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Winning record within reach
Heading into his sixth season as the Quinnipiac University women’s ice hockey coach, Michael Barrett has been a major factor in the progress of his program. Barrett has seen his team make the jump to the ECAC where they play against some of the best teams in the United States.
He’s seen the team move from its old home at the Northford Pavilion to the beautiful TD Banknorth Sports Center. And last year, he saw a team that was so close to making the ECAC playoffs in only its second year in the league.
“We thought last year that we were this close to getting over the hump,” Barrett said as he brought his thumb within a few centimeters of his index finger. “We lost a lot of one goal games and if you win half of those it may convert to a winning record. But we didn’t so we felt we were really close and we think that this team is the one that is going to get us over that.”
So far through the first weekend of action, the Bobcats look as if they are ready to make that jump to the next level.
On Oct. 12, the Bobcats defeated Hockey East opponent Northeastern 4-3 and the next night loss 4-2 to Boston College, who participated in the Frozen Four last season.
“Last year that team (Boston College) beat us 6-1 and pretty much dominated the whole game,” Barrett said. “They basically have the same team back and they made it to the Frozen Four last season.”
Barrett pointed to the fact that his team outshot Boston College in both the first and third period.
This year’s Bobcats will receive a lift as senior Vicky Graham will return to the line-up after being red shirted last season. During the 2005-06 campaign, Graham led the team with 14 goals and 24 points accumulated. Graham was also the team’s most valuable player during her freshman and junior seasons.
Barrett said that Graham may be in store for a big season.
“She came back with more focus and that much more mature and it has translated onto the ice,” Barrett said. “She is probably looking at having her best year ever.”
The Bobcats will rely on their junior class, which is heading into their third season of playing in the ECAC. Junior Trudy Reyns will serve as the team captain for this season’s campaign.
Serving as assistant captains will be senior Karrah Stephen, and juniors Antoinette Maldonado and Kristin Emerick. Barrett says the juniors have done the brunt of the scoring the past two years, and now they must step into leadership roles.
“They’re not the younger group anymore, now they are the leaders on the team,” Barrett said.
As for the freshmen, Barrett said their impact has been felt by the team immediately.
“The biggest impact has been their work ethic and their attitude,” Barrett said. “They show up to work everyday, geared up ready to go.”
This year’s recruiting class brought in three new Bobcat goaltenders. Through the first two games, freshman Jamie Miller has been the Bobcats’ starter. In her first ever collegiate start, Miller made 29 saves and earned the win over Northeastern.
The freshmen have not been the only new faces around the Quinnipiac locker room. This off-season, the Bobcats hired Matt Kelly to be one of their new assistant coaches. Kelly was a goaltender at Wayne State University in Detroit. Last year Kelly was a volunteer assistant for both the men’s and women’s teams at Wayne State. Barrett said that Kelly had a positive impact on the team right from the beginning.
“He’s very passionate,” Barrett said. “He’s got great drills and he brings a lot of intensity.”
One area that Barrett would like to see his team improve upon this season is their play in the second period. Barrett eluded to the fact that last year on many occasions the Bobcats were outscored and outplayed in the second period. The trend has continued so far this season as well. In this year’s first two games, Quinnipiac has been outscored 5-2 in the second period. Barrett believes that better second period play will translate into more wins.
“That’s something we need to change immediately,” Barrett said. “We can’t let it go past those two games. We need to put together 60 or 65 full minutes.”
With the new season just getting under way, the Bobcats are staying focused on the task at hand. Barrett believes this team is capable of a winning record and playing in the ECAC playoffs when March rolls around.
“If we can stay healthy enough with the way practices are going and the way we performed over the weekend, I think it is very realistic that we do that (finish with a winning record),” Barrett said.