Bothwell’s new blood renovates women’s hockey

With a combined six wins over the past two seasons, the UVM women’s hockey team has never exactly been a threat to any of their Hockey East opponents.Since the program’s inception in the 1995-1996 season, the Catamounts have not been the vision of ice hockey success – a fact that is changing fast.Thus far in the season, the Cats stand at 4-7-1 – not an exceptionally impressive record – yet one that inspires hope for the future of the program. Following the first four games of the season, all of which were wins, the Catamounts have already eclipsed their win total of last year. The turnaround began on June 5, 2006 when the Catamounts named coaching veteran Tim Bothwell as head coach of the women’s hockey program.In choosing Bothwell, the Cats brought in a proven winner. Prior to joining the University of Vermont, Bothwell was an assistant coach for the Olympic gold medal-winning Canadian women’s hockey team in 2006. Additionally, Bothwell was a member of the NHL for many seasons, as both a player and an assistant coach.Although last season was not a successful season for the Cats, as they finished 3-27-2 with only one win in Hockey East play, the change in the program became evident.Even in losing, the Catamounts have skated tough with every powerhouse team they faced this season.The Catamounts took Dartmouth in to overtime on the Big Green’s home ice and gave Hockey East foe Boston College a scare inside Gutter?son Fieldhouse. Men’s hockey is still the fan favorite here at UVM, but as the women’s games become more exciting, fans are taking notice of the Lady Cats as well. Through four games this season, the women filled an average of 436 seats, which is almost double than last sea?son’s meager 250 per game.What the women have shown the Gutterson faithful this season has been atypical of past performances, with their home record standing at 4-2-1 following a tie at home with Maine.In his second year in the system, Bothwell’s players have grown used to his coaching style and he has been able to use his experience to drastically improve the program.Aside from Bothwell’s hand in the improved play from returning Catamounts, he has also made some beneficial additions to the team by recruiting several standout freshmen for the 2007-2008 campaign. The Cats continue to rally behind senior captain Kate Lesniak, who has a team-high nine points on the season. The headliners of Bothwell’s recruiting class, forwards Teddy Fortin and Molly Morrison as well as defender Saleah Morrison are all tied for second on the team with six points each. Other freshmen who have made an impact this year are forwards Celeste Doucet and Jul Sifers, who have four points each.Defenders Peggy Wakeham, Bryanna Verley and Hannah Westbrook round out the big contributors in the freshman class, which will be making big plays for the Catamounts for years to come.It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Cats will make in the Hockey East this season, but with Bothwell holding the reins, this team on the rise is poised to become a powerful opponent.