Photo courtesy: cuse.com
Syracuse University's Women's Hockey Team is looking to make a strong start to the season despite its youth. The Orange will take on Colgate this Thursday at 7 p.m. at Tennity Ice Pavilion with only eight returning veterans.
Seven incoming freshman and eight sophomores make up the rest of the team forcing the returning veterans and underclassmen to find that team chemistry since practices started two weeks ago.
"We're trying to do team bonding to get the girls to know each other and we stay on the ice a little bit longer after practice to get those little touches in that we need to adjust by game day," said senior captain Julie Knerr
Knerr said the freshmen are still getting the systems down and will have to adjust to the faster pace of college games. "They're quick, they good players, good skills," Knerr said.
One freshman she said to look out for is Stephanie Grossi from Shaftesbury Prep in Winnipeg. Grossi is a forward who holds the record for most points and assists with the Shaftesbury Prep team.
Head coach Paul Flanagan said he's relying on his core group of veterans to lead the team and help the younger players out. He said although the freshman have yet to play a shift he can already see the team chemistry developing among them and there's a good balance between the upperclassmen and underclassmen.
Flanagan has four experienced players on defense in juniors Nicole Renault and Danielle Leslie senior Knerr and redshirt senior Akane Hosoyamada.
One thing that hasn't been decided yet is who will be the starting goalie. Flanagan has three to choose from, senior Amanda Cariddi, junior Jenn Gilligan, a transfer from New Hampshire who was with SU for the last three weeks of the 2013-2014 season, and freshman Abbey Miller. Flanagan said he probably won't make that decision until Thursday morning.
"Right now, short term goals is to try and get ready for Thursday and ready to compete Thursday night against a team that's already played a game," Flanagan said. "It's tough until you play a game to really see what people can do."
Syracuse and Colgate met twice last season with Syracuse winning 2-1 and 2-0.
Syracuse ended the 2013-2014 season with a a 20-14-3 record and a 9-8-3 in the College Hockey America (CHA) conference and are picked to finish fourth out of six teams this season. Other teams in the conference are Penn State, Mercyhurst, Robert Morris, Lindenwood and RIT. Syracuse will take on Boston College in a non-conference game in Boston on Saturday at 2 p.m.