The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team return to the ice this weekend, and are eager to prove that this year’s team can be just as dangerous as its previous national championship-winning squads.
The three-time reigning champs will hit the road for its first game of the regular season against Williams Smith College looking to continue where they left off last season, with a victory. Head coach Kevin Houle said every year is different and he’ll be interested to see where the team is at after the game.
“As a coach, you got to figure out what kind of team you have,” Houle said. We have a number of key players returning but we also have new players that need to fill some big roles and underclassmen that have to step up.”
The chemistry of the team will also be important as the Cards lost four seniors, who were key contributors to last year’s team.
“Those were four of our top players— two forwards and two defensemen,” Houle said. “They were a big part of our success the last three years, so there are bigger roles to fill in than people realize.”
Despite this the Cards will have four All-Americans returning, a group of players with a lot of talent and the familiarity of having played together before.
The team and coaching staff feel that as the season goes on the chemistry of the team will improve.
“The chemistry isn’t there yet, maybe it was last year at this point,” Houle said. “I think the first couple games of the season is when we figure those kind of things out.”
Houle believes things will be a lot more intense this weekend as the team is on the road facing an improved team.
“We just want to concentrate on coming together as a team, competing every day and improving day- to-day,” Houle said. We’re not going to change a whole lot of things but we’ll see where the season takes us.”
Senior forward Jordan Lipson said even though the team is different, the goals at the end of the season remain the same.
“We have to fine tune everything,” Lipson said. “Going into the weekend we’re hoping to come out with two wins.”
Lipson knows there will be an adjustment period, but she believes they will come into their own by the end of the season.
“Being in practice and in-game situations will help us,” Lipson said. “Coach always tells us, ‘play the way we know how to play’ and play Plattsburgh hockey.”
The Cards understand more than ever there is a target on their back having won three consecutive national championships.
“We’ve made a name for ourselves as a successful program,” sophomore forward Courtney Moriarty said. “We know we’re a lot of team’s biggest games and we thrive in that kind of competition, it excites us.”
Moriarty said every team in the conference steps it up each year, so each game they have to go in with the same mindset.
“Each team wants to beat us, so we have to keep that mind,” she said.
Houle said that this year’s team has a lot of similarities in talent to previous teams.
“We’ve been practicing against each other a lot so going into the beginning of the season is pretty exciting for our group,” Houle said. “You don’t really know what to expect from the team really until you start getting into games. After this weekend we’ll know a lot more about ourselves.”
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