After finishing with the program’s worst-ever record of 3-19-2 (2-13-1 NESCAC), making them the only team to miss out on the NESCAC tournament last winter, the Bowdoin women’s varsity ice hockey team has made strides to correct last year’s faults and return to the NESCAC playoffs. Currently, the team sits at sixth place in the league at 5-6-3 (3-4-1 NESCAC) with 10 games left to play.
Last year, the Polar Bears struggled to find the back of the net, averaging only 1.33 goals per game. Coming into this season, the team knew it would face challenges, both statistically and mentally.
Currently leading the team in points, Angelina Joyce ’22 has averaged just under one point per game, and the Polar Bears have scored more points in their first 14 games than they scored all of last season.
“This season, we’re doing a different system,” said Joyce. “We’re trying a bunch of new things.”
The changes include switching up lines and allowing the defense to get more involved in the offensive zone, which Joyce suggests is what has contributed to her success this season.
“I don’t personally think it’s [solely] my contribution that has led to my points on the season,” said Joyce. “So far, I think that has come from my teammates and especially our new system, allowing for more flexibility and more defensemen to be scoring.”
Along with the new system, the addition of eight new first years—nearly a third of the team—has contributed to the increase in offensive output.
“One of our first years, [Peyton Mulhern ’23,] had two goals in our first game,” said Joyce. “Everyone is working together really successfully this season which has, I think, led to everyone having more points.”
The Polar Bears have also seen a large improvement in their mental fortitude, driven by the urge to redeem themselves after last season’s performance.
“Speaking to those who were a part of [last season’s campaign,] the revenge of getting back to what the program is capable of [has been a major factor in this season’s improvement],” said starting goalie Dani Marquez ’22. “Obviously, it was hard to go through last year, but I think that it gave us a lot of mental toughness and prepared us with what we need to build on [last season.]”
Even when they have struggled in-game, the players have held each other accountable and created a stronger atmosphere than last year.
“We have the heart and we have the hard work. We didn’t have that last year,” said Joyce. “This year, we’ve lost games and we’ve had games where we have not performed to our greatest potential, but we’re getting so much better at recognizing that. We always say ‘be better’ because we know we can be better, and we know that we are better.”
The underdog status has also contributed to the Polar Bears’ success—after last season’s catastrophic campaign, many teams consider Bowdoin a sure win.
“Some teams don’t expect much out of us,” said Marquez. “But we go into the weekends giving all we have, all the time, and I think that the underdog mentality has strengthened us.”
“We deserve to win,” Joyce said. “We’re playing to win rather than playing to not lose, which is something that is definitely important and a big mindset change.”
Looking forward, the team has one goal in mind: to continue improving and make the NESCAC playoffs.
“We want to be making playoffs every year,” said Joyce. “I think that that’s one thing that we set in our mind at the beginning, especially with last year being one of the first years in a while that we hadn’t made playoffs.”
“We’ve all been [getting better] as the season has gone on, which has been great to see,” said Marquez. “But we are hungry to improve on the foundation that we’ve built as we go into more NESCAC play.”
Fueled by that passion, the Polar Bears will face Williams, currently in third place in the conference, tonight in Williamstown at 7 p.m. in the first game of a weekend doubleheader.