No bull about it…
…these girls can play.
When you think of first-year programs, you normally think of sub-par records for a few seasons while the players get their feet wet and experience playing collegiate hockey, right? Well, Adrian College, located a little over an hour away from Detroit in southern Michigan, is proving that theory wrong this season.
The Adrian Bulldogs are 5-1 so far in this young season with their biggest win coming on the road against borderline nationally ranked Neumann. The Bulldogs have relied on balanced scoring and team depth as all but one player who has played in more than one game this season has scored at least a point.
â€œThe biggest keys to our success this season have been the ability to roll four lines all game long and know that each player will be competing every shift,â€ said Adrian head coach Chandy Kaip. â€œAlso, we have shown great discipline and accountability in our defensive zone which has kept us in a lot of games and given our offense a chance to win games.â€
Adrianâ€™s lone loss this season came at the hands of Neumann in a 3-2 decision. However, the very next night, Adrian got their revenge and their biggest win in program history by defeating the Knights 3-2.
â€œBeating Neumann was a bit of a surprise,â€ Kaip said. â€œEverything came together for us that day. We came in focused and I was very pleased with splitting a road series against a team as good as Neumann.â€
Being a brand new program, Coach Kaip had the fortunate situation last year of only having to recruit players and put together the schedule for this season. However, unlike other coaches, Kaip had to recruit a full roster rather than just a handful of players to fill holes in the returning team. With a strong recruiting pitch and many opportunities other schools couldnâ€™t offer, Kaip is now reaping the benefits of her hard work last year.
â€œMichigan is a state with a deep hockey tradition and a lot of female talent,â€ Kaip said. â€œWe pitched our status as a brand new program with a brand new rink and the opportunity to come in and compete right away. I told girls they had the opportunity to be the first woman in Adrian College hockey history to score a goal.â€
Whether it was Adrianâ€™s location or Kaipâ€™s recruiting pitch, all that matters is it worked. Adrianâ€™s roster consists of 23 freshmen and three sophomore transfers. There are 11 players each from Michigan and Canada, two from Ohio, and one each from West Virginia, Louisiana, and Virginia.
The three transfers have almost been forced into leadership positions on Adrianâ€™s young team. However, Kaip commended them on a job well done so far this season.
â€œRachel Walters (Ohio State) and Nicole Zynda (Robert Morris) have stepped up and been awesome this year as our captains and leaders for this young team,â€ Kaip said. â€œThey lead the team on and off the ice, in practices and in the classroom.â€
This is Kaipâ€™s first head coaching job, but she has already had many unforgettable memories.
â€œFrom having the Stanley Cup at our first game at Arrington Ice Arena to Stacey Kempson scoring the first goal in program history, it has been a great ride,â€ Kaip said. â€œWhen the train horn went off for Kempsonâ€™s goal all I could do was sit back and think, Wowâ€¦Everything has come together and the season has finally started. It was a wake up call and an experience Iâ€™ll never forget.â€
The Bulldogs offense has been fairly consistent over their first six games and has been a big reason why Adrian is off their solid start. Stacey Kempson leads the way with 5 goals and 5 assists on the season. Keegan Castrillo is tied with Kempson for the team lead in goals with five as well. Rounding out the top 5 scorers for the Bulldogs are Jodi Meyers (2-3-5), Tracy McKay (0-4-4), and Rachel Walters (0-4-4).
Jessica Grubbs has been the clutch goal scorer for Adrian as she has three goals on the season, including two game winners on the power play, as well as the GWG against Neumann.
Over the next three seasons Kaip is hoping Adrian will become synonymous with a powerhouse womenâ€™s hockey program.
â€œI hope we can keep getting better and eventually get into the nationals polls and once there, stay there consistently,â€ Kaip said. â€œIt will all start with establishing our defensive zone and then going from there.â€
For the next two seasons, Adrian will be an independent team but they will play all the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) schools twice in hopes of being voted into the league and becoming the NCHAâ€™s 8th member for the 2009-2010 season.
Up next, Adrian will face two tough consecutive weekend tests as they travel to Utica to take on a new-look Pioneers team that lost 11 seniors. Then, the following weekend, the Bulldogs will play host to eighth-ranked Wisconsin-Superior.
â€œUtica is a well coached team with the talent to bounce back from the loss of their senior class,â€ Kaip said. â€œOur main focus has been our defensive zone as well as burying the puck when we get chances. As far as Superior, we focus one week at a time, once the Utica games are over we will begin to focus on Superior. I hope to see our team come out strong and be competitive for 60 minutes. As a young team, I expect improvement each
Stevens Point downs Gustavus Adolphus
The Stevens Point Pointers got their 2007-2008 season off to a tremendous start this past weekend defeating St. Olaf 3-2 and downing third-ranked Gustavus Adolphus 5-1 in the Division-III Game of the Week.
Freshmen Jessica Edwards got her Pointer career off to a great start helping lead the offense with a goal and an assist along with sophomore Nicole Grossman, who matched her goal and assist. Fellow sophomore Jenna Daggit chipped in two assists to help lead the Pointers to the win. Dâ€™Andra Phillips picked up the win in goal for Stevens Point turning away 34 shots and holding the Golden Gustiesâ€™ power play at bay.
Coach Ann Ninnemann was pleased with getting the win but knows her team still has a lot of work to do to get to where they want to be.
â€œIt was nice to get off to a good start and get a good morale booster beating Gustavus Adolphus,â€ Ninnemann said. â€œHowever, we still have a lot of work to do. We made the most of opportunities getting only 10 shots on net and scoring five goals but we never really had much of a chance to set-up our offense with all the penalties we took. We were fortunate to block a lot of shots and Phillips was up to the task making a lot of good saves.
Stevens Point won the NCHA title last season and made it all the way to the NCAA Frozen Four before falling 5-1 to Middlebury in the national semifinals. Ninnemann is optimistic the Pointers can repeat the same success this season as long as they stay focused and keep their eyes on the ultimate prize.
â€œItâ€™s going to take a lot of hard work on and off the ice for us to get back to the Frozen Four,â€ Ninnemann said. â€œWeâ€™ll have to compete every night and play sound defense as well as keep getting contribution from our freshmen class. Dana Carothers and Jessica Edwards are off to fantastic starts putting points up right away for us.â€
The Pointers are off this weekend before traveling to Finlandia next weekend for a two games series in Michigan. Gustavus Adolphus will be looking for their first win of the season as they host Lake Forest on Friday night and then travel to River Falls in NCHA conference play.