BY Melanie DaSilva
On Jan. 4, the women’s ice hockey team started the second half of their season. After beating Post University by a score of 11-0 on Jan. 22, the Pioneers earned their fifth New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA) win of the season.
According to Athletic Communications, this is the second time this season the Pioneers have scored in double digits and also the seventh time this season the Pioneers have shut out an opponent.
“The season has gone pretty well so far, we had a pretty solid group of veterans returning and also 11 freshmen that came in as well, so we started the season out by getting everyone on the same page in terms of ultimate goals and chemistry,” said head coach Thomas O’Malley. “It took a little while but we did find success along the way and I like to say right now that the team is on the same page and playing some of the best hockey of the year.”
Sacred Heart University is currently ranked second in the NEWHA standings with six conference games left, hoping to reach the NEWHA Championship at the end of February. They have a stretch of six NEWHA games left to play where they hope to obtain as many points as they can.
On Jan. 18, the Pioneers fell to Quinnipiac University (QU) by a score of 2-1. QU is from the Eastern College Athletic Conference. Despite the loss, freshman Samantha Shoebottom looks at that game as a highlight of the season.
“I think the Quinnipiac game brought us together as a team even more, and gave us greater confidence, skill, and hockey intelligence to use as we find our way into playoffs,” said Shoebottom. “Our team understands exactly what we need to do to get the job done.”
The Pioneers are the defening NEWHA Champions, and have focused on improving their game in certain areas in order to repeat.
“We have been scoring a lot and creating a lot of really good puck movement,” said O’Malley. “It’s not just a one woman show, we have a bunch of players who have put up some serious points this year so I am really happy about that. You look at some teams where they have maybe three or four players doing all of their scoring, yet we have multiple players.”
Twelve players have put up 10 points or more at this point in the season.
“With the influx of new players, it has been amazing to see the chemistry of this team. We have overcome obstacles which has led to a winning season. Both on and off the ice we are a true family,” said senior Lilly Cleary.
The Pioneers return to action on Feb 1, where they will travel to Franklin Pierce for a weekend series.
“From last year to this year, Coach O’Malley has made sure each player understands that champions behave like champions,” said junior Jayne Lewis. “As a team, we focus on one weekend series at a time but know we are always striving to be better each game to be able to reach the championship game.”