Historic women’s hockey season ends in Hockey East semifinals


Eric Scharf

UVM #6 Evelyne Blais-Savoie and UCONN #20 Claire Peterson jockey for the puck in the first period of the game on March 2.

Matthew Rosenberg, Sports Editor

UVM women’s hockey’s historic season came to an end on March 2 with a 3-1 loss to the University of Connecticut in the Hockey East semifinal.

The loss ends a record-breaking season for the Catamounts. Vermont won the most games in a season in program history, finished in second place in Hockey East for the first time and hosted a Hockey East semifinal for the first time, according to UVM athletics.

“This has been a transformational year for our program,” head coach Jim Plumer said. “The players who played their last games for us have transformed this program and we all simply didn’t want it to end.”

The Catamounts finish the season with a 22-11-3 record and a 18-7-2 record in Hockey East play. Those marks surpass previous program records of 18 wins and 13 conference wins in 2013-14, according to UVM athletics.

UVM earned a spot in the national top 10 rankings for the first time in program history after defeating then-No. 1 Northeastern University on Jan. 28. It was Vermont’s first-ever win over a top-ranked opponent, according to UVM athletics.

In addition to team success, UVM players and coaches earned individual awards. Plumer unanimously won Hockey East’s Coach of the Year award and senior forward Theresa Schafzahl won the Cammi Granato Award as Hockey East’s Player of the Year, according to UVM athletics.

“Seeing what kind of players have won [the award] before, being on that list is incredible,” Schafzahl said. “Shout out to the whole team but especially my linemates Kristina [Shanahan] and Alyssa [Holmes], they make it so easy to play with [them].”

Schafzahl is the first player in program history to earn the award. She is also one of 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award given to the best player in Division I women’s ice hockey. She is the first Catamount to be named a finalist, according to UVM athletics.

“Theresa has had an incredible season and this is another example of the recognition she has earned throughout the NCAA hockey world,” Plumer said. “She has elevated her game and our program to new heights and I’m so happy for her to be the first player from our program to receive this prestigious honor.”

Schafzahl set program records for goals in a season with 25 and points with 46. She is also the first player in program history to lead Hockey East in scoring.

Graduate forward Alyssa Holmes earned recognition as Hockey East’s best defensive forward and senior defender Maude Poulin-Labelle became the first Catamount honored as the league’s Co-Defender of the Year. First-year forward Reagan Miller earned a spot on the All-Rookie team.

Poulin-Labelle shared the award with Northeastern’s Skylar Fontaine. Poulin-Labelle said she was excited to be honored alongside Fontaine.

“I was surprised,” Poulin-Labelle said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve always been looking up to Fontaine. She’s always been two steps ahead of me so getting it with her was awesome. I’ve always looked up to her and always wanted to be as good as her.”

Schafzahl and Poulin-Labelle were First-Team Hockey East All Stars. Shanahan earned Second-Team honors and sophomore goaltender Jessie McPherson was an honorable mention.

“It’s great to be on the All-Star team with some teammates,” Poulin-Labelle said. “It shows how far we’ve come. We worked so hard for it and since freshman year everything has been building up to that.”

Three current UVM players participated in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Sophomore forwards Natálie Mlýnková and Tynka Pátková represented the Czech Republic and senior defender Sini Karjalainen represented Finland.

Karjalainen won a bronze medal with Finland. She is the second player in program history to win an Olympic medal after Amanda Pelkey ‘15 won a gold medal with the U.S. in 2018, according to UVM athletics.

More than 1,500 fans attended the Hockey East semifinal. Plumber hopes the fans were inspired to support the team next season, he said.

“I need to thank the 1,500-plus fans who came out to support us and created an awesome and special atmosphere,” Plumer said. “We will be back next year and I hope that the fans who discovered our team this year will return to the Gut and support us.”