Last Saturday, the women’s hockey team (4-0-1, NESCAC 1-0-1) broke Saint Anselm’s 23-game winning streak with a comeback in the third quarter to win 3-2. The team then continued to dominate with its first shutout of the season, beating University of Southern Maine 3-0 in Tuesday’s midweek match up.
Before losing to Bowdoin, Saint Anselm, a Division II team, had the longest winning record in college hockey, having won its past 23 games, including the nine games ithave played this season.
“It was a huge win for us personally and projected out for other teams to see. It definitely earned us a lot of respect,” said captain Jill Rathke ’18.
Head Coach Marissa O’Neil agreed, noting the team’s strong technical play.
“We started off slow against [Saint Anselm], [but] we capitalized on some power play opportunities that we got,” said O’Neil. “We just tried to shorten the game, and we were able to do so. We created an opportunity and got a good bounce. You always make your own bounces and create your own luck I believe. We certainly did that.”
In both the Saint Anselm game and the previous game against University of Massachusetts Boston, the team made dramatic third quarter comebacks. However, according to O’Neil, these comebacks do not necessarily reflect the games as a whole. In the game against U-Mass Boston, which the Polar Bears won 2-1, Bowdoin had a 34-15 advantage in shots on goal.
“We played the entire game if you look at the shots. We were consistent from the first to third,” said O’Neil.
Despite the strong record, the beginning of the year comes with challenges. A quarter of the team this year consists of first years, but they are proving themselves and getting good skate time.
“The freshmen have fit well in the game, which has been great,” said Rathke. “Everyone is really excited about starting, so there has been a lot of good energy, good excitement from that.”
The Polar Bears now have non-conference games ahead to close out the month, which gives them time to build up team chemistry and work on skills. For future games, O’Neil said the team needs to maintain its consistency and work on higher execution rate.
“We scored two or three goals in most games, but we have a lot more chances,” said O’Neil. “It’s a long season, we are only a handful of games in. Our consistency hasn’t been tested yet.”
Rathke also the importance of dictating play and avoiding penalties.
“We need to enter each game and dictate for ourselves … Especially when teams get more physical, I personally am getting a lot of penalties, so I think making sure to play cleanly and be able to stay aggressive when the others are aggressive too,” she said. “Penalties really break up the flow of the game.”
Due to the stresses of reading period and finals, the team is currently not training. The Polar Bears return to campus on December 30 for training, a full three weeks before other students will return. Both O’Neil and Rathke agree that these three weeks are great for concentrating on hockey.
“It is one of the most fun times throughout the year because you can enjoy Bowdoin without all the school work. I am excited for that. I am excited to have time to focus solely on hockey and spend time with my teammates,” said Rathke.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, the team’s early success has helped it gain confidence.
“Right now where we are in general, there is a lot to be confident about. A lot of that [confidence] also has to come from within,” O’Neil said. “[It doesn’t] always come from the wins and lost record, but it doesn’t hurt if we have good record, and we have been a good team so far.”
Tomorrow, the team will face off against Johnson and Wales at home at 1 p.m.