A look ahead to the new year for the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team

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A look ahead to the new year for the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team

Phil Akre

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Photo courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Phil Akre

Quinnipiac’s women’s ice hockey team hasn’t competed since Dec. 3 when it finished up the first half of its season with a win over Rensselaer, capping off a three-game win streak. Friday, Dec. 30, though, the Bobcats will return to the friendly confines of High Point Solutions Arena when they face Penn State University. As the team begins the second half of its season, there are a few things to look out for.

First-half recap

The Bobcats’ record of 13-4-3 is good enough for third place in the ECAC and a No. 8 ranking in the latest USCHO.com poll.

Quinnipiac averaged 2.8 goals per game at the end of the first half of the season. Junior forward T.T. Cianfarano, reigning ECAC Player of the Year, led the team in scoring with 11 goals and 18 points. Senior captain Emma Woods was quiet for most of the first half but ended up with eight goals, second most on the team. Her first half success was highlighted by a four-goal outburst in a series with Rensselaer.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came from sophomore Kenzie Lancaster, who also has eight goals thus far. After a quiet freshman year, Lancaster has become one of the Bobcats strongest offensive weapons.

Who needs to step up?

Abby Cleary

The freshman forward came into the program with big expectations and so far has failed to live up to them. To date, Cleary hasn’t registered a single point or goal the entire season and has seen a drastic decrease in her playing time. She came to Quinnipiac from powerhouse institution Shattuck-St.Mary’s, so to say her lack of production is surprising is an understatement.

Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout

After missing the first 12 games of the season due to NCAA rules, the Quebec native had little difficulty in adjusting to the speed of college hockey. While she has looked fantastic on the ice, fluid with the puck, she has yet to translate it into goals. Her 28 shots on goal have resulted in just one point for the team. She needs to work on finding the holes, or else her offensive ability could be held back for the rest of the year.

Who will be the breakout player of the second half?

The easy answer to this question would have been Sarah-Eve Coutu Godbout had she not injured her hand before Quinnipiac’s 27-day hiatus. With that being said, Kenzie Prater seems like the most logical candidate. The Wisconsin native has emerged as a go-to scoring option for the Bobcats, as she is top-five on the team in goals and points. She tallied three goals in the last six games of the first half, so perhaps her strong ending in 2016 will continue into the new year.

Second half predictions

Quinnipiac has done what it is supposed to do; beat the bad teams, and compete with the elite ones. The team holds a 7-2-1 record in conference, with its only two losses coming from the two teams above them, St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

In the second half of the season, the Bobcats will have a chance to prove that they can hang with the best of the ECAC when they face the Saints and Golden Knights in early February. While it won’t be easy to win on the road against these powerhouses, it’s reasonable to think that they can defeat St. Lawrence, as Quinnipiac lost to them by just one goal in Nov.

As for the rest of the Bobcats schedule, eight of the teams that Quinnipiac will face are owners of sub-.500 records. The Bobcats should make it out fairly easy against these teams and go 11-3 in the second half, with losses against Clarkson, Princeton, and an upset from a sub-.500 team. If this is the case, the team will finish 24-7-3 and find itself in good post-season position.