The women’s hockey team opened its regular season this past weekend with a pair of matchups against the University of Connecticut. The Dutchwomen played Concordia University in a 2-1 exhibition loss back on September 24, but the matchups with UCONN marked the first of the games that count on Union’s schedule.
The two contests also marked the debut of new Women’s Hockey coach Josh Sciba, who replaced Claudia Asano Barcomb. Barcomb went just 36-236-32 (.171%) in her nine years behind the bench. Sciba faces a long road ahead, as he inherits a program with the longest winless streak in Division I hockey history at 51. The streak dates back to December 2014.
If that wasn’t enough, the Dutchwomen also lost perhaps their lone bright spot from last year’s team in the form of goaltender Melissa Black, who amassed 1,111 saves (.931%) in her lone season with the Dutchwomen, good for second in school history. Black transferred to the University of Vermont this past summer.
Despite all of that, the Dutchwomen competed hard in their first two games of the season, and despite losing both contests, showed significant signs of improvement. Although the score of Friday’s 5-1 loss may not seem like much to gloat about, the goals do not tell the whole story.
A team that was routinely dominated in puck possession last season, the Dutchwomen were able to muster 22 shots on net to UCONN’s 30 on Friday night, a respectable margin at the very least.
Theresa Knutson of the Huskies scored twice to lead the UCONN offense. Down big late, Sciba called a timeout to regroup his squad.
After winning the faceoff, the Dutchwomen swung the puck around the boards before finally finding the tape of Caitlyn Mclaren’s ’18 stick, who beat the Huskie netminder to collect Union’s first goal of the season. Alli Devins ’17 and Haley Shugart ’20 tallied assists on the score, Union’s only of the night.
The Dutchwomen returned to action Saturday afternoon, and came oh so close to ending their record-setting winless streak.
Union got off to a fast start when Bridgit Sullivan ’20 put one off the pads of the UCONN goalie and Rachel de Perio ’20 put the rebound in the back of the net, giving the Dutchwomen an early 1-0 lead. It was the first collegiate point for both de Perio and Sullivan; Emily Erickson ’17 also picked up an assist on the tally.
Union held the lead well into the 2nd period before Justine Fredette netted the equalizer for the Huskies. Kayla Mee then gave UCONN the lead once and for all with a powerplay goal just 1:20 into the 3rd period.
Union again put up a good fight, and kept the shots on net close at 28-24 in favor of UCONN. Kate Spooner ’20 stopped 26 of 28 shots in net for the Dutchwomen.
The team will return to action three times this week, all at home. A Tuesday-night tilt on October 4 with the University of Vermont will be followed by a pair of matchups with Penn State on Friday and Saturday, October 7 and 8.