In the fourth season of the women’s ice hockey club the team joined a newer, stronger conference. The team started playing in the Northeast Women’s Collegiate Hockey Association — an inaugural league that features seven teams including strong hockey schools such as Clarkson University and Syracuse University.
UR started their season 0-6, but with three games remaining, the team turned their season around. The squad amassed their first win when they played William Smith College on Feb. 8. The team came away with their second win in the last game of their regular season, when they defeated SUNY Brockport 5-4 on Feb. 14.
This game showed the growing heart and fight of the women’s team. With under eight minutes remaining UR trailed Brockport 4-3, but the team fought back and scored two unanswered goals to pull ahead 5-4. UR was able to hold off Brockport at the end of the game, providing a great end-of-season inspirational lift.
UR carried this emotion into the inaugural NEWCHA post-season tournament, where they were slated to meet regular season rival, Brockport. UR split their contests with Brockport in regular season and the two teams tied in their pre-season scrimmage, so the game was expected to be close.
This past Friday at ESL Arena, UR eliminated Brockport from the NEWCHA Championships with a 3-2 victory. Graduate student defenseman Kate Donhauser scored two goals — one unassisted and one assisted by senior forward Kate Rae. Senior forward Heidi Jensen scored the other goal off an assist from senior Nicole Ketterer.
“Overall, the level of intensity this weekend was beyond anything we’ve seen all season,” sophomore forward Niki Reitz said. Though UR lost their next two games they stepped up to the challenge of the tournament and played their best hockey of the season in their closing games. On Saturday, UR lost to eventual tournament champion, North County Community College, by a score of 4-0. Then in Sunday’s third place game, UR lost a tough contest 6-2 to Syracuse.
Other than their improved play, UR’s weekend was highlighted by Donhauser being named as a Tournament All-Star. Donhauser scored four out of the five goals that UR tallied throughout the tournament.The end of their season proved to the team and the league that UR can truly be competitive within the NEWCHA. Their late successes can be attributed to the heightened frequency and intensity of practice. The women are excited about the continual growth of the sport at UR. “We are really trying to improve our program through recruiting and increased awareness of the sport on campus,” Reitz said.
The team is led by second-year head coach Dave Maksymiu and a core of young players. Maksymiu has increased practice to three times a week in order to build better cohesiveness within the team. This season, Maksymiu and his players have taken the program past the recreation level, and are at a point where they are a truly competitive team.
Fitzsimmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.