While many on campus have been outside enjoying unusually warm weather, the St. Lawrence Women’s Hockey team has already turned their focus towards the chillier months. Scheduled to play their first game this weekend, the team is looking to build off of last year’s success, which saw the Saints play without a loss for eighteen straight games to open the season. Additionally, two players received Top-Ten nominations for the Patty Kazmaier Award, the USA Hockey Foundation’s trophy for the best NCAA Division I player.
One of those players was recent graduate and forward for the team, Brooke Webster ‘17, who racked up 23 goals and 34 assists, leading the team in points. In addition to Webster, the Saints also graduated a pair of defenseman, Kirsten Padalis ‘17 and Alex Moore ‘17. While the three left big shoes to fill, the Saints look to their four first-year students to bring energy into the lineup. “I think they are [the freshmen] a really good class,” says goaltender Sonjia Shelly ‘19, “those important roles are obviously things that you build up to, but we have some pretty good seniors this year too, and I definitely think they’ll be people that we look to for some good goals.”
Those seniors take the form of high-power forwards, Kennedy Marchment, Hannah Miller, and Michelle Alonardo, as well as solid defenseman, Amanda McClure. Marchment trailed just behind Webster in the 2016-17 season, with 20 goals and 36 assists, and also received a Patty Kazmaier nomination. Miller rounds out the top three in points for the Saints, and McClure ties for most goals by a defenseman at five goals. Between the pipes, starting goaltender, Grace Harrison, is expected to have another impressive year after being named a finalist for the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year.
The revitalized Saints hope to improve last year’s postseason run, which culminated in a 6-0 loss to perennial power, Boston College, in the NCAA Quarterfinals. “I think the best way to improve on [last season] is to not think about it. The best thing to do is to start off with a fresh slate and look at this year and this year alone. You can reflect on the success of last year, but you can’t dwell on it and just expect it to be the same. You have to work for it,” says Shelly.
They will get the chance to do just that, as Boston College travels up to Appleton Arena for the first time since 2014 for a pair of games on November 10th and 11th. Other scheduled highlights include a trip to Anaheim, California to face Lindenwood University in early January, and four matchups against storied rival and reigning NCAA National Champion, Clarkson University.
The upcoming schedule will provide well-matched hockey for the Saints and their fans, and the team’s recent rise to the top is demonstrative of the sport’s own advance. “For most of us, this is our endpoint, so these are some of the best women in the country. Women’s hockey has progressed really far, the point that we’re at right now is pretty incredible,” says Shelly. Indicative of such, is St. Lawrence’s very own Marchment, who was recently drafted second overall to the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). Founded in 2015, by former Northeastern University player, Dani Rylan, the league was the first of its kind to compensate its players. This, in addition to a landmark deal struck between the U.S. Women’s National Team and USA Hockey to secure a large step towards equality, has proved to be an important moment to grow the game.
While it is often rare to see national-team jerseys and professional leagues coming from Canton, New York, the same poise, commitment and skill can certainly be found under the wooden rafters of Appleton Arena. This big-time team in a small town plays their first game on Saturday, September 30 at 3p.m., an exhibition match at home against McGill University.