Bantams build on coach’s experience

In spite of a less than auspicious roll out to its season, a sense of collective optimism holds true at Trinity.

In addition to contesting their first five games away from home, the Bantams (1-2-1 NESCAC, 1-2-2 overall) have struggled offensively at times, particularly with the extra skater advantage. Toss in the nuances of the all-important learning curve under a new coach and a clear picture emerges of the team’s early struggles.

The Bantams have now run into a three-game winless streak

“We all believe that we need to get to that point where it clicks; I think we’re going to be hard to play against,” said Bantams junior defenseman Emily Riccio of the current status.

Despite the early struggles, the Bantams are intent on reversing the trend and making a move upward in the NESCAC standing.

“To me that doesn’t matter,” said new Trinity coach and four-time Olympian Jenny Potter of her impression when she initially glanced at the schedule. “It’s an ice rink, you have a hockey team, what else do you need? Home game, away game; you should be able to play anywhere.”

Following a victory and a tie against Connecticut College to kick off the season, the Bantams put Potter’s words into action in a well-played 3-2 overtime loss to No. 2 Middlebury.

Trinity spotted the Panthers a two-goal edge, but fired back with a pair of goals 1:03 apart in the second period. The following afternoon however, the scenario unfolded in an entirely different manner as the host team outshot the Bantams to the tune of 41-14 on the way to a 7-0 whitewash. Over the course of the two outings, Potter’s power play unit misfired on all five attempts they were given.

“Just gaining momentum and actually getting one,” said Potter in regard to turning around the power play that went into Tuesday night’s game with host Salve Regina without a score in 15 attempts. Senior defenseman Sarah Duncan eventually collected the much-sought-after power-play goal, striking in the second period against the Seahawks Tuesday night in a 3-3 deadlock.

“We’ve had a lot of looks, we’ve had a lot of great shots, they’re there but we’re just not getting them in the net,” said Potter. “We’ve struggled at five-on-five as well. It’s just a constant learning experience.”

Coach Potter’s statement echoes throughout the Bantams locker room.

“Our power play hasn’t quite set yet,” said  Riccio, who has emerged as a leader on the Bantams blue line. “Taking the smart shots is something we have to work on. We’re still rotating our defenseman around and trying to figure out what works. We are looking to see who will step up there.”

Riccio surmises that once all of the variances that enveloped the team thus far resume a bit of symmetry, the success will come.

“Once we pull it together, we have the potential to be really good,” said Riccio. “We’re still figuring it out, but we have a lot of talent and a lot of speed.”

Trinity sophomore forwards Emma Tani and Cheeky Herr, who both displayed promise a year ago, lead the team in scoring with four and three points respectively. Trinity’s constantly developing offense has managed a mediocre eight goals while allowing 15.

Having a four-time Olympic medalist and legend in Potter advances Riccio’s theory.

“Everything is a lot more intense,” she said of Potter’s approach. “She’s been really strict on our nutrition, our systems are different, and she’s brought in the 6 a.m. practices that we never had before. Throughout the team, there’s a sense that we really want it a lot more. Our team has had a better bond this year; there is just a good vibe all around.”

Coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday break, the Bantams settle in for a 13-game home stand that will take them into February. The first five contests at the Koeppel Community Sports Center are of the nonconference variety. Trinity returns to NESCAC action on Jan. 10, when it hosts Williams in the first of a two-game weekend series.

“It’s nice to have a game at home for sure,” Riccio said.