Panthers looking for respect in ECAC East
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The puck drops on the 2012-13 Plymouth State University women's ice hockey season this weekend when the Panthers host a pair of Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Women's East games at Hanaway Rink.
The Panthers will host Norwich University Friday, Nov. 9, at 6:00 p.m. in the opener, followed by a 2:00 p.m. face-off on Saturday, Nov. 10, against Saint Michael's College. Norwich has played in two straight NCAA Division III national championship games, winning the title in 2011 and falling to RIT last winter, while Saint Michael's finished just one point ahead of Plymouth State in last year's standings.
|Head Coach Ashley Kilstein|
PSU plays nine of its 25 games before the holiday break, with the only other home game a Dec. 8 affair against Franklin Pierce University. The second semester slate begins the first week in January with PSU competing in the Codfish Bowl Tournament at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Plymouth State has seven more home games in January and February at Hanaway Rink, now in its third season as the home of the Panthers.
The top eight teams in the ECAC East will advance to the conference tournament beginning the last Saturday in February, with the champion being crowned the first weekend in March and receiving an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2012-13 PSU Women's Ice Hockey Outlook
The Panthers made progress last year under first-year head coach Ashley Kilstein, but fell short of their goal of making the ECAC East playoffs. Now in her second season, Kilstein welcomes back 16 veterans along with a strong group of newcomers to this year's team and says the pieces are coming together and that making the post-season this year is within reach.
"We have high expectations for our team," said Kilstein. "We're pushing forward. The work ethic has been great and the camaraderie… they've transformed into a team. The communication has been outstanding, and it shows on the ice."
Kilstein says the speed on this year's team is greatly improved over last year, and the skill level continues to improve. She says the depth has grown into one of the team's biggest assets, along with a natural hockey sense.
"I've seen what they're capable of," said Kilstein. "All of the returners came back in great shape and they're pushing the others. We're getting better in every stage of the game but we still have a long way to go. We have to keep working and believe in what we're doing and in each other."
Sophomore Kelsey Cosby (Walpole, Mass.) led the team in scoring last year and should be a big part of this year's offense. Junior Jamie O'Brien (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Kate Banys (Newburyport, Mass.) are other returnees who have been skating well in preseason and should see plenty of ice time. Top offensive newcomers include freshmen Alysha Raimo (Fitchburg, Mass.), Marissa Zamrock (Lewiston, Maine) and Olivia Leon (Natick, Mass.).
"We're confident in our top players," said Kilstein. "They have genuine hockey ability and they're becoming more of a leader every day, but I have the utmost confidence in all four lines."
Other veterans who will see action on the Panther offense include a group of juniors who have gained a lot of valuable ice time over the past two years, including Allison Collins (Murrieta, Calif.), Meghan Cassidy (Somerville, N.J.), Kelsey Maguire (Swampscott, Mass.), Katie Landry (Agawam, Mass.), Ali Myers (Seattle, Wash.) and Jane Baruch (Coventry, R.I.)
The defensive unit is led by four returnees who should shoulder the load … senior Montana Heinlein (St. Albans, Vt.) and juniors Tasha Wyatt (Minturn, Colo.), Carrie Baruch (Coventry, R.I.) and Stephanie Newmark (Sydney, Australia/Reading, Mass.). Freshman Lauren Deguire (Blackstone, Mass.) looks like the top newcomer along the blue line.
"There's still a learning curve with them," said Kilstein. "There are times we just need to settle down. The leaders are starting to step up and keep things calm."
Junior Ali Ponte (Richmond Hill, Ontario) has been the primary starting goalie the past two seasons, and is working hard to keep her job. Kilstein says freshman Jennifer Wisniewski (North Ridgeville, Ohio) and sophomore Nicole Crandle (Bristol, Conn.) will also see playing time and that all three are capable of handling the job.
"Where we finish isn't as important as how much we get better," said Kilstein. "This is a close team because of the obstacles they've faced in the past, and that will help us as we continue to improve. We're sound in our systems, and we're looking forward to showing what we can do."
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