Women’s hockey 2019-20 Preview


Photo credit: Thomas Ognibene

Owen Krepps, Contributor

Last season, RMU women’s hockey completed a three-peat of College Hockey of America (CHA) regular-season championships, as they defeated Syracuse to clinch the title. But in the CHA playoffs, things went the other way, as Syracuse defeated Robert Morris 6-2 and ended the Colonials remarkable year. This season, the Colonials are looking to not just win another regular-season championship, but to get back to the status of the 2017 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

This year, the Colonials are picked to finish second in the CHA based off of the preseason coaches poll. Their number one rival, Mercyhurst, is predicted to finish first by just one more point than RMU. Despite losing major seniors, there is no doubt that this team will have the same expectations that they had last year, if not more.

Maggie LaGue, Lauren Bailey, Amber Rennie, Caitlyn Sadowy, Sarah Quaranta, and Kirsten Welsh are the seniors that the Colonials lost in the offseason. With Welsh and LaGue both gone, and Wasyn Rice currently not playing (possibly due to injury) the defense will certainly look much different immediately. Emilie Harley, a forward, was switched to defense for the exhibition game against Concordia. It is unclear if Harley will stay in the position as well as what the status of Wasyn Rice is. The good thing is that Emily Curlett and a now healthy and alternate captain Sarah Lecavalier will make up the core leadership of the back end.

Offensively, the biggest void left is the right-wing slot on the line of Jaycee Gebhard and Lexi Templeman, as Amber Rennie is gone. Anjelica Diffendal and transfer student Michaela Boyle both spend time on the line, and Boyle was able to find chemistry with Gebhard scoring a goal shorthanded. Marah Wagner, a freshman, also found the back of the net in the exhibition on a line with Courtney Kollman and fellow freshmen Joelle Fiala.

Lauren Bailey also marks a big loss as Bailey was the primary starter last season for the Colonials. The coaching staff is likely looking toward Arielle DeSmet as the new starter over Molly Singewald and freshmen Raygan Kirk. But when asked about who the starter would be, head coach Paul Colontino had the following to say; “It was nice to see all three goalies, but we will work through the week to see who gets the start and like every year they know that you are as good as your last shift.”

Six freshmen and one transfer joined the Colonials roster for the upcoming season. These names are Raygan Kirk, Allyson Hebert, Maggy Burbidge, Marah Wagner, Joelle Fiala, and Anna Fairman, with Michaela Boyle as the transfer from Clarkson University. These players have already stood out as Wagner scored a goal, and Boyle scored two goals in the exhibition with Concordia, but with one being disallowed.

Already, these players have been called upon to fill in big roles on the team. Allyson Hebert was paired up with Emily Curlett on the first pairing earning a bunch of playing time. Joelle Fiala and Marah Wagner managed to crack the top 6 forward group, and Raygan Clark saw action in the third period in net. Granted this was an exhibition game, we don’t quite know what strategies Paul Colontino and the coaching staff have up their sleeves, and these line combinations should be taken with a grain of salt.

It is impossible to preview this team without bringing up the new captain and now senior, Jaycee Gebhard. Gebhard is the team’s captain with Sarah Lecavalier, Lexi Templeman as alternates and it isn’t hard to see why. Gebhard won the CHA scoring title last year with 19 goals, 32 assists, and 51 points. This was the most points by a junior in Colonial history as Gebhard beat Brittney Howard’s record of 50 points as a junior. Gebhard is also chasing Howard in most points all-time for RMU as she currently sits with 135 points behind Howard’s 181.

“The biggest thing that I do as a leader is just lead by example on the ice. Just winning battles and doing everything that I can. My personal goal is to just beat what I did last year. ”

Depth is going to be crucial in how far this team goes. Gebhard and Templeman are fully capable of doing it all offensively for this team, but they shouldn’t have to. This is a great mix of a team with veterans like Gebhard, Templeman and Curlett and also skilled underclassmen such as Boyle, DeSmet and Wagner. It all depends on how far this team can push themselves and how far they want to go. Another regular-season title, as well as a trip to the NCAA Tournament, is not out of the question as this team has the talent and teamwork to do so.

The Colonials will start regular-season non-conference play this Friday against Union at home. Puck drop will be at 7:05 pm on Neville Island.