Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey 2016-2017 season preview

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Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey 2016-2017 season preview

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Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Matt McAuliffe

Last year Cassandra Turner, in her first year as head coach of the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team, made history. She led her team to both an ECAC regular season and tournament championship. Her success was enough for her to be offered a contract extension through the 2020-21 season.

The decision was an easy one.

“It wasn’t hard, this is a remarkable place. I have never wanted to leave Quinnipiac, so I was incredibly pleased and excited and really thankful for the opportunity to be able to stay here.”

Last year Turner led her squad to a program high 30 wins, and coached her team to program records in goals, assists, goals against average, and penalty kills. The expectations are high for this team and she has a solid recipe for success.

“It is based on our foundation, on our culture, our group takes a lot of pride in what that is,” Turner said. “In any season there are going to be ups and there are going to be downs and it is a question of who are you in those moments.”

Any team that has high expectations needs good leadership in order to stay on track and focus on their goals. Turner strongly believes that the veterans of this team will be a huge part of her team’s success.

“We have a group of seven seniors that every single one of them was a captain on their team before they came to Quinnipiac, and we are really excited for them to take on bigger roles specifically.”

Senior Emma Woods has been named captain for the 2016-2017 season. She was voted into that role unanimously by her coaches and teammates.

“I think about who she was as a freshman to who she is today, and she is someone that everyone looks to and she is ready for big moments,” Turner said.

Woods accepts her new responsibilities proudly.

“Knowing that I’ve never reached my limit, and knowing that every day I can learn from someone is what I focus on. I feel comfortable knowing that they are all here, but it’s one of those things where I don’t want to get comfortable, I always feel like there is something I can get better at as a captain of this team.”

Not only are her leadership skills in tact, she is a force and a key player on the ice for the Bobcats. Woods won a team high 335 faceoffs, and had a career high plus/minus of 40 in the 2015-2016 season.

“I take a lot of pride in my faceoffs, our team does, that is really hard for another team to play against, knowing that we have 10 different faceoffs that we could use,” Woods said. “My plus minus is not just me, that’s a full defensive and offensive team stat, my line mates, defensive men, goalie even, having confidence in that is important.”

The women’s ice hockey team graduated six seniors last spring, but Woods is not afraid of the challenges and is impressed with the new chemistry of the team.

“Everyone that was here last year knows what it takes, you can’t approach any team thinking that it is going to be easy. Playing our best hockey and getting better every week, every practice, and every game, and never being satisfied is what drives our team every day.”

The Captain also expressed the importance of teaching the freshman the commitment and mindset that it takes to be successful at the collegiate level. The freshmen Woods speaks of are Kati Tabin, Allison Roethke, Abby Cleary, Kenzie Prater, and Abbie Ives.

Turner says that one freshman in particular who has caught her eye already is Prater. Prater, from Hudson, Wisconsin, has won a gold medal for the U-18 National team, and two consecutive Minnesota state championships at Hill-Murray high school.

“She’s a very talented young woman and she works really hard, and I think she will make an immediate impact for us right away,” Turner said.

When it comes to returners who will also be sure to make an impact this season, sophomore forward Melissa Samoskevich and junior forward Taylar Cianfarano immediately come to mind.

Samoskevich is a forward that provides a stellar offensive spark. Last season she was named to the ECAC hockey All- Rookie team, scored 16 goals, and according to Turner, “is ready for even more.”

Cianfarano is a forward that is looking to continue her offensive success, as well. She scored a team high 52 points last year, was named ECAC hockey Player of the Year, and ECAC hockey Forward of the Year.

But when talking about the ECAC elite, Clarkson is bound to come up in conversation. When Quinnipiac faced Clarkson last season, it had a record of 2-1-1. The loss came in the NCAA tournament, and crushed the dreams of a Frozen Four appearance for the Bobcats. These two teams have formed a rivalry that will be nothing less than a showdown this season.

With undeniable confidence in the leadership positions and returning power for the offense, the 2016-2017 Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team is back to repeat as a dominant force in the ECAC, and the country.

Quinnipiac begins its regular season in Hamden on Friday, September 30, at 6 p.m. against Maine.