Women’s hockey prepares for a new season


Phil Carruthers

The women’s hockey team celebrates together after a goal against Boston College Jan. 20. The team’s first regular season game will be against Providence Oct. 1.

Locria Courtright, Assistant Sports Editor

As the calendar nears the end of September, the women’s hockey season draws closer.

The Catamounts are coming off a season in which they finished with a record of 15-14-9, including a victory over Providence College in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

They fell 3-2 in double overtime to eventual Hockey East champions Boston College in the semifinal.

With a number of key players returning– including the team’s three top scorers sophomore forward Eve-Audrey Picard, junior forward Alyssa Gorecki and junior forward Saana Valkama– UVM is hoping to build momentum off last season’s successes.

“We’re trying to push forward from last year,” senior defender Taylor Willard said. “We developed and progressed throughout the season and ended on a good note, and we want to keep that going.”

With the new season comes change. Seven players graduated from last season’s team.

In their place are seven first-years, as well as junior transfer defender Taylor Flaherty.  Flaherty transferred to UVM after the University of North Dakota’s women’s hockey program was cut.

Such change can lead to some early-on chemistry issues as new players try to click with the old, but they seem to have adapted in practice, said head coach Jim Plumer.

“It’s been a remarkably fast transition for the new players,” Plumer said. “Our existing players have done a fantastic job taking those kids under their wing.”

The new players will provide new options for the team, he said.

“The five first-year forwards are all kids with different skill sets than the people we graduated,” Plumer said. “We’re pleased that we may have different line combinations that we can look at over the course of the year.”

In addition to the new players, the team also added two new assistant coaches, Jessica Koizumi and Josh Liegl.

“It’s been relatively seamless in terms of our ability to work and their ability to coach Division I hockey,” Plumer said.

The team will have to replace Hockey East All-Star goaltender Madison Litchfield, who posted a .928 save percentage last season.

There are two returning goalies: junior goaltender Melissa Black, who played in 14 games last year for the Catamounts, and sophomore goaltender Sydney Scobee, who played in three. They’re joined by first-year goaltender Sierra Natzke.

The team’s schedule shapes up to be a challenge. Five of the teams named in U.S. College Hockey Online’s preseason top 10 are on UVM’s schedule, including the reigning national champion Clarkson University.

They could also play a sixth, No. 5 University of Minnesota Duluth, at the Windjammer Classic in November.

Willard says the team relishes the challenges.

“We love playing against those top  teams and being able to really prove ourselves,” Willard said. “Especially being one of the newer teams in the conference with people still seeing us as the underdogs.”

Plumer believes these games give the side an opportunity to measure themselves against the best of the best.

“I think we can compete with these teams and skate with these teams,”  he said.

It is a great opportunity for the Cats to measure themselves against these teams, Plumer said.

UVM will play two preseason games at Gutterson Fieldhouse – Sept. 24 against the Universite de Montreal and Sept. 29 against McGill University. They open the regular season  Oct. 1 with a league game against Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island.