Taj Mahal of hockey arenas in the world, not just the country,” said Head Coach Tom O’Malley, who has been watching the arena progress throughout the summer. “It’s state-of-the-art everything. The top technologies, all of that has been put into it.”
Since the 2014-15 season, the women have played at the Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton, where they will host the first seven home games of the season.
Both O’Malley and the squad agree that the move has great implications for their program.
“I think being in the new arena will bring so much energy and attention to the program from our school and community that will make competing and playing even more exciting,” said Solak. “The new arena plays a big role in growing our program and putting Sacred Heart on the map as a nationally ranked hockey program.”
Greene also noted the importance of the new arena for growing the women’s team at SHU.
“The Martire Family Arena will bring a lot of positive attention to our program and the NEWHA conference as a whole,” said Greene. “We are excited to have access to top-tier training equipment and recovery tools that will improve our game.”
Although the prospect of the arena excites both players and coaches, the first games in Shelton are still important to the team in setting the tone for the season. The Pioneers went 10-4-1 on home ice last season and are looking to maintain that edge this year, despite the change in location.
“We’re on the doorstep of another great season of Sacred Heart University women’s hockey,” said O’Malley. “We’re looking forward to the year, we’re ready to compete, we’re ready to win some games, we’re ready to give our absolute best. The team has been working extremely hard. Everyone’s just really, really excited.”
Following their opening weekend of games, the Pioneers have a week off before beginning NEWHA play against Post University on Oct. 4.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.